An emergency almost took my daughter’s life and it opened my eyes to the necessity of a healthy home and the dangers of indoor air pollutants.
“50% of all illness in America can be attributed to the poor indoor air quality of our homes and buildings”
– 2002 Massachusetts Legislative Study
I prayed for a police cruiser to pull us over as stop signs and glowing traffic lights flashed by like whizzing hummingbirds orbiting a newly filled feeder. My thoughts raced as fast as we were traveling. Questions swirled in my head. Why is this happening? Where’s the hospital? Will we make it in time? My daughter lay breathless on her mother’s lap. Tina’s eyes ached; they were confused and full of fear. She was going to die if we didn’t get her to the emergency room. Hours earlier we had been enjoying dinner, talking about vacation plans and school activities like any other family. The dishes cleaned, we settled in for an evening of television and English homework. Tina’s complaints of her asthma this evening were like all the others. “Mom, it’s happening again. I can’t breathe. You need to get in here,” wheezed Tina, just nine years old. “Tina, use your inhaler. You know where it is and how to use it,” said her mother, Dee, in a well-rehearsed tone. By ten o’clock, the tone in her mother’s voice carried a distinct touch of panic. The inhaler, filled with an asthmatic’s best friend, a bronchodilator designed to clear clogged bronchial tubes in about 20 seconds, wasn’t clearing anything. It was as if each puff of medication was filling Tina’s lungs with black soot from a rancid smokestack. Tina’s wheezing turned into a desperate attempt to get just a small amount of air into her lungs and she was getting worse. She needed help now. (Try this: Fill your mouth with cotton until your cheeks bulge beet red, pinch your nose shut, and breathe. Take long, deep breaths, make those lungs work, pull that air in and push that air out. You can’t do it, can you? That’s what Tina was experiencing.) “Tom, get in here!” Dee yelled, her hands trembling. “Tina can’t breathe!” I could smell the stench of burning tire rubber as, finally, the red letters spelling out E-M-E-R-G-E-N-C-Y R-O-O-M blazed through the windshield. As I pulled Tina from the car I noticed my foot ached from the desperate stomping on the gas and brake. I still experience that sensation when the weather turns cold. “Your daughter is on oxygen, Mr. Hoshall, and her breathing is at about 10% capacity,” said the emergency room doctor. “She’s had attacks before, but nothing like this. Why now? What caused her to react like this?” I asked. “I don’t know,” he said.”
Thoughts and Facts
“Asthma is the most common long-term childhood disease, affecting 6.3 million children. Nearly l in 13 school-aged children have asthma, and the rate is rising more rapidly in preschool-aged children than in any other age group.
Approximately 4.2 million children had an asthma attack in the
“Limiting exposure to indoor allergens and tobacco smoke can prevent 65% of asthma cases in elementary school-aged children.”
“Children breathe more air, eat more food, and drink more liquid in proportion to their body weight than do adults. This makes their respiratory, immune, and digestive systems more susceptible to environmental exposures than adults.”
-The United States Environmental Protection Agency
Tom Hoshall’s Mission
My mission? To help you live in a healthy home! By following the recommendations, proven ideas, and easy to follow suggestions in this book, your chances of living in a healthier, more energy efficient home will be greatly increased.
I say it often, and mean it every time the words leave my mouth, “There’s no place like a healthy home.” I say it in the car, shower, kitchen, mall, on the phone, in radio ads and on my television show and it’s true.
Just think about how much time you, your family, and even your pets spend in your home. If you’re like most people you live, breath, age, eat, play, relax and sleep almost 14 hours a day in your home. That’s why we strive so hard to have a home that envelops us with warm and fuzzy comfort.
Once you find or build your dream home, you’re able to fill it with stuff•: couches, pictures, tables, computers, and plants, everything from knickknacks to the dogs’ squeaky toys, all in an effort to create a visual, functional and emotionally welcoming ambiance.
But, it’s what you don’t see that can turn your dream home into a nightmare. This is why I want you to be part of my mission. Together we’ll be happy homeowners; not disgruntled mortgage payers.
Healthy Home Association, founded by Tom Hoshall, is dedicated to advancing home building by making safer homes for you and your families to live in. By using green building material which limit toxins that are introduced into the home by conventional building practices. Also controlling pest infestations to limit the types of insects that could carry diseases. The Healthy Home Association is your single source for building or upgrading you home for maximum safety and infestation protection.
“An estimated 1.3 million Americans suffer from asthma: over five million are under the age of 18. Asthma is the leading chronic illness of children in the United States, and the leading cause of school absenteeism.”
– National Safety Council
Tina’s Clean Room
After three days, Tina came home from the hospital; we were exhausted. Any parent would be in the same frame of mind. My child almost dies and no one has any answers.
“Doctor, what triggered Tina’s asthma attack?” I asked. “I’m not sure Mr. Hoshall,” he replied.
“What do you mean you’re not sure? You’re supposed to know! Why don’t you?
You’ve got all this equipment and staff, and you’re not sure?”
I thought to myself. “What can we do?” I asked, fumbling with the discharge papers.
” You can create a clean room,” He said.
“Clean room?” I said, my head jerking up from the papers.
“Yes, a clean room. Just strip the room of everything: bedding, carpet, carpet pad, clothing, drapes, paint, toys and personal hygiene products. Cover the walls, floor and ceiling with plastic sheeting, and there you go, a clean room,” he replied, while looking over Tina’s chart.
“Oh, my Goodness … Oh … my … Goodness. That} it? I have to put Tina in a
“Doctor, do you see a lot of children with attacks like this?” I asked, trying to calm down.
“Yes we do,” he said, walking toward the door.
“And I’m going to have to take my daughter back into the same environment where she had the attack? “There has to be an answer,” I said.
“I’ m not sure, Mr. Hoshall. There are all sorts of asthma research going on these days. Hopefully, soon there will be answers. Right now, we just don’t know,” he said, exiting the room.
I really thought there should be a better answer. As a parent who just watched his child suffer a life threatening attack, I wanted a solution, a plan, a pamphlet, a prescription, something … anything. You do this, this, this and this and things get better.
I honestly thought with all this science and technology, they should have been able to give me more information right there on the spot. And I get, “I’m not sure.”
Now, with doubts in my mind and a scare in my heart, we’re watching the glowing red letters, E-M-E-R-G-E-N-C-Y R-O-O-M fade in the rearview mirror, with little more than a “good luck” from the doctor.
The drive home was quite slow. No whizzing lights; just a very slow, contradictory desire to be in the safety of our home. Pulling into the driveway had never been so difficult.
“Tom, what are we going to do? What did the doctor say?” asked Dee, who was holding Tina’s hand after I gently placed Tina in her bed.
“Nothing. He didn’t say anything that’s going to give any of us a good night’s rest,” I said with a hint of dejection, but an air of command. My daughter was not going to suffer another attack. I’ll be doggoned if I 1von’t find the solution. There’s an answer, and I’ll find it.
That night, Dee and her mother Argie cleaned our home. They cleaned until there was no more cleaner, no more towels and no more strength. They cleaned our home that already glistened with newness and warmth; our home where we celebrated birthdays, wonderful anniversaries and joyous holidays; our home that was now our greatest enemy.
Thoughts and Facts
“There are over 103 million visits to emergency rooms in the U.S. every year, and only 30,000 emergency room physicians. That’s 3,433 patients per doctor, per year, or 9.4 patients per day.”
– American College of Emergency Physicians