We just need to work with the wood in a constructive way. And the good thing is, this approach needs much less maintenance and is far more comfortable!
In a normal living situation with average dimensions and room sizes, you can realize your dream and choose untreated furniture to eliminate toxins in the home environment.
It needed to dry slowly and naturally. Furthermore, we were using grandfather's traditional techniques to make the building last for many centuries to come and without ever having to treat it with chemicals.
The answers we found on our search were ingenious and simple at the same time.
From roof trusses to a solar winter garden, a solid wood bed to the fence outdoors, there is not one area known to us which warrants the use of harmful chemicals.
Our chances to materialize these then unusual wishes were pretty good. We had our own little sawmill, my experience as a forester, the Alps surrounding us with good Timber and last but not least, the expertise of our nearly ninety-year-old grandfather.
He generously shared his experience and wealth of knowledge as a carpenter and always had an ear for us. The task at hand was clear: We wanted to produce straight, tension-free building material to renovate our home with. It had to be purposely selected and harvested at the right time.
A Clear Objective
On our quest for an answer to our children's illness, we engaged not only our minds but we also followed our hearts and gut feelings.
We wanted our dream house to be built with only natural and untreated materials. Our chances to materialize these then unusual wishes were pretty good.
Quite the opposite, we are healthier and feel better when we live in a natural, untreated environment.
After experiencing the illness our children went through and finding the solution, we were able to support people who had been suffering from allergies and doctor visits over the years.
Many families go through similar situations. The best approach really is to replace synthetics and treated furniture, floors, walls and ceilings with natural materials. When building or renovating, check all materials you are using and removing.
We know that our chances to supply clean air for all living things are actually quite good. Once we critically assess the materials we surround ourselves with, we will drop some of our habits and unnecessary demands. Turning towards nature doesn't mean loss of comfort or quality.
I remember the times when he was ill in bed and I told him that every illness has a reason and how faith can move mountains. We all believed strongly that one day he would be running again like a deer in the forest.
The question: "Mama, why can't I breathe anymore?" cannot stay unanswered.
After realizing this might be the possible source of our troubles, we removed all chip and particle boards as fast as we could and replaced it with untreated and solid wooden boards from native trees like oak, ash and larch. There is no toxic wood in our house anymore.
Just think about how it could have ended if we had taken the advice of any of the doctors, if we were prepared to settle for an asthma puffer and not changed the floors of our home at all! Just now, while I am writing these lines, our eldest son has come home from school and told us that he was the fastest runner today.
Shortly thereafter, our children were back to their normal healthy selves. What a relief! Like the man who made the biggest mistake. We too couldn't find a 'scientific diagnosis' for the disease of our children. The most important thing for us was the result: Our children have their health back.
However, the floors were a different story all together. All the rooms had particle-board floors covered with carpets and vinyl. Particle boards are nothing more than wood shavings mixed with synthetic glues and pressed into boards.
When looking closer at our new surroundings, we soon realized the house was playing a big part. The brick work was not insulated and therefore there were no dust or microfibers from mineral wool or emissions from plastic insulation. The wood cladding was not treated either and we ruled that out as a possible cause as well.
Apart from the goatish scent, we never noticed anything having a negative impact on him. The health symptoms had appeared just after we moved into our new house. We thought maybe something in our new environment was having this effect on our children's quality of life.
Our commonsense told us that those medical reckonings couldn't be correct. Our children grew up in the Alps with goats, chickens, dogs and cats. There were no allergies or any other symptoms. Our son in particular spent a fair amount of time in the company of our Billy goat.
He listed a selection of native trees and grasses. Strangely, I am a forester and I have taken my son at pre-school age on many walks and tracks throughout the seasons and blooming times of the year, day and night, in and out of the forest and never found him to be overly sensitive to anything.
We needed a third doctor before we realized we couldn't expect any help from conventional medicine in this matter. This third doctor tested for allergies. Holding our boy's arm he exclaimed: "Oh my God, this boy is allergic to just about everything!"
The next doctor didn't have any idea either as to why this condition was persisting. He prescribed cortisone for our children and elaborated in their presence, how they would have to carry a puffer with them for the rest of their lives.
First without fever, later with a slight temperature rise, followed by asthma attacks, fear of going to sleep and cries for help at night: "Mama, Papa, why can't I breathe anymore?" The first doctor didn't have a diagnosis but prescribed a dose of penicillin.
Nobody was suspecting that building materials were going to cause serious harm to anyone's health. Our family was perfectly healthy until suddenly two of our children started coughing and having breathing difficulties.
After six years of living in the Tyrolean Alps in an old Timber cabin, we moved back to our home town in the area called 'Salzburger Land'. The cabin had been built of solid and untreated timber and the house accommodating us now was about 30 years old. It was built at a time when the words 'toxic' and 'building materials' were not yet combined.
The executive directors of the company XYZ, 64 year old XY and 62 XY were both sentenced guilty of negligent bodily harm, concomitance, the negligent release of toxins and selling toxic goods while being well aware of the danger they are posing."
Please, allow me now to tell you about my own personal motivation and why our family started taking toxic chemicals seriously.
Why does the wood industry produce and install toxic building materials? Are authorities informed, not guilty or just plain negligent? Are chemicals really that bad?
Here is an excerpt from the 'Salzburger Nachrichten' back in the year 1993:
"Wood preservatives, two parole sentences"
Frankfurt Main (SN, APA). On Tuesday the Frankfurt "Wood Preservative Trial" sentenced both accused men to one year suspended prison term each and a total fine of 1.7 million Schillings, payable to several joint plaintiffs.