Environmental Causes of Hauntings

Is it paranormal, or is your home the cause of your issues?

Sometimes, there are environmental problems with your surroundings that may be causing the events you are experiencing. Below are some of the common causes that can often be mistaken for paranormal activity.

CARBON MONOXIDE

Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless, and impossible to taste or smell. At lower levels of exposure, CO can cause flu-like symptoms, including headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue. At higher levels, CO exposure can be fatal, which provides another excellent reason to check for its presence when these symptoms are presented.

Sources of carbon monoxide include unvented space heaters, blocked or leaking chimneys, leaking furnaces, gas water heaters, and automobiles in attached garages. An area exposed to CO must be evacuated and ventilated; further exposure can only be prevented by eliminating the source of the gas.

ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS (EMF)

During any remodel replace old knob-and-tube wiring (a source of high fields) with modern wiring. If a new electrical transformer is installed near a building it may create high magnetic fields inside the building. Alternatively, a buffer space provided around the source transformer would reduce fields projected into the building. High EMF due to wiring errors can be corrected relatively easily as it is usually due to a connection error in a sub panel or junction box. Existing high EMF-producing facilities, such as electrical panels, established wiring routes, and load locations are often difficult to change. It may, however, be possible to rearrange usage of spaces adjacent to areas with high EMF.

Magnetic field readings of .01 – 1 mG are well within the range of commonly seen levels. Fields in the range of 1-10 mG are the subject of much medical controversy. If EMF is to be minimized, these levels indicate the presence of field sources which should be identified. Exposures of 10-100 mG are uncommon, and readings of more than 100 mG are rare. In order to verify these readings in occupied spaces the measurements should be repeated at different times of the day and week. Since EMF is directly proportionate to current flow the measured magnetic field levels originating from power lines will be markedly different for different seasons and times of the day. Because of the operating air conditioners a hot summer afternoon will usually have higher field levels than an autumn morning. A thorough field survey will reveal if these levels are present throughout the building or campus or if they are localized in specific areas.

Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (ES) is a physiological disorder characterized by symptoms directly brought on by exposure to electromagnetic fields. It produces neurological and allergic-type symptoms. Symptoms may include, but are not limited to, headache, eye irritation, dizziness, nausea, skin rash, facial swelling, weakness, fatigue, pain in joints and/or muscles, buzzing/ringing in ears, skin numbness, abdominal pressure and pain, breathing difficulty, and irregular heartbeat. It can also cause what is referred to as a “Fear Cage”, which is a high EMF reading in a small room or confined space. It can often cause feelings of uneasiness or paranoia as well as anxiety. Which can also cause a feeling of being watched, that can lead to the misunderstanding that there is a presence or paranormal being present.

MCGH has also noticed lately that in many cases, many cable providers new broadband wireless can dramatically increase EMF readings and effects on homes and those living in the home.

MOLD

Molds of various types can be found anywhere there is sufficient moisture and can grow on almost an unlimited number of materials. Molds are allergens and can cause allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory problems. Allergic reaction can vary for each individual but can include nasal congestion, irritated eyes or skin, or wheezing. Fewer people have severe reactions, but it is possible for mold exposure to cause fever and shortness of breath, as well.

Molds can grow on nearly any surface where there is enough moisture. The only way, then to stop the growth of mold is to eliminate the moisture. In some locations that investigators find themselves – ruins and buildings near natural water sources – the source of moisture cannot be removed; investigators should be mindful of this and consult a physician or allergist if exposure is a serious concern.

Depending on the severity and type(s) of mold, abatement can be done by the property owner or through a professional service. More information can be found in the EPA publication, “A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home”, which is available on their site in both HTML and PDF formats.

NATURAL GAS

Gas companies add the rotten egg odor to natural gas so that a leak is easily detected. A natural gas leak is extremely dangerous because it is explosive. Static caused by walking across a carpet is enough to se off an explosion if your home fills up with gas. Secondary to that, it can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be deadly. If you smell gas, get out of the house and call the gas company immediately.

OZONE

Ozone is a colorless gas that many have heard of in a positive light – the ozone layer that protects us from dangerous solar radiation. Indeed, ozone is beneficial in the atmosphere, but it does not belong in occupied areas, where it poses a danger.

Exposure to ozone can cause numerous respiratory ailments, including throat irritation, coughing, chest pain, and shortness of breath. It will also aggravate the symptoms of those with asthma and other respiratory problems. Longer-term exposure can cause permanent damage, including decreases in lung function and weakened defense against respiratory infection.

Some households and businesses have begun using ozone generators to clear and freshen the indoor air. Ozone generators, which intentionally produce the gas ozone, are often sold as air cleaners despite the dangers of ozone exposure. Additionally, copy machines produce ozone which in a confined space can also cause problems.

The simplest way to avoid ozone exposure is to remove the devices that generate it. Air cleaners that produce ozone – even those that claim to produce within acceptable ranges – should not be used in the home. Enclosure in a small room, especially, concentrates the gas and may increase the effects.

RADON

Radon is a colorless, odorless substance that’s released from the naturally occurring element uranium and can cause serious health problems in those who are exposed to it. Homes with radon problems have been found in all Michigan counties. Radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.

Symptoms can take a long time to develop, so it’s very important to have your home tested for radon before developing any serious symptoms. Primary symptoms include severe shortness of breath and coughing (sometimes coughing up blood). Secondary symptoms can include chronic, unexplained fatigue and weight loss, anemia, dizziness and muscle weakness and unexplained rashes.

Radon test kits can be purchased by mail order or in hardware stores and other retail outlets.

SEWER GAS

Sewer gas is typically restricted from entering buildings through plumbing traps that create a water seal at potential points of entry. In addition, plumbing vents allow sewer gases to be exhausted outdoors. Infrequently used plumbing fixtures may allow sewer gas to enter a home due to evaporation of water in the trap, especially in dry weather. The result is the most common means of sewer gas entering buildings, and can be solved easily by using the fixtures regularly or adding water to their drains. One of the most common traps to dry out are floor drains such as those typically placed near home furnaces and water heaters. Infrequently used utility sinks, tubs, showers, and restrooms also are common culprits. Trap primers are available that automatically add water to remote or little used traps such as these. Blocked plumbing vents, typically at the roof, also can cause water seals to fail via siphoning of the water.

Exposure to sewer gas also can happen if the gas seeps in via a leaking plumbing drain or vent pipe, or even through cracks in a building’s foundation. Sewer gas is typically denser than atmospheric gases and may accumulate in basements, but may eventually mix with surrounding air. Individuals who work in sanitation industries or on farms might be exposed on the job if they clean or maintain municipal sewers, manure storage tanks, or septic tanks.

In most homes, sewer gas may have a slightly unpleasant odor, but does not often pose a significant health hazard. Residential sewer pipes primarily contain the gases found in air such as nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide. Often, methane is the gas of next highest concentration, but typically remains at non-toxic levels, especially in properly vented systems. However, if sewer gas has a distinct “rotten egg” smell, especially in sewage mains, septic tanks, or other sewage treatment facilities, it may be due to hydrogen sulfide content, which can be detected by human olfactory senses in concentrations as low as parts per billion. Exposure to low levels of this chemical can irritate the eyes, cause a cough or sore throat, shortness of breath , and fluid accumulation in the lungs . Prolonged low-level exposure may cause fatigue, pneumonia, loss of appetite, headaches , irritability, poor memory, and dizziness. High concentrations of hydrogen sulfide (>150 ppm) can produce offactory fatigue, whereby the scent becomes undetectable. At very high concentrations (>300 ppm), hydrogen sulfide can cause loss of consciousness and death.

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