The Earth is continuously giving off gases. Radon is one of them. It is odorless, colorless, and has no endearing qualities whatever. It is the kind of house guest that lingers even when you tell him to leave. Radon comes up from the basement and seeps through a home's floor boards. Like some science-fiction menace, it forces its way into the unsuspecting homeowner's lungs to slowly eat away at him. It is not a pretty thought.
The effects of radon have been hotly debated in recent years. Although scientific evidence is not yet conclusive, radon gas has been blamed for many human ailments, including skin rashes, emphysema and halitosis. The present solution put forth by the experts calls for a box of Clorets and adequate ventilation.
In defiance of what we know about radon, it has become common practice to caulk the cracks between 2X4s. Every effort is made to seal a house as if it were a freezer bag full of broccoli. Sealing cracks may keep the cold air out, but it is also going to keep that nasty gas inside.
Besides radon, there are plenty of other gases generated by us humans that are better left uncontained. Some are even explosive. There is methane (and you know where that comes from), carbon dioxide, perfumes, after-shaves and soaps. There are odors from food thrown into the trash can. Worst of all, there are the fumes from every can of epoxy you ever opened.
Can you imagine what a house would smell like if these effluviums had nowhere to go? No one would live in houses. We would still be roaming the prairie and using buffalo skins for shelter. I have nothing against buffalo skins, but have you ever tried to wire one for electricity? Where would you put the TV to keep it from getting wet? Without walls, our private lives would be exposed to our neighbors; you could never let your spouse win an argument because there would be someone around to see you back down.
Obviously, it is good to have some natural ventilation. This is not to say that insulation, in and of itself, is bad. I simply think it is going too far to seal every seam.
THE PINK PANTHERS
When I first learned of the Pink Panther, I thought HE was a SHE. I assumed that the name was a takeoff of one of those radical groups of the 1960's, the Black Panthers or the Gray Panthers. Making these associations, I was led to the inescapable conclusion that this creature was a militant Barbie-style feminist. I could see her planting perfume bombs in the halls of the US Congress to demand equal rights for blondes in high-heels.
I was later told that the Pink Panther is a cartoon character. He is also the mascot for a company that produces fiber-glass insulation. He has huge paws, and he makes rolling out insulation in your attic look as easy as spilling a glass of water.
Truly, rolling out insulation is not a difficult process. It mostly entails getting bits of fiberglass stuck into every pore of your body.