After our first recording attempt experienced some internet issues, we were so very pleased to finally present our podcast conversation with Nicole Bijlsma, building biologist, author and CEO and Founder of Australian College of Environmental Studies (established in 1999) this week (on Wednesday 3 June 2020).
Nicole was working as a naturopath and acupuncturist when she started to consider the connection between hazards in the home and ill health. Her own personal experience of sleep issues and repeated miscarriages after moving home and the growing numbers of patients diagnosed with chronic fatigue coming to seeing her with hopes of an answer, led to her breakthrough moment that without asking the right questions and assessing the health hazards in the home of a sick patient, diagnosing and treatment was likely to be unreliable and ineffective.
I was particularly excited about showcasing Nicole on our podcast because she pioneered the establishment of the Building Biology industry in Australia and set-up the Australian College of Environmental Studies. It is because of these monumental achievements by Nicole which has gotten me to where I am today.
I like many people, used to think I was tracking pretty well, health wise that is. Sure I had always had skin sensitivities, had developed food intolerances and was diagnosed with PCOS but I thought these were just what I had inherited. My doctor also informed me these were ‘normal’ and ‘common’ these days and I was reassured there were numerous drugs and testing we could explore to try and conceive when the time came too.
Seeing myself as progressive (I chuckle at that now as this was just the tip of the iceberg), I went to see a naturopath who identified the problematic foods, healed my liver, helped me sort out my PCOS, synced up my cycles as well as uncovered and helped me manage my eating disorder and over-exercising. She taught me how to read my body and we conceived naturally without any issues.
However, it wasn’t until after the birth of my daughter when I became aware of the environmental health space. True to my nature, when I started digging and researching into ‘natural’, ‘green’, ‘healthy’ products for my then newborn, I realised how much we weren’t told and not only did I need to find out the truth- with the scientifically backed evidence to support it and also understand that science, I also felt a deep sense of injustice that other new parents wouldn’t necessarily become aware either. You see, to a fault, I have a deep sense of justice, and dollars are never more valuable than a human life in my opinion.
That same year, my partner and I made the difficult decision to stop renovating our gorgeous little home and instead subdivide and build from scratch. Again, this prompted me to dig deep and find out what the best natural finishes, sustainable materials etc. were from an environmental health perspective.
I was brought up with an extremely strong work ethic alongside the motto “if you do anything, do it properly”. That perfectionism trait (which I think I inherited from my father) had me dragging my partner to trade shows, endless researching, making countless calls to suppliers, and oh did I mention research, research, research!
It was all consuming and I was frustrated feeling like I was getting the run about and getting side tracked going down rabbit holes too. Insert here my fortuitous meeting with Nicole Bijlsma. At first, I enquired about her then stand-alone subject Healthy Home. But after attending an on-campus day at the college and chatting to Nicole and some of the other students undertaking the subject with me, I quickly realised the subject merely wet my appetite of all there was to know.
I still remember sitting my partner down and saying “hunny, I think I want to do the whole advanced diploma”. At first, we weren’t sure how this would work as I was now pregnant again with our second but Nicole’s nationally accredited college offers flexible delivery options and an innovative online platform and in terms of support, I really couldn’t have asked for more.
In all honesty, I didn’t foresee myself here in 2020, a Building Biologist, teacher, blogger, podcast co-host, course facilitator, co-author, and small business owner but I couldn’t imagine doing anything else now. I look back now and am so glad I decided to complete the only nationally accredited course in Building Biology.
There is a growing awareness of the adverse health effects that arise from exposure to poor indoor air quality, allergens, mould, toxins, water pollution and electromagnetic fields. Many people are blogging and documenting their own journey, learning and spreading the awareness after, in most cases, a personal life event related to the above has occurred.
For people to be able to make informed choices I truly believe they need to have the knowledge because unfortunately we do not live in a society where our government will do that for us. So even though I think it is a positive thing that people are raising awareness, I argue to have discernment with the information they are supplying because their journey doesn’t necessarily mean your journey or mean true in all cases.
If I learnt anything from my studies, it is that issues can be multi-factorial and synergy may be at play. A qualified Building Biologist, even if they choose to specialise in one area, are qualified in ALL areas of environmental toxins that may impact human health and therefore better able to recognise potential issues from their comprehensive environmental history questionnaires and quantitative inspections.
If you are keen to open that door, keen to uncover the unbiased truth, and keen to take that knowledge to make truly informed choices that affect the health of you and those around you, then I invite you to download a course brochure and have a chat to Nicole.
The information I am gaining, the families I am helping, the networks I have made, and the adverse health I have been able to turn around in my own family has been priceless.
P.S. I highly recommend you grab yourself a copy of Nicole’s book, “Healthy Home, Healthy Family” if you haven’t already.