Environmental Issue & Sick Building Syndrome Blog

This entry comes to us from Nick Pineault “the EMF guy”

His website is  www.nontinfoilemf.com  

He is the best EMF educator that I have found out there for non-technical people. You can Purchase classes from them that are great. You can also sign up for his informational emails where he answers questions. Below is one of these. 

I have had a number of clients that have the EMF Sensitivities and worked to help them. I do keep a EMF meter with me and assure you that the new meters put off a ton of energy which creates problems for MANY people….including a client from this last week.    

Today's question is this: "Nick... do those covers you put on your smart meter really block EMF radiation? Are they worth it?"

The short answer is: yes, some of those products do work.

The long answer is: they do help, but are definitely not a silver bullet solution to your smart meter radiation problems.

For months, I have been hesitant to recommend these covers since I had no idea if they really worked or not.

So I got in touch with several of the best EMF mitigation specialists I know, and so far all of them assured me that the covers did lead in a dramatic, measurable reduction in the RF signals emitted by smart meters. Good to know.

One company that kept showing up as top recommendations during my research was Smart Meter Covers, started by a guy from Arizona.

I got on the phone with Scott, the owner, and was very impressed by the depth of his knowledge and by his honesty.

So how do the covers work, and when should you consider using one?

First things first -- the BEST step you can take when it comes to taming your "smart" utility meter is to get rid of it. Call up your utility company and ask to opt-out of the smart meter program.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/97857475@N00/2305272011 / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Note: Smart utility meters generally have a digital display. The best way to know if your meter is a smart meter is to use a simple EMF meter like the ENV RD10 to verify if it's emitting RF signals.

Now, depending on your city, State or Country, one of these 3 things might happen:

1) The utility company has the right to refuse your opt-out demand, if the law enforces smart meters to be installed wherever you happen to live.

2) The utility company will remove your smart meter and install an analog meter instead, but charge you a monthly fee which acts as a "penalty" (completely ludicrous... but that's outside the scope of today's argument).

3) The utility company will replace your smart meter for free. Yay!

This is the #1 thing you can do about your smart meter -- get rid of it! Doing this will eliminate the many, many issues we're seeing with smart meters:

- 24/7 pulses of RF radiation inside and outside your home (some of the meters are extremely strong and pulse every couple seconds)

- Pollutes the entire electricity inside your home (creating what we call "dirty electricity"), which is associated with poor sleep, increased cancer risks, and elevation in blood sugar... just to name a few things...

- Fire hazard

- Surveillance and privacy issues

- And much, much more...

(Read my book "The Non-Tinfoil Guide to EMFs" for a more thorough review of everything that's wrong with these smart meters -- you can find it on Amazon.)

But if you are "stuck" with a smart meter, then it’s smart (see what I did there?) to consider installing a Smart Meter Cover on it.

How does it work? This stainless steel mesh "traps" the RF signals and dramatically reduces how much RF radiation your smart meter emits (usually reduces it by around 98%).

You see, the back of a smart meter is usually made out of a stainless steel plate, which in itself blocks RF pretty decently. When you add this metal enclosure on top of your meter, you create a partial Faraday cage which greatly dampens the RF signals. (To engineers: I know it's a rather simplistic explanation, but I want to keep things simple.)

The key here is that this cover is almost blocking all RF radiation, but not ALL of it. That way, the meter is still able to connect to the utility company wirelessly, and you won't get into any trouble.

Sounds good? Here’s where you can invest in a Smart Meter Cover:

===> Smart Meter Cover: Reduces RF radiation by 98%




Posted by Dan Howard on October 27th, 2019 7:35 PM
A client allowed me to take a picture of her 3 year old experiment. There is a McDonalds hamburger at 5:30 pm on the plate, a Wendy's Bacon Cheeseburger at 1:00 PM and
McDonald's fries at 9:00 PM ......each 3 years old.

 The client showed me the "experiment" after we discussed the balance between preservatives and healthy food.

The discussion sprang from our discussion that chemical treatment that would prevent all mold growth without dealing with the moisture issues would likely be toxic to other living
things 
 things.
Posted by Dan Howard on October 26th, 2019 3:09 PM
               The science of selecting the correct type of mold testing is complicated and confusing, especially when sorting through the questions of whether a patient is sick from mold exposure or identifying the mold source.  Many of the people exposed to mold never get sick from it, for others, it can ruin their health. 

                Functional Medical Doctors often suggest initial testing in a home by using dust tests known as ERMI or HERTSMI.  When you visit the blogs and group Facebooks of mold sensitive patients, you will find long discussions with much confusion about these dust tests. 

                ERMI (Environmental Relative Moldiness Index) is one test that is not often used or understood. ERMI is the product of the modern miracle of DNA technology. The EPA owns the patent on the process and limits its use to approved labs.  The EPA also states that their approval of the technology is only “experimental.” 

                HERTSMI is a related version of the test. The name is an acronym for “Health Effects Roster of Type Specific Formers of Mycotoxins and Inflammagens” For the purposes of this article, both tests are referred to as ERMI.

               However, there are many studies and anecdotal evidence of the benefit of the test results for patients with CIRS (Chronic Inflammatory Respiratory Disease) There are also some very interesting, but limited studies that high ERMI scores correlate with high lactate in the brain. High lactate correlates with cognitive problems. It may be that identifying high ERMI score conditions may be useful in treating some diseases. These are still very preliminary studies and require more research. 

                   Let’s do the Pros and Cons before we talk about how this technology works.

Pro:

ERMI can give very targeted specific specialization for target molds that can have an influence on health

ERMI can give evidence of the historic (new or old mold contaminations) mold conditions in a building.

Historic evidence of long term exposure vs short term exposure can be useful for medical practitioners     

Con:

ERMI does not quantify all of the types of mold, it only identifies the 36 species of targeted molds originally specified in the DNA profile. There is no way to identify the age of the dust collected, making it impossible to actually know how long there was a mold issue. ERMI does not help to isolate the source of the mold contamination to aid in any required remediation or the success of a remediation. 

Overview of the process

                A sample of dust is taken using a specialized dirt trap. The dirt/dust/debris is to be collected by using a vacuum cleaner hose hooked up to a specialized air filter. An alternative system is a smaller cassette and a standard air sampling pump. The sample is supposed to be drawn from a roughly 2 square yard carpet area in either a living room or bedroom.   

                The sample is sent to an EPA licensed lab. The lab takes the dust from the dirt trap and puts it through a filter to isolate the small, mold size particles.  (Think spaghetti in a strainer, only microscopic in size)

                Those particles are put into a tube with a known amount of Geotrichum candidum

and the DNA is beat out of the mold spores with microscopic beads called “bead pellets.” That mush is then filtered and the sifted genetic stuff is mixed with a buffer solution. It is then dumped into a solution called “Master Mix” and put through a series of temperature controlled reactions.

                If you are wondering the technical name for the magic chemistry we are doing, it is MSQPCR  or Mold Specific Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction 

                Now remember that known quantity of Geotrichum candidum that was in the mix? That is the reference basis that can be used to compare the assays (checking process) for each of the target molds (molds that they are looking for).  The checking process is done with a “Sequence Detector” (which is identifying DNA sequences)

                Once the 36 target molds are identified, the 26 in the WDB (Water Damage Building) group are measured and are compared to the common or outdoor group of 10 molds. 

The reason for the look at the ratio of the two is that the exact quantity of each mold is not determined by this test. The size of a sample could be small or big, based upon the amount of dirt we swept up.  We can’t figure out by counting pieces of DNA if there is a little or a lot of mold in the building. You get the point. We don’t know how much mold is in the building from an ERMI test. 

What we do know is that if most of the mold DNA is the outdoor molds, then there is less mold growing in the house. If there is a whole bunch more of the indoor mold than the exterior, oops, there is a lot more mold growing IN the house than coming in from the OUTSIDE.

                Scoring is done on a scale of -10 to 20.  The higher the number, the more mold that is from growing inside the house in the tested building area.  That ERMI Score number is a “sort of number,” not an exact measure. It is based on a limited number of tests from a limited geographic area. Hence reference to it as a “Relative Score.”               

             That folks, is what this ERMI and HERTSMI testing is about. It is amazing technology but has a very limited application. It can’t quantify mold contaminations or the success of any remediation efforts. According to the EPA, ERMI is an “emerging technology”. They further state that ERMI is still in the experimental stages and is not approved for medical diagnostic use.  Then there are Mycotox tests such as those offered by Great Plains Laboratories that test a patient’s urine to diagnose mold toxins. That test can identify the types of mold creating a patient reaction, but not the source. Yep, you can see why there’s confusion.

Go to http://www.Envirospect.com/ERMI for links and sources of additional information.
Posted by Dan Howard on September 27th, 2019 10:15 PM

                In thousands of homes and on social media posts across the land, you saw the annual notice heralding the end of summer vacation: “Summer is over and the kids are back in school”. Some will cry, some will cheer, some will only shrug their shoulders. No matter what we do or say, every school year, the emotion, and the back to school sales come to an end and attention shifts to the students actually being in school.  

 Click Here to Download a Copy of Published Article

             That is “all as it should be” with each new school year. The sad news is that the “welcome back student” message has been accompanied with too many news stories about mold being found in our nation’s schools. It is not an accident that “National Mold Awareness Month” is September.

               The bottom line on this is that parents DO NOT want their child sick because they go to school. Our schools that have mold are like the “Jaws” movies. Just when you think it is safe to return, we find out that it is “not so safe.”

When we experience any school environmental issue such as mold, it can be front page headlines, TV, talk show fodder and Facebook news feed material. 

Environmental issues in schools are not “just another student health issue”. These problems are a public relations nightmare, a staff human relations mine field, a facility management challenge, a budget buster, a political fiasco and a liability time bomb.

Signs of Mold in School

               If a school is flooded or has leaks that are not quickly cleaned up, there will be mold. Whether it is a roof leak, plumbing leak or any other area of wet surfaces, you can count on mold growing. 

               Parents should take a look around their child’s school. Water stains are the target to look for. Fuzzy or splotchy areas are the bullseye in the search for suspected mold. These can be in almost any area of a building anywhere from the highest ceiling to the lowest floor. In addition to the visual indicators of mold presence, odor can be indicator. When the odor of mold is in the school or on a child’s clothes, books, papers or possessions, mold should be investigated as a source of the offensive smell.  

             Sewage backups, leaks and all floods also have a host of water borne diseases and contaminants. When these occur, a professionally conducted disinfection must be conducted even when mold is not visible. Even a little dust left in an obscure corner after the flood is gone can enter through a cut in a student’s hand or their lungs long after the water is gone if the areas has not been disinfected.   

Mold is a Science Project

           Though not part of the approved school curriculum, mold that is found in the school is really a science experiment. Anywhere on earth that there is food and water, something will grow.  It can be the deepest ocean or highest mountain. It can be the north pole or south pole or anywhere in between. That scientific fact is that books, paper, wood floors, drywall, dust, or any other material or any other substrate that can grow mold will grow mold within 48 hours of leaks or high moisture occurring.  

 The most common sources of mold problems in a school are:
  • Roof, wall foundation or other leaks from the exterior
  • Plumbing leaks
  • Malfunctioning or poorly designed HVAC Systems
  • Condensation issues caused by improper temperatures and humidity being maintained
  • Floods

           The first step in preventing recurrence of mold is determining the conditions that were mold conducive. If mold grew in a school over the summer because the air conditioning was not run, or there are roof leaks, or any other reason, it will return if the cause of mold is not corrected. 

            Failure to correct the underlying cause of environmental hazards as well as the hazard itself, is a waste of money, and serves to mislead parents, administration and faculty into believing that the school mold environment is safe. In school we learned to consider both cause and effect. The same applies in the process of creating healthy indoor air quality.          

Schools Can Get Help to Keep our Children Safe from Mold

            The EPA provides great online tools available to learn the issues and solutions to mold problems.  These are great general guidelines, but can’t address individual conditions. Mold problems are often complicated by being the result of several underlying conditions that require expertise in multiple construction fields. 

              Unfortunately, learning to use and to then implement these tools is often much tougher than obtaining them.  Professional assistance is a good option to get an environmental awareness and mold prevention program up and running properly. Once established, existing staff can usually keep the program running.

              Usually an indoor air quality (IAQ) program process starts with an initial site assessment, or information gathering session. The environmental risks are evaluated and appropriate tests then conducted. These could include mold and allergen testing. If there was flooding or sewage backups, testing for a number of common infectious diseases should be added. 

             An educational staff can’t be expected to have the full knowledge to implement a program, but often, once in place, the good health of school occupants can be maintained through the corrections and adjustments made in the facility. There are several companies that have assessment and monitoring programs that include a yearly Indoor Air Quality Certificate for posting after the assessment and completion of any appropriate testing and corrections.

               School district participation in an environmental awareness and preventive care program can pay for itself in lower medical costs, lower property repair costs and better long term health of students and staff. The other benefit is “peace of mind” for parents, particularly in schools that have had prior mold problems.
Posted by Dan Howard on September 26th, 2019 6:37 PM

 

So let’s travel back in time to the 1950’s. The kids are bringing home friends and, well, mom needed to find a place for the kids to go. Someone figured out that the basement is already there, ready for action.  Add a little paneling and a couple of weekends work and maybe a pool table, and the kids would have a place to gather. With the possible addition of a six pack, the plan also worked for the adults and their friends. Welcome the basement game room to modern living.  

Click Here to Download "A Homeowners Guide to Finishing a Basement"

Sixty years later and the basement is still the cheapest place to add living space to a home. Today’s basements are “not your daddy’s game room” They are now often elaborate and expensive endeavors featuring wonderful products and materials that were science fiction in the 1950’s.

The bad news is that the words “moldy and basement” go together like the words “peanut & butter”. There are new building codes, energy saving requirements and changes in materials that have complicated the subject of finished basements.   

Today there are homes still under construction that are already growing fuzzy mold. Expensive does not mean “free from mold.” This year I have found two under construction homes over $750,000 in sales price that already had mold at an unhealthy level. Start with the normal moisture in building products and add that to “Energy Star” tight construction and you have the perfect petri dish.

As for older homes, buyers tend to think that a moldy and smelly basement will get better once they are living in the home. You can hear them say “the house smells like old people.” Guess what, after closing the only difference is that the new owner owns the odor and its causes, not the seller.             

As in most things, preparation is the most important place to start a project.

Look for water coming through the wall. White power, yellow stains or black areas on basement walls are the result of water penetration. Fix the cause. Water behind walls will result in mold, termites, carpenter ants and rot to materials.  It is also easier to locate and correct the water problem before walls and ceilings are installed.   

Test for moisture coming up from the floor. The simple trick is to securely duct tape the perimeter of an 18”X18” piece of clear plastic to the floor. Come back in 3 days. Look at the plastic. If water droplets have collected under the plastic, the water problem under the floor needs corrected before moving forward  

Test for radon and natural gas leaks before finishing the basement. In addition to making the basement a healthier environment, it will be easier and often less expensive to fix before the basement is finished.      

Move water and gas valves so that they can be used. They are installed for a purpose. You do not want to learn that purpose when water is running through a wall or ceiling.

Plan for all of the features you want in the room. Your plan should include any future changes that may happen in upper levels. Installing plumbing, wiring and heating for a future bath or other renovation will be easier when you have basement access. 

Check local codes. As one example, many codes and municipalities require the installation of a second method to exit the home from a finished basement. There are manufactured large window and window well assemblies that allow people another path to leave the basement. Many appraisers can’t add the value of a basement space as living space without that additional exit. Adding that feature can add thousands of dollars to the sales price. 

Avoid the Most Common Mistakes in Finishing Basements

Allow enough room around the hot water tank and furnace for both servicing and replacement. You will not like your plumber removing a section of wall to change your hot water tank.

Plan your rooms so that electrical panels are not located in clothes closets, bathrooms or stairwells.  That is an electrical code requirement.   

Allow for floor drains to be located where the traps can be filled with water. Sewer odor is a common problem if a trap dries out under a carpet.

Provide for comfortable heating, cooling and fresh air.  Call a professional for that part of the project. Most home improvement contractors and DIYers don’t have the experience or knowledge to make basements comfortable year around.  

Add enough lighting. Consider adding enough light fixtures to create a bright environment. Even if you call it a “man cave”, dark rooms are not pleasant and inviting.    

Solve moisture problems without adding interior French drains if possible. If an interior french drain is installed, seal the system.

Do not install sheet vinyl, not matter how cheap and easy it is to do. These floors trap moisture underneath the surface. The floor then turns gray with stains from moisture. 

Modern Tricks and Products for Better Basement Living

Material selection for the basement can make the difference between having an enjoyable family living area in the basement or a dreaded dark and smelly place.

Frame walls with steel studs instead of wood studs. It is not really so scary to use steel studs. They are easy to cut and screw together. They are better in basements because they are not a source of food for termites or mold. 

Do not install the new walls directly against the foundation. Allow an air space of an inch between your new walls and the foundation. That air space allows trapped condensate to vent out from behind walls.   

Use a wall finish such as fiberglass drywall. Traditional drywall, including MR (Moisture Resistant) board supports the growth of mold. Some of the fiberglass faced drywall products are DensArmor and Greenglass Board. 

Raise the wall finish and any wood trim about 3/8” up from the floor. This avoids the wicking of moisture up a wall if a leak occurs.  

Select a floor material that is resistance to water breakdown or mold.  Some examples would include carpet that is Olefin yarn based as opposed to other yarn systems. Avoid carpet pad. When you think about it, carpet pad is really a sponge that will hold dirt, odors and mold

Read the instructions on all flooring before purchasing. Yes, I know that reading directions is a tough task.  An example of why this is important is the popular composite or laminate flooring. Some of these materials specify “not for use in a below grade application.” Others require specialized underlayment or procedures for this use. Ceramic or solid vinyl flooring products such as Traffic Master are examples of good products for basements.  

When installing flooring, use adhesive suited for damp areas. Saving money on adhesives can be an expensive mistake

Cover plumbing pipes with foam insulation. Also insulate ductwork if you have air conditioning. Think of the glass of ice water on the table on the 4th of July. Covering pipes is like putting them in a Styrofoam cup instead of a sweating glass. You do not want dripping of pipes and ductwork.  

In the end, if a basement is not a comfortable place to go, it has little value. That is unless you want to grow mushrooms in your very own basement cave.

Posted by Dan Howard on September 13th, 2019 9:38 PM

Mold After Remediation

          The first time it happened was almost 30 years ago.  it still gives me the shivers. It was like watching a Real Estate train wreck. The sales commission whistle was blowing, and the buyer was on that train to owning a moldy home.

         Let’s be clear.  Some people don’t react to or get sick from mold. Mold exposure is a little like Russian Roulette.  If it is you, or your family that gets sick, mold is a big deal.
 
Click Here To Download A PDF Copy of Article As Published

          Back to that first-time mold nightmare. I was inspecting a finished basement with nasty black mold in a closet and behind the basement walls which were open in that closet. This was in the room that the home buyers we're going to use as a bedroom for one of their children.  

          Mold testing proved that the visible mold was Stachybotrys. That’s the mold you would know as “toxic black mold”. There was enough mold in the home that you could smell it from the top of the basement steps, so finding the mold was not difficult or a surprise.

         Instead of suggesting that the mold be remediated, the realtor hired another inspector who declared that “testing isn’t necessary because mold is present in all buildings”. He did a visual inspection and wrote a letter saying that mold is common and not a concern. I'm not suggesting that every realtor or seller tries to ignore environmental hazards to get to their commission, but some do. Most Real Estate professionals understand environmental hazards and do everything possible to protect their buyers’ health.  

         The buyer being convinced to buy a home with mold issues scenario has played out in front of me many times over the last decades. About 4 weeks ago, one of those times was a dad and a daughter who were sick in their home. Their family had moved into that home 2 years before our meeting. They showed me an almost identical letter declaring “no problem” from that same inspector as the one from 30 years ago.  Despite that letter, they had mold and it was a problem.

The Other Scenario to Fear is Remediators Treating the Home Without Correcting the Cause of the Mold

         If mold grows on a piece of bread, and you scrape the mold off, the mold will grow again. This is science and the same conditions results in the same results.

          Knowing that principal, another inspector I know forwarded me a letter from another real estate deal.  The letter stated that treatment was performed. The remediator wrote a letter declaring his own “visual inspection showed no need for further testing.” Testing after treatment is usually done to show that treatment was successful.  It’s important for everyone to understand and recognize when environmental issues are not being properly handled. Despite the remediators letter, there was visible mold in that home after remediation.  

         I suggested that my colleague test the home for his clients. My advice included checking the home the night before the scheduled testing to make sure that the home was not being “aired out” ahead of the test so that it would pass. It turns out that the seller had all the windows open when the house was checked the night before the scheduled testing.       

         The foundation leaks that caused the mold were not corrected and the mold was still visible. The seller tried to cheat on the test. Even if the mold level was temporarily reduced, it will be back because the leaks weren’t addressed.       

         People do get sick from mold and the mold and its consequences become the new owner’s problem the day of closing.

The Most Common Conditions that Cause Mold in Homes and Other Buildings

  • Finished basements
  • Interior French drains
  • Crawl spaces
  • Homes that were unheated over a winter
  • Flipped or foreclosed homes
  • Homes that ever-had leaking basements, roofs, or windows
  • Homes that have flooded
  • Homes that had sewage backups or plumbing leaks

         Our bodies try to protect us as apart of the universal plan. If something doesn't taste, feel or smell good, it's usually not healthy for us. The idea that a house smells bad only because it's been closed-up for a while is just not true.

In many instances, a seller will work hard to cover up or disguise environmental problems. 

  • Painting over stained areas
  • Using plugins or other fragrances to disguise odors
  • Opening windows to air out the home before showings
  • Having the home sprayed with a moldicide when listing, but not fixing the cause of the mold
  • Providing testing that is inadequate or misleading

          Many people take comfort and believe that all home inspectors will look for and recognize mold or other environmental hazards.  The sad truth is mold and other environmental hazards are not considered part of the standards of practice for home inspectors. It is tough to know what you don’t know, and inspectors are not an exception to that rule.

There is always a cause for an odor in any Home or Building.  Some of the things other than mold include:

  • Stored or improperly applied pesticides
  • Formaldehyde from flooring, cabinets and other building materials
  • Defective or misused stains or coating
  • Sewage backups and hidden leaks
  • Defective ductwork
  • Gas is from industrial waste that was buried before construction
  • Spilled chemicals from construction or remediations
  • Improperly installed or sized heating systems

The bottom line is that if there is an odor, staining, history of prior problems or everything is covered up with fresh paint, the best polices are to not consider a property, or hire an independent environmental expert you can trust.

Posted by Dan Howard on September 1st, 2019 7:23 PM

The Sewage Cleanup Process Explained

Stop the water that is causing the back up.  Don’t flush the toilet or run water in the sink. Stop the washing machine and anything else adding to the problem.

 Keep people with compromised immune systems or without proper protection from entering the contaminated room. Never allow anyone with open skin injuries near sewage.

Take as many pictures of the backup and damage as you can. Document the extent and depth of the sewage. Also photo all contents.  Photos can help identify the contents which are lost if you are covered by insurance. If the problem was created by a utility, they may require proof of the extent of your loss.  Pictures are never a mistake.

Call your insurance agent. You have a duty as an insured to minimize the damage from any covered loss and any help or advice from them to minimize the damage can help you.

If you know professionals that you trust and know that they will do a good job, have that company respond to the problem. Unfortunately, the “preferred remediation vendor” suggested by an adjuster may not be the best choice for you or your home. Homeowners can select a company they trust. Claims are paid using standardized software that accounts for the actual work required “item by item”. This program is like the one used for repairs to cars after an accident.     

 Do not touch contaminated materials without personal protection such as gloves, protective clothing, glasses and masks.

Have the standing sewage water pumped or removed from the area. Sump pumps that can pump down to 1/8 inch of standing water can be used to accomplish this. The sooner the water is gone the less water is absorbed by the building and contents.

Turn off any electrical system or appliance. Any time water and electricity mix can be a disaster. 

Make sure that any ductwork or other pathway that could spread the odor and contamination are closed off. Open any windows and vent the area.

Seal the contaminated areas of a building from the areas that are not contaminated. Close doors and hang plastic sheets in openings.

 Install professional grade exhaust fans (negative air equipment) to drive the odor and any airborne particles out of the building.          

Do not place fans to dry the contaminated area prior to cleaning the surfaces. Never sweep or disturb dried sewage. That puts it into the air where it can both spread and be inhaled.   

Remove items that can’t be salvaged from the building. That would include wet drywall, paneling, most carpeting and pad, upholstered furniture, curtains, wet books and similar items. Bag the items before carrying them to reduce additional area or personal contamination.

Remove and dispose of items that cost more to clean than to replace.

Stage the items that can be cleaned and salvaged in a place where they can be cleaned. It is best to not move those items to uncontaminated building areas because that creates more areas that will need decontaminated.   The best place would be the outdoors if the weather allows or a separate block garage or other facility. In the case where I was with Un-Flood-It, those options were not practical because it was a rainy day. Their innovative solution was a large box truck in the driveway to stage the items that could be safely cleaned.  

 Physical removal of the waste sewage on contents is an essential part of the cleaning process before disinfection. After wiping, Un-Flood-It used a plant based disinfectant and anti-mold product to disinfect contents. My testing surfaces with ATP methods proved that the product is effective.

Open any wall cavities that have gotten wet. Remove the distance up from the floor that the materials have gotten wet including baseboard, wall materials and insulation.

Once windows and doors can be closed, dry the area using dehumidifiers. This is not effective while the area is being vented with open windows and doors and may need to wait until the initial removal and waste removal is complete.

The best cleanup procedure is low pressure steaming of floors, walls and other contaminated surfaces followed by a disinfectant spray. It cleans the surfaces of the waste in addition to disinfection. This should be a slow and methodical process. Clean inch by inch, square foot by square foot for the best results. 

Steam Cleaning sewage contamination

The bottom line is your health and the value of your home is dependent upon proper cleanup after a sewage backup of any type. As an environmental inspector, I have found that a “do it yourself” cleanup can be the source of mold, odor and health problems years after the backup occurred. An improper cleanup can also make resale of a home more difficult. A professional cleanup is the best solution to sewage backup.       

Go to www.Envirospect.com/sewagecleanup  for more information about Healthy Infusion Professionals


Posted by Dan Howard on July 27th, 2019 3:02 AM

Restoring A Heathy Home After A Sewage Backup

Let’s start this subject with a collective “YUK”!  There are not many events in home ownership that are more disgusting than a sewer backup. That holds true whether it is a septic system backup or a municipal sanitary sewer backup. It is nasty.

The floating stained shreds of toilet tissue, the black and grey water, the odor and various lumps amid the water are not easy to forget. 
                                Click Here To Download a PDF Copy of Published Article

Sewage backups rank as one of the top causes of mold contamination of homes in addition to the other illnesses that it can harbor. If you think about it, sewage is both food and water for mold.    

Sewage backups and drain overflows contain contaminants that can cause serious illness or disease. Disease causing agents in raw sewage include bacteria, parasites, and viruses that cause serious illnesses including Hepatitis A. Tetanus, Leptospirosis, infections by Cryptosporidium & Giardia and gastrointestinal diseases.

The best advice is to have a professional with proper training and equipment clean up any sewage problem. In many cases the sewage problem is covered by a homeowner’s insurance policy.

Whether you make the choice to have a professional do a cleanup or not, it is better to know the correct way to handle the sewage. I have wanted to write an accurate article about the subject for years but needed to see a cleanup first-hand. I thank Un-Flood-It of Tarentum PA for allowing me to accompany them on a proper professional sewage cleanup.  


Posted by Dan Howard on July 27th, 2019 2:54 AM
This is a long video, but if you are or know someone who is environmentally ill, it is a "must watch."  It is what happens and how there can be hope and a way out.

Posted by Dan Howard on July 21st, 2019 8:22 PM

Imagine struggling with an unexplained illness that robs you of normal life. You go from traditional doctor to traditional doctor and still no answers other than it must be your imagination. This isn’t science fiction. It is real people, real life and may even be you or your loved one. 

For too long, people have unknowingly eaten, inhaled, drank and absorbed toxins that are often hidden in everyday products and the vary air and water we need to live.  

Big business and government have told us not to worry, they will keep us safe. We are told that we can trust the food, water and air. They tell us the multitude of energy waves they beam through our bodies won’t hurt us. They did the same with asbestos, lead paint, radon and the drinking water in Flint Michigan.      

There is new hope and healing for the millions of people affected with environmentally created health problems. CIRS, MCS, chemical toxicity, autoimmune disease and sensitivity to electro-magnetic forces are some of the illnesses. For many individuals, the health problems are the result of compromised health due to chemotherapy, organ transplants, and other illnesses that attack the bodies’ ability to heal.

Modern chemistry has brought us tens of thousands of untested new chemicals mixed in combinations to create hundreds of thousands of new exposures.   If the product doesn’t have a toxin as a key ingredient, manufacturers often add toxic chemicals to create a pleasant odor.    

What we have been doing is not enough to protect our health and the health of our children It is not OK to keep dosing environmentally ill individuals and ignore the source and causes. It is unacceptable to dismiss environmental illness as imagined or unimportant.  

People are the sum of their genetics, health history and exposures. We accept that some children can find a peanut deadly, but have a difficult time understanding that other exposures can be deadly.

It is time for qualified Functional Professionals to work together to identify the causes of environmental health, find ways to avoid the toxins and help the people affected by environmental hazards to heal.   

Functional Health Professionals

It is not enough to give people pills to treat the symptoms of environmental illness instead of the illness itself.  Functional Health Professionals identify the cause and source of illness. They prescribe testing that can confirm what is the cause of illness. The source of illness can range from the food we eat to the air we breathe.

 When food is the source of illness, they prescribe diets to improve health. When environmental factors are the issue, they refer patients to Functional Environmental Professionals to test and evaluate the source of toxins. Mold is the most common source of environmental illness.

 The Functional Health Professional’s next steps are to provide advice to avoid the risk and medical care detoxifying and healing patients.

Functional Environmental Professionals

Functional Environmental Professionals (FEPs) explore the wide range of sources of environmental health risks. Mold is the most common problem. Toxic exposures can be found in drinking water, building materials, construction defects, HVAC systems, or from the activities of every-day living. Health risks can be from daily or occupational activities, frequented buildings or even outdoor sources. Testing is done to confirm the source of an exposure and then it is important for the FEP to identify and report on the changes needed to remediate the risk and avoid its return. Educating the client in avoiding future exposures is important to recovery. All buildings and their exposures are a science experiment. We all know that if we do not change the conditions of the experiment, the results will be the same. Identifying the changes that are required to keep a building healthy is a critical part of the assessment that requires a qualified Functional Environmental Professional.           

Functional Remediators

 It is not enough to spray a chemical in a building and declare that everything is better. Functional Remediation Professionals (FRPs) understand that there is not a single magic spray or pixie dust that remediates every building. When you clean your kitchen counter, you wipe the food and debris that is the food of bacterial and viruses off the counter. Just picture if you sprayed Lysol on the kitchen counter without cleaning up the food debris for the next couple of weeks. Yep, Lysol has a 99.8% kill germ claim, but that is not enough to spray a house without cleaning up the bad stuff where the contaminants are living.  It is critical to test a patient’s reaction to treatment products before they are applied. This is especially true in one that is occupied by chemically sensitive or environmentally ill individuals. Functional Remediators follow the protocols of Functional Environmental Professionals that include containment, negative air and air scrubbing. Just as the dandelion will spread its white seeds when blown on, contaminants can be spread through a building during remediation. Improper remediation can make an unhealthy building even more toxic.           

The Healthy Infusion Program Brings Functional Professionals Together

It is not enough to treat symptoms of illness. We should have healing.

It is not enough to test for an environmental risk. We should strive to correct the cause or reduce the exposure and its return.

It is not enough to spray a “one size fits all” chemical and declare a building free of toxins. We must treat with sensitivity to the occupants and using methods to contain exposures during treatment. We must change the conditions that cause a toxic environment.

Functional Professionals are a team that is focused on identifying the underlying conditions and improving the causes and conditions that can be improved.     

Simply put, the Healthy Infusion Program is designed to bring the functional professionals together to address the source of environmental hazards and the path toward good health.

Where do we go From Here?

We know that our modern world has created many environmental risks that can affect each person differently. We need to understand the complexities of the life today and not dismiss the concerns of those that are affected by elements of our changing, complex and often toxic environment. We need to work together to provide the best outcomes for environmentally ill individuals.     

Posted by Dan Howard on May 31st, 2019 10:05 PM

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