Tips for a Healthy Home

By Emma Chavez,2014-06-26 18:51
12 views 0
Tips for a Healthy Home ...

    Environmental Design and Inspection Services

    Oram Miller, BBEI

    Certified Building Biology Environmental Inspector

    “EMF” Consultant

    P.O. Box 8063

    Minneapolis, Minnesota 55408

    Phone 952-412-0781

    Tips for a Healthy Home

    Improve Indoor Air Quality

These tips for a healthy home are based upon recommendations taught by the

    International Institute of Bau-biologie and Ecology (IBE), Clearwater, Florida

    (727-461-4371; and comprise the material covered in

    the author’s Healthy Home lectures. They are also based upon his experience

    from almost five hundred environmental home and office inspections conducted

    in Minnesota and ten other states over the past several years.

The Twenty-Five Principles of Bau-biologie are presented at the end of these

    recommendations, as taught by the IBE.

For tips on making your home and office safer from harmful Electro-Magnetic

    Fields (“EMFs”) as well as Radio Frequencies from wireless communications, go

    to Oram’s website, and click on “Tips for a

    Healthy Home,” then click on the link to the handout entitled, “Reduce Your

    Exposure to Electric Fields, Magnetic Fields and Radio Frequencies (EMFs).”

For tips on ways to remodel an existing home or office in a healthy way without

    making you or your family sick, or to design and build a new building in a safe

    and healthy way, go to Oram’s website, and click

    on “Tips for a Healthy Home,” then click on the link to the handout entitled,

    “Recommendations for Healthy Renovations and New Home Construction.”

Avoid Mold by Doing the Following:

    ? For a mold clean-up protocol, see below, after this section.

    Environmental Design & Inspection Services ? Providing adequate runoff for rooftop rainwater takes care of 90% of mold Tips for a Healthy Home problems in a basement. Keep rain gutters clear of debris and downspouts in good working order. Make sure downspout extenders end at least several feet away from the foundation so that rainwater does not pool near

    the foundation.

    ? Berm (or slope) the earth that is around the house so that there is at least

    a 5-10 degree slope for rainwater to drain away, not towards, the


    ? If the ground around your house generally slopes toward your foundation

    on any side, install drain tile under the soil to carry excess rainwater away. ? Don’t let a sprinkler spray directly against the side of the house.

    ? Plant your flowerbeds and shrubs somewhat away from the house if you

    water them regularly.

    ? In warmer weather, increase cross ventilation to the outdoors from your

    basement or crawl space.

    ? In the winter, keep the basement or crawl space warmer than the

    temperature of the soil on the other side of the foundation or the crawl

    space stem wall, which is usually 55-60 degrees F. below frost line. This

    avoids condensation from forming on the inside of the stem wall. ? Make sure air ducts that run in a basement or crawl space are tightly

    sealed with mastic tape. This avoids moist indoor air from leaking out in

    winter, which would allow moisture to condense on basement or crawl

    space walls, causing mold.

    ? Do a good job of insulating any air ducts that run in your attic to avoid

    condensation and mold inside the ducts during hot summer days. ? Make your attic cooler in summer by adding tiny thermal radiant beads to

    (non-toxic) paint and applying this paint to the underside of your roof.

    Made by Radiosity Radiant Barriers ( and available from

    Green Building Supply, Fairfield, Iowa (800-405-0222; Green Building Supply can ship items

    anywhere in the country.

    ? Install solar powered roof fans, also available from Green Building Supply. ? The roof should act much like an umbrella over the enclosed, insulated

    living space under the attic floor. The roof needs to be vented along its

    peak through a roof ridge vent and around its edges at the soffits to allow

    the attic to breathe, using plastic air chutes. You should feel a slight

    breeze blowing through a well-vented attic when the wind blows. ? Seal all air penetrations to the attic from the living space below to avoid

    warm indoor air from entering the attic in winter. If warm air enters a cold

    attic, it causes snow to melt on the roof, run down the roof, and refreeze at

    the lower edges where the roof is cold once again over the overhangs and

    soffits. This is how ice dams are formed. More melting snow then pools

    behind the ice dam and the water migrates under roofing shingles,

    dripping onto insulation in the attic below and causing mold to grow. You


    Environmental Design & Inspection Services

    Tips for a Healthy Home

    see this as discoloration on your room ceilings and along the tops of your outer walls. You can prevent this by sealing all air penetrations into our attic from the living space below, including the installation of weather stripping around your attic hatch and sealing around chimneys and pipes.

    ? Ventilate any rooms with excess moisture to the outside, such as

    bathrooms during and after showering. Do not vent exhaust fans into the attic. Consider installing a timer switch on your bathroom exhaust fan.

    ? Choose whole house central air humidifiers for use in winter in which

    water flows-through, rather than models that blow air past a pan of stationary water. The latter can harbor mold, sending it throughout the house with the air stream. Aprilaire is one such manufacturer of flow-through central humidifiers (608-257-8801;

    ? Keep your central air conditioner well maintained and have an HVAC

    contractor inspect and clean the condenser coils with a cleanser to avoid mold. Be sure the cleanser is non-toxic.

    ? Make sure window air conditioners drain the condensate water away from

    your house onto the ground outdoors, not onto a porch below.

    ? Inspect and clean refrigerator drain pans regularly for standing water and

    mold growth.

    ? Make sure all drainage hoses from air conditioner HVAC condenser units

    and whole house humidifiers in the basement actually end over a floor drain, not a few feet from them. Otherwise you end up with a perpetual wet spot on the basement cement floor that will support mold growth.

    ? Consider purchasing an indoor air purifier. The unit that I recommend is an

    ozone-generating air purifier called the Aranizer (866-272-6247; The Aranizer makes no detectable nitrous oxide by-products as it creates abundant quantities of health-promoting higher weights of oxygen (O4 to O16). Research shows that nitrous oxide by-products are the cause of damage to the lung lining, not ozone itself. Nitrous oxide by-products are created by an electronic spark (which burns at 900 to 1,000 degrees F) as well as some frequencies of UV light. Both these technologies are used in other ozone-generating air purifiers but not the Aranizer. The Aranizer instead uses a “cold fusion” process (only 110 degrees F) to generate higher weights of oxygen, all without moving parts. Three independent outside laboratories have documented that the Aranizer does not create any detectable amounts of unhealthy nitrous oxide by-products. Call the R&D Department at Aranizer (866-272-6247) to get the full story. Also go to Aranizer’s website ( and

    click on the link, “What Is Aran” to read how ozone produced without nitrous oxides is safe. If you are in Minnesota or Wisconsin, purchase an Aranizer air purifier through Dawn Radibaugh, 651-795-9057. If you are out of state, units are available through Green Building Supply (800-405-0222:


    Environmental Design & Inspection Services

    Tips for a Healthy Home

    Mold Clean-Up Protocol

? Dry out and clean up any water leaks ASAP, such as from a plumbing leak

    or rainwater intrusion into your house. The EPA says you have 24-48

    hours to dry out the porous building materials before mold begins to grow

    to the point of no return. After that, even when dry, porous materials

    should be removed, discarded and replaced because even dry, dormant

    mold spores still remain and can be allergenic. They also carry toxic

    mycotoxins, that is, toxins produced by the mold when it was alive. Also if

    the area becomes wet again, mold will regrow quicker than 48 hours.

    ? Be sure to fix the water intrusion problem first.

    ? Homeowners can repair small mold jobs themselves if the affected area is

    generally less than ten square feet by following the guidelines in “A Brief

    Guide to Mold, Moisture and Your Home”

    ( and “Mold Remediation in

    Schools and Commercial Buildings”


    ? Be sure to wear a well-fitting N-95 respirator mask and protective goggles.

    Wear old clothing that you can discard or launder in hot water.

    ? Seal off the mold infested room or area with plastic and seal the air vents

    into and out of the room. Put a fan in the window and blow the air out, so

    you in effect create negative pressure in the room. This is to avoid mold

    spores from spreading throughout the house, turning a small, confined job

    into a much bigger one.

    ? You must be prepared for the fact that billions of mold spores could

    potentially be released into the air when you start opening up and

    demolishing mold-infested sheetrock, insulation, and tearing up moldy

    carpet and padding.

    ? All porous materials that became wet must go, even if they are now dry.

    Through all infested materials out the window. Do not drag them through

    the rest of the house. Cut moldy carpet and padding in strips, roll it up,

    bag it, and discard it out the window.

    ? Once you are down to solid, structural surfaces that must stay (studs,

    sheathing, subflooring, concrete slab in the basement), use non-toxic

    alternatives to bleach to kill and inhibit mold growth. A good mold cleanser

    and mold killer is Thieves Oil, one of the Young Living Essential Oils

    ( Thieves Oil is an historically effective blend of

    essential oils that has been shown to kill mold and inhibit its growth. It is

    applied in a diffuser or sprayed on as a topical non-toxic mold-killing

    cleanser. When used diffused into the air it kills all mold spores on

    exposed surfaces. Thieves Oil and the cleanser is available locally

    through Michael Weber, a Young Living distributor in Bloomington,

    Minnesota (612-986-1354; Another choice is

    Hydroxi Pro “Power Safe,” made by Core Products


    Environmental Design & Inspection Services

    Tips for a Healthy Home ( and available through Green Building Supply (800-405-0222; Another non-toxic mold cleanser and mold killer is Sol-u-Mel, containing Tea Tree or Melaleuca oil

    (, used now exclusively by F.E.M.A. on all their flood

    relief jobs nationwide for mold cleanup and prevention. Contact your local

    representative of The Wellness Company ( Be

    sure to use a good scrub brush. Some mold experts say all you really

    need is a good surfactant (that is, a detergent any non-toxic general

    purpose cleanser would work) and a scrub brush to lift the mold off.

    ? Mold inhibitors are made by Envirox (, National

    Allergy Supply ( and by AFM, who make SafeChoice

    X-158 ( Envirox and SafeChoice X-158 are

    available nationwide through Green Building Supply (800-405-0222; AFM products are available in the Twin

    Cities at Natural Built Home, 4020 Minnehaha, Minneapolis (612-605-

    7999; and at Lakewinds, Ecopolitan, and

    Linden Hills Home Store. ? Vacuum all surfaces with a HEPA vacuum cleaner once you have done

    the demolition and clean up. Be sure to have the room vented to the

    outside with a fan in the window when you do this and wear your mask.

    ? Then you are ready to rebuild. Be sure to use non-toxic paints and

    adhesives (see below). ? For larger jobs, consult a professional mold remediator. You can consult

    the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification

    ( for a list of certified cleaning and restoration experts

    in your area.

    Reduce Indoor Airborne Particulates by Doing the Following:

? Avoid spun fiberglass furnace filters. Upgrade to pleated air filters and

    change them more frequently than the manufacturer recommends, ideally

    every one to two months (versus every three months, as recommended by

    most manufacturers).

    ? Install an air-to-air heat exchanger, also known as a “Heat Recovery Ventilator.” They provide several fresh air exchanges per hour of stale

    indoor air with fresh outdoor air without significant loss of heat in the

    winter, and they keep out the heat in the summer. If you live in warmer

    southern climates, you should ideally purchase an Energy Recovery

    Ventilator (as opposed to a Heat Recovery Ventilator), available from

    RenewAire (800-627-4499; or Aprilaire (608-257-

    8801; Energy Recovery Ventilators supply abundant

    fresh air while keeping out heat and humidity in summer, and keeping in

    heat and humidity in winter.


    Environmental Design & Inspection Services

    Tips for a Healthy Home ? Have your air ducts cleaned throughout the house if not done so within the past three to five years. This will eliminate accumulated dust and mold and improve your indoor air quality. Have this done again in another three to five years, or more often if occupants are symptomatic. Important: Ask

    the serviceman to vacuum only. Do not let them spray toxic bactericide or fungicide into the air ducts. The serviceman will do this automatically if you do not tell them not to. These chemicals are toxic to you, as well as to microorganisms and fungi.

    ? Metal air ducts are best for forced air heating systems. If you need to

    install flexible air ducts, choose cotton-lined semi-flexible air ducts over fiberglass-insulated flexible air ducts. Cotton-insulated semi-flexible air ducts are made by Superior Air Ducts in Houston (713-682-3828; The plastic lining is tough enough for the ducts to be professionally cleaned by a duct cleaning company, which is not possible with fiberglass-lined ducts because the lining is too thin and can easily be punctured. That is a real plus for Superior’s air ducts as far as we are concerned.

    ? Have an HVAC contractor remove and replace the fiberglass panels that

    line the plenum of your HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioner) unit. These panels contain low-grade spun fiberglass, the fibers of which are carried in the air stream that passes through this chamber in the furnace. Replace with Tekfoil or similar non-fiber insulation, preferably placed on the outside of the unit, if thermal and sound insulation are still needed. Some HVAC manufacturers are looking into lining their plenums with cotton insulation, not fiberglass.

    ? Purchase a good quality HEPA vacuum cleaner, such as from the Miele

    company, with good-fitting seals. Whole-house vacuum cleaners are the best, because they are vented to the outdoors.

    ? Avoid wall-to-wall carpeting. It collects and traps pesticides brought in on

    the soles of your shoes, dead cells from your skin that feed dust mites, and dust, and is a breeding ground for mold when the relative humidity rises above 65%. Also formaldehyde, used as a color fixative, and glues used in carpet backing can outgas for years, not just a few weeks after installation. Instead use carpeting with woven jute backing and no formaldehyde. Better yet, choose solid surface flooring that will outlast wall-to-wall carpeting by decades. Cover them with area rugs that can be periodically shaken and aired out. Start a “no shoes inside” policy with your family so that street shoes are left at the door; use slippers indoors.

    Reduce Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and Other Sources

    of Ill Health in Indoor Air by Doing the Following:

? Avoid particleboard at all costs for kitchen cabinets, counters, bathroom

    enclosures, and furniture.


    Environmental Design & Inspection Services ? Store unused solvents (all of which contain volatile compounds) in a Tips for a Healthy Home sealed cabinet, preferably in an outbuilding or storage shed rather than in your basement or attached garage. Better yet, only purchase as much as you need and safely discard the remainder rather than leaving it around.

    ? Choose all-natural upholstery, draperies, throw rugs and bedding

    whenever possible. Natural fibers generate beneficial negative ions, keeping you more alert, and they avoid outgassing from plastic fabrics. Harmful positive ions in indoor air, which cause fatigue, are generated from plastics used in nylon carpeting, latex paints and synthetic upholstery, draperies and bedding.

    ? Avoid new plastic shower curtains. They are made with polyvinyl chloride

    (PVC) which contain plasticizers, known as “phthalate.” Phthalates make

    the rigid PVC more soft and flexible. They are known to aggravate asthma, particularly in children, and they can cause cancer. If you already own a plastic shower curtain that is several months old, you can keep it because it has already done its damage and is no longer outgassing. When you need to replace it, however, purchase a cotton shower curtain instead and wash it regularly. They are sold by Healthy Homes

    ( and other healthy product retailers.

    ? Always choose natural cleansers over synthetic ones. Avoid cleaning

    products with fragrance and perfume. Avoid plug-in electric room deodorizers. The Wellness Company ( carries natural, non-toxic alternatives to literally every cleaning and laundry product used in the home, sold at wholesale prices and delivered to your door. Available through Renee Aymar, Plymouth, Minnesota; 763-551-4776;

    ? It is especially important to avoid fragranced dryer sheets and fabric

    softeners. Read the article, “Health Risks of Fabric Softeners,” from the website for the Allergy and Environmental Health Association, Ottawa Branch ( These products emit petroleum-based fragrances that are known neurotoxins and endocrine-mimicers. They disrupt the normal hormonal pathways, causing developmental damage in children and a long list of acute and chronic illnesses in people of all ages. They should be avoided at all costs.

    ? Likewise avoid drinking out of soft, number 1 or number 2 plastic bottles,

    as they also contain phthalates that are known to cause cancer when consumed. Use glass bottles instead and store your leftovers in glass containers.

    ? Never heat food in a plastic container in a microwave oven. This is

    because plasticizers used in soft plastic containers or food wrap can get into the food when cooked in a microwave and are considered to be carcinogenic. There is evidence that microwave ovens seriously alter basic nutrients, including proteins and fats, within food and beverages as they are cooked. This makes them unrecognizable to the body as nutrients and actually toxic. Studies in New Zealand show that children


    Environmental Design & Inspection Services

    Tips for a Healthy Home

    raised on diets high in food cooked in a microwave oven have a

    substantially higher degree of chronic health problems. We recommend

    microwave ovens not be used to avoid these issues altogether. Use a

    countertop toaster oven instead.

    ? Avoid applying toxic, synthetic pesticides and insecticides in and around

    your house. These products are harmful to you as well as to pests.

    Choose natural pest management such as recommended by the

    Biocontrol Network ( and in the book, “The Best Control:

    Intelligent Pest Management” by Steve Tvedten (

    ? Install a whole-house water filtration system to filter out chlorine and

    agricultural chemicals from household water. Every time we shower with

    unfiltered water, our skin absorbs as much chlorine as if we drank an

    eight-ounce glass of tap water. Backflush the water filter on the shower

    head at the frequency recommended by the manufacturer. Keep under-

    the-sink RO units well maintained and change the filters regularly. ? Avoid opening your dishwasher right after the cycle is complete and turn

    off the electric heat element during the drying cycle (which also saves

    energy). That way you avoid letting chlorine and chemicals in traditional

    detergent from entering the indoor air. Use all-natural dishwashing


    ? Avoid hanging newly dry cleaned clothes in your bedroom. Hang them

    outdoors if possible, or in a laundry room or utility room, to let the

    perchlorates outgas for a few hours.

    ? In general, if you purchase an existing home, choose one that is older

    than five to eight years old. This gives the house enough time for the

    indoor materials to thoroughly outgas. A new home less than five to eight

    years old is still outgassing some of its materials. It is better to consult with

    a Building Biologist to choose non-toxic materials when you build a new

    home in the first place.

    ? Likewise, choose non-toxic materials whenever you remodel, because to

    live in your home while it is being remodeled with traditional materials will

    expose you and your family to very harmful airborne chemicals. There are

    healthier options available to avoid this. For more information go to

    Oram’s website, and click on “Tips for a

    Healthy Home,” then click on the link to the handout entitled,

    “Recommendations for Healthy Renovations and New Home


    Consultations are available from Oram Miller, BBEI for healthy home evaluations

    conducted both personally onsite as well as long distance over the telephone.

    Contact him at 952-412-0781 or You can also go

    to his website, for more information.

    Oram Miller, BBEI Certified Building Biologist


    Environmental Design & Inspection Services

    Tips for a Healthy Home

Environmental Design and Inspection Services

    PO Box 8063

    Minneapolis, Minnesota 55408

    The Twenty-Five Principles of Bau-Biologie

Building Biology, translated from the word “Bau-biologie,” was pioneered in

    Germany over thirty years ago and is taught in the U.S.A. by the International

    Institute for Bau-biologie and Ecology (IBE), Clearwater, Florida (727-461-4371; The principles upon which the teachings of Building

    Biology are based are as follows:

    1. A building site shall be geologically undisturbed.

    2. Residential homes are best located away from industrial centers and

    main traffic routes.

    3. Housing shall be developed in a decentralized and loose manner

    interlaced with sufficient green space.

    4. Housing and developments shall be personalized, in harmony with

    nature, fit for human habitation and family oriented.

    5. Natural and unadulterated building materials shall be used.

    6. Walls, floors and ceilings shall be diffusible and hygroscopic.

    7. Indoor air humidity shall be regulated naturally.

    8. Air pollutants need to be filtered and neutralized.

    9. An appropriate balance of thermal insulation and heat retention is


    10. The air and surface temperatures of a given room need to be


    11. A heating system shall feature radiant heat using as much (passive)

    solar heat as possible.

    12. The total moisture content of a new building shall be low and dry out


    13. A building shall have a pleasant or neutral smell. No toxins shall


    14. Light, lighting and color shall be in accord with natural conditions.

    15. Protective measures against noise pollution as well as infrasonic and

    ultrasonic vibrations need to be human oriented.

    16. Only building materials with little or preferably no radioactivity shall be


    17. The natural balance of atmospheric electricity and ion concentration

    shall be maintained.

    18. The Earth’s natural magnetic field shall not be altered or distorted.

    19. Man-made electromagnetic radiation shall be eliminated (or reduced


    Environmental Design & Inspection Services

    Tips for a Healthy Home

     as much as possible).

    20. Cosmic and terrestrial radiation is essential and shall be interfered with

    as little as possible.

    21. Interior and furniture design shall be based on physiological findings.

    22. Harmonic measures, proportions and shapes need to be taken into


    23. The production, installation and disposal of building materials shall not

    contribute to environmental pollution and high energy costs.

    24. Building activities shall not contribute to the exploitation of non-

    renewable and rare resources.

    25. Building activities shall not cause a rise in social and medical costs.


Report this document

For any questions or suggestions please email