Building biologist Lucinda Curran’s recent visit to a client who was concerned about their daughter’s exposure to heavy metal echoes the insidious nature of some of the health hazards she investigates.
Curran says her audit discovered that the child was sleeping within a couple of metres of the household smart meter, which was emitting very high levels of radio frequencies.
Curran subsequently quizzed the child about the quality of her sleep.
“The way they described it was that they felt like they were awake all the night and they couldn’t turn their mind off,” says Curran. “For me, from what I’ve seen anecdotally, when people feel that way it’s usually from radio frequencies.” Curran, the founder of building biology service provider Eco Health Solutions, says her job largely centres on preventing clients from developing environmental sensitivities and assisting individuals with environmental sensitivities to regain their health.
She attends up to five client buildings – a mix of residential and commercial sites – a week to identify issues with indoor air quality, electromagnetic fields, drinking water and allergens and pollutants such as lead, dust and mold.
She assists her clients by conducting questionnaires about the environment they inhabit, researching the area they live in to determine potential environmental issues, conducting assessments on site and providing clients with a report and follow-up consultation.
The Australian building biology industry is small, according to Curran, but public awareness seems to be changing.
“The awareness is definitely increasing and in terms of career, obviously that’s going to be helpful,” she says.
Curran, whose diverse tertiary qualifications include a certificate IV in building biology, bachelor of health science (Chinese Medicine), master of arts and diploma of teaching, is a former early childhood teacher and ex-president of the Australasian Society of Building Biologists (and current member), a body founded in 2007 to better inform the public, businesses, health practitioners and government bodies about building biology.
In her time as president, she says, one of her significant contributions was introducing a continuing professional development policy for the membership.
“That’s been significant across the board for everybody to make sure they’re continually learning more and working on developing, upskilling and keeping up to date with best practice,” says Curran.
According to the Australian College of Environmental Studies, building biologists are predominantly self-employed consultants who work in private practice, attaining success through a good website, a strong online presence, public speaking and networking.
In 2017, Curran, who is also presently completing her advanced diploma in building biology, says she intends to advance her career by developing increasingly comprehensive packages tailored to clients’ needs and by producing programs that individuals can independently access to learn more about building biology.
“I really want to do a big focus on education,” says Curran. “My job, I see, is to find the problem or potential hazards and then give solutions.”