[GSBN] health (ill) effects of earthen floors
oasis at oasisdesign.net
Thu Jan 5 17:32:38 CST 2012
Moisture content is another factor:
* Natural building-style earthen floors are generally separated from
the rest of the soil by some sort of capillary gap, and are so dry
it's hard to imagine even ascaris --the design reference
indestructible parasite-- finding them a hospitable environment.
* Every dirt floor I've seen had a direct capillary connection to
the rest of the soil. They generally are just the top of the soil
that happened to be where the house was built, perhaps with some
other soil spread directly over it.
* The often surprisingly nice finish of dirt floors requires
dampness. I noted that dry season maintenance included sprinkling
water over them to maintain their compact, virtually dust-free state.
* Compaction and sweeping tends to lower the level of dirt floors.
Without added soil, rainy season surface runoff --sopa de caca in
many instances-- can intrude.
* The dirt floors I saw were very much extensions of the ecosystem
outside; chickens, baby goats and children pooping on them, naked
infants mouthing whatever they found on them..etc. To me, it is
credible that ascaris could survive and be transmitted on the
floors in the village where I worked most extensively
agree with Derrick however that this transmission route would
probably be dwarfed by others, for example ubiquitous open field
defecation, often with bare feet.
As for the part that's relevant to this list: Though superficially
similar, I don't think results from damp dirt floors at grade level
extrapolate to dry, sealed earth floors with a capillary break to the
ground. Weather the latter would have the benefits of concrete in a
given context is another question. This probably depends on many
factors, including for example the degree to which the roof keeps water
On 1/5/12 10:40 AM, John Swearingen wrote:
> Yes, improving (sealing, stabilizing) the earth floors wasn't
> discussed in this article, and could be done at much less expense than
> pouring concrete, and possibly to better effect.
> On Thu, Jan 5, 2012 at 10:21 AM, Bill Steen <bill at caneloproject.com
> <mailto:bill at caneloproject.com>> wrote:
> Well I have to say can't think of anything you said to disagree
> with. Quite sensible for whatever kind of King you are. Anyhow,
> I just wanted to point out the difference between the kind of dirt
> floors that I think the article was referring to and other types
> of earthen floors - sealed, stabilized or whatever. I think the
> choice of floors will have much to do with the context, the
> dwelling, the inhabitants, what kind of kids are part of the
> family, etc. I can think of all kinds of contexts where earthen
> floors wouldn't make any sense whatsoever. And I sure wouldn't
> want to try and talk someone out of a floor they like such as
> Jorge and his choice of cement/lime.
> Other alternatives often come to mind when imagining floor
> alternatives. For the low cost houses that we did, we were able
> to find sufficient amounts of broken-up concrete slab pieces and
> assemble them in a manner resembling a flagstone floor. Those
> floors were fabulous - durable and cheap. Love them to this day.
> Bill Steen
> bill at caneloproject.com <mailto:bill at caneloproject.com>
> www.caneloproject.com <http://www.caneloproject.com>
> www.caneloproject.com/blog <http://www.caneloproject.com/blog>
> HC1 Box 324
> Elgin, AZ85611
> On Jan 5, 2012, at 10:53 AM, Bruce King wrote:
>> Thanks, Bill.
>> I agree with you and David E., that very likely a decent oil,
>> lime or emulsion finish on a well-tamped earthen floor is likely
>> to provide the same benefit.
>> I also agree about cement. It's a fantastic building material --
>> when used skillfully -- and highly problematic when not. And it
>> comes at very high cost: financially to a very poor person, and
>> ecologically to everyone. I saw in Haiti what I fear is a bit
>> common, that people would spend very precious cash on cement and
>> rebar, but then use them without knowledge or guidance,
>> effectively throwing the money away and getting the illusion of
>> modernity, durability and seismic safety. Bad concrete &
>> masonry construction all over the world bakes people in summer,
>> freezes them in winter, and kills them outright in earthquakes.
>> By spreading just a little of the right knowledge we can make
>> that construction less expensive, more thermally comfortable, and
>> Most of us on this list are painfully aware that clay-based
>> construction is a viable, if not superior, alternative to the
>> many forms of cement-based building that are now widespread
>> everywhere. I would guess that the built environment of the past
>> 100 years could have all of the good benefits, and maybe a few
>> extra ones, and a lot less bad effects, if about half as much
>> cement overall had been used -- skillfully. As we promote
>> earthen building as an alternative I really want to keep the
>> science tight both to be sure, and also to not provide ammunition
>> to the bad guys who rise up to resist our noble crusade.
>> Bruce "Ain't no good at bein' noble" King
>> bruce at bruce-king.com <mailto:bruce at bruce-king.com>
>> (415) 987-7271 <tel:%28415%29%20987-7271>
>> Twitter: @brucekinggreen
>> blog: bruceking.posterous.com <http://bruceking.posterous.com>
>> Skype: brucekingokok
>> On Jan 5, 2012, at 9:16 AM, Bill Steen wrote:
>>> Yes and no I would say. It's talking about dirt floors that
>>> have no treatment whatsoever. That's quite different than
>>> floors that have been sealed with oil or that have lime
>>> included. I would assume there is no data available or studies
>>> looking at the tataki floors of Japan that have both lime and
>>> salts (magnesium chloride) included in the mix but I seriously
>>> doubt that hookworm would have been a factor. Or the same I
>>> would think hold true for floors that have been stabilized with
>>> cement and sealed in form or another. In short, that's my answer.
>>> On a note that is indirectly related to all this, the use of
>>> cement, not that I'm against it in all respects, in the third
>>> world countries has produced what amounts to a plague of cold in
>>> the winter/hot in the summer houses and buildings that in the
>>> overall scheme of things, have had a very negative impact.
>>> Bill Steen
>>> bill at caneloproject.com <mailto:bill at caneloproject.com>
>>> www.caneloproject.com <http://www.caneloproject.com/>
>>> www.caneloproject.com/blog <http://www.caneloproject.com/blog>
>>> HC1 Box 324
>>> Elgin, AZ85611
>>> On Jan 5, 2012, at 9:31 AM, Bruce King wrote:
>>>> Happy New Year, baleheads!
>>>> I came across the article linked below about how adding
>>>> concrete over earthen floors has a measurable positive impact
>>>> on occupant health-- especially children's. Many of us think
>>>> "Yuck!" at the idea of concrete instead of earthen floors, but
>>>> you can't argue with the science.
>>>> Anyone have a rebuttal or additional relevant information? At
>>>> the very least, this seems like something we natural building
>>>> types should take a cool-headed look at.
>>>> Paving Paradise - by Charles Kenny | Foreign Policy
>>>> Bruce "Cool Head Cold Feet" King
>>>> bruce at bruce-king.com <mailto:bruce at bruce-king.com>
>>>> (415) 987-7271 <tel:%28415%29%20987-7271>
>>>> Twitter: @brucekinggreen
>>>> blog: bruceking.posterous.com <http://bruceking.posterous.com/>
>>>> Skype: brucekingokok
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