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My name is Kristine Reilly-Blake, I live in North Northumberland with my husband and my 2 children. I am the owner and founder of Healthy Homes and Beyond IAQ.
My indoor air quality journey began at the age of 19 where I had a child with an undiagnosed respiratory condition.
From the age of 4 months my daughter was prescribed inhalers and we were left to get on with it. After years of hospital admissions, courses of prednisolone, dieticians, dermatologists and so many disgusting creams and treatments, she was finally diagnosed with Asthma in 2005 on the Isle of Arran where we had moved only months previously.
Looking back now at photos and videos, I can see that she was always struggling. However, at the time I did not have the knowledge or experience to see what was right in front of me, I was never given specialist asthma training to be able to spot triggers or even on how to administer an inhaler correctly.
We continued for another 4 years, blind to dangers and triggers of asthma, constant exacerbations and still no referral to a specialist hospital or consultant to be able to assist us in having better quality of life. After 8 and a half years my daughter had such a severe exacerbation of asthma that she was within 10 minutes of death. She was 9, I didn’t know to call 999, I hadn’t been informed that asthma was life threatening or what to do if she had a severe exacerbation, so I took her to the hospital in the car, granted it was only a 7–8-minute drive but those minutes I know now, without medical intervention could have been the last minutes of her life.
In 2012 we moved to Berwick upon Tweed in Northumberland, with the aim of starting a new life and having a better quality of life, sea air, countryside, and better outdoor air. Little did we know that this is where our journey was going to take the biggest turn yet.
Within 6 months of moving to Northumberland my daughter's condition became dangerously life threatening. After 8 weeks of moving into our new home she began to display severe symptoms of asthma, we didn’t have any pets so what I had been told previously was incorrect, pets were not the trigger. She had 2 severe exacerbations within 12 hours and was sent via emergency ambulance to The Great North Childrens Hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne, this was the beginning of daily trips to or at least 4 days out of 7 being blue lighted up and down the A1 to Newcastle. She was eventually diagnosed with severe asthma, and statistically she was the 2nd worst child in the North-East of England suffering with asthma where every admission death for her was feared.
I discussed the possibility with specialist paediatric consultants and nurses that my daughter’s asthma could be environmental, be it outdoor or indoor. I began to research indoor air pollution and the triggers for asthmatics and was astounded that not one professional healthcare, housing or education had even considered this possibility. Safe to say I was dismissed and ignored by all professionals, so I set out to prove that it was in fact our indoor environment that was causing such severe exacerbations of symptoms. I could not sit back any longer and watch my daughter suffer in a constant state of fear of her death because of a lack of knowledge, education and experience.
I began to educate myself on damp, mould, Volatile Organic Compounds, particulates, mycotoxins, and any other toxins/chemicals that may cause an exacerbation of symptoms that could be causing a detrimental effect on my daughter’s health. However, I could not remove the issues that were being experienced to our home that were related and due to poor workmanship, it took me 2 years after leaving the hospital after having my youngest daughter to prove that it was our indoor environment.
The turning point for us was when my daughter was nominated by her specialist respiratory nurse to go on the holiday of a lifetime with Dream flight, an all-expenses paid 10-day trip to Florida for children living with lifelong conditions. In the 10 days that she was in Florida, she only had to take her salbutamol inhaler once, while at home she was taking it every four hours, and on full dose steroids daily.
Within 48 hours of returning home from Florida my daughter was blue-lighted to Newcastle, where the healthcare professionals were now listening and taking my theory on board. With the assistance of my daughter’s consultant, who is the clinical director, and her specialist asthma nurses my daughter's schoolteachers and other local teachers were given specialist asthma training, asthma stations were placed around the school, salbutamol inhalers and disposable spacers were ordered all whilst raising awareness about the severity of asthma.
Alongside the Specialist Paediatric Respiratory Team at The Great North Children's Hospital in Newcastle Upon Tyne, I started my journey to Healthy Homes and Beyond IAQ, I just didn't know it yet!
I educated myself on asthma, gained specialist asthma training for schools in the area we live and became an editor on the beatasthma.org website, helping families going through similar issues. I also trained to be an expert Independent Damp, Mould, and Timber Surveyor, running Damp Detectives North East England and Scotland, while expanding my knowledge and experience in Indoor air Quality (IAQ) and became a certified IAQ professional. I have helped many families already with underlying health conditions to have a healthy home and a better quality of life
It was indeed our indoor environment that was causing such severe exacerbations of asthma that I then had to prove to professionals who should have had the knowledge and experience to help and support us, but we were dismissed and ignored for over 5 years whilst my daughter was trialled on almost all new asthma treatments which caused her to be continually bullied and attacked on social media. If I am being totally honest the psychological impact on her was far more life threatening in the end as she tried to take her own life on 3 occasions.
As a parent this was totally soul destroying, after the severe emotional trauma of having to save my daughter's life and fight to keep her alive we were then just left to cope with the aftermath of a life-threatening condition that had caused so much pain, stress, and anxiety.
So, instead of allowing it all to consume me I decided to focus all my emotion and trauma in a positive direction to prevent this happening to other families, no one should ever have to endure what we endured as a family due to a sheer lack of knowledge and education.
Healthy Homes & Beyond IAQ is my vision for others and I am extremely proud of my achievements and how far I have come. I am able to assist and support families and individuals with their own IAQ giving them the quality of life that they not only deserve but are 100% entitled to.
For the future my vision is to be a part of the governing of IAQ. I will continue to raise awareness and educate everyone who should know and needs to know about the health impact of poor indoor air quality and the detrimental effect that it can have on health. I’m currently in the process and working with other professionals and scientists to start my own qualification for IAQ professionals in the UK.
I'm also looking into development opportunities to build homes that are free from all toxins within the structure of buildings using safe sustainable, breathable products. I am looking back at the fundamentals of house building and aim to bring the past and present together as one to ensure that we have the best safest homes to live and grow in.
Thank you if you have managed to get right to the end of my story, it is greatly appreciated that you have taken the time to learn about how my vision came to life.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have a IAQ story or just want to have a chat about IAQ.