Environmental Issue & Sick Building Syndrome Blog


Pesticides: Having a professional treat for pests is not a guaranty of safe use of pesticide.  Some professionals use too much chemical to avoid return of the pests. In other instances, the problem is consumers not following directions or storing the leftover chemicals in the home. These products are often poisons for people as well as pests. Another common problem is a neighbor of a chemically sensitive individual’s use of chemicals in yards and homes.         

Chemiclas in the home

New homes: There are hundreds of products off gassing chemicals in new construction. We have found some very unusual sources of toxic gasses in new homes. In one case, the problem in a $750,000 home was defective flexible ductwork. The homeowners could not live in the home until the ductwork was removed and replaced.  

Home improvement and building supplies: You have probably heard about the Lumber Liquidators formaldehyde in flooring problem. Carpet, counters, sheathing, and almost every product in the home can have plastic which is made by chemistry that depends on heat, catalysts, timing, mixing and a host of factors that result in the imperfect creation of very complex chemicals. Some of those chemicals can be toxic to people and will evaporate from the materials.       
Cleaning products: The use of very concentrated cleaning supplies can create toxic residue and fumes. We have found numerous instances of offices becoming unhealthy as a result of these industrial strength products. 

Drugs: We have found homes and multi-family units that were toxic with the residue of drug manufacture. As an example, the manufacture of Meth uses Drano, lye and sulfuric acid, and other toxic chemicals    

Soil Gases: Many homes and other buildings are built on reclaimed industrial sites and farms. The chemicals and pesticides that may have entered the soil can be very safe in an open field. Buildings constructed over this soil can suck those chemicals into the air occupants breathe.   

Stored Products: Just about every container will leak fumes over time. One nasty smelling home we found was venting gases from the stored chemicals that were used to build model rockets. Another home had the chemicals from a photo lab. Another family thought it was a great idea to store chemicals used to dry clean clothing.    

Neighboring Environmental Problems: in one case, a neighbor had a side business that used toxic chemicals. He would pour those chemicals down their drains. The chemicals would evaporate into the neighboring home from the sewer making those people deathly ill.  A nearby fracking operation was a problem for one homeowner who was using a HRV system to pull outside air into their home.  

Misuse of Everyday Products: The safety of products is judged on “normal” use. As an example, many of the plug-in products to make your home smell good anticipate a minimal use in a home. Put one of those in every room and you can have a toxic level of exposure.

Posted in:Toxic Homes and tagged: pesticidesToxichomes
Posted by Dan Howard on July 27th, 2018 9:04 PM

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

Published on June 24, 2016

Did you know that every day in your home you come in contact with toxic and hazardous chemicals? If you don’t pay attention and make a concerted effort, it’s almost impossible to avoid this stuff. Let’s look at the most common household chemicals, and what you can do to reduce your exposure and susceptibility to their negative impact on health. 

Are Air Fresheners Hazardous?

Just because something smells nice and fresh doesn’t mean that it is good for you. Air fresheners are a prime example. Air fresheners can work by interfering with your sense of smell by coating your nasal passages with an oily film, or they can contain nerve-numbing agents.

Information published in a 2015 issue of The Journal of Toxicological Sciences concluded that air fresheners are a source of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in indoor environments. They also contain ultrafine particles and formaldehyde which may cause sensory irritation, respiratory dysfunction, and other serious problems.[1] The full list of harmful side effects is long… damage to the central nervous system, altered hormone levels, organ damage, and damage the pulmonary and cardiovascular systems.[1] Even worse, the negative effects of air fresheners may take years to surface. At that point, it’s too late.

Are Household Cleaners Hazardous?

Ammonia is found in a variety of household cleaners—kitchen, bathroom, floor, oven, glass, and polishers. If the product is at least 5% ammonia, it has to be labeled as poisonous.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine maintains TOXNET, the Toxicology Data Network. According to TOXNET, short-term exposure to ammonia can irritate, burn, and even damage the eyes and skin. Ammonia is irritating to the respiratory tract and causes coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Higher exposure can cause pulmonary edema, a life-threatening issue.[2]

Ammonia is not the only hazardous ingredient in household cleaners. Drain and oven cleaners contain sodium hydroxide (lye). Lye is corrosive and a strong irritant to both skin and eyes.[3] Just touching the stuff can produce serious damage and swallowing it will result in a “lights out” emergency.[4] In high concentrations, lye can burn skin and cause permanent blindness on contact.

Toilet bowl cleaners often contain hydrochloric acid, which is corrosive and will seriously damage any tissue it touches, irreversible damage. Protective equipment is an absolute requirement when handling any product that contains hydrochloric acid (or better yet, don’t handle it). Never mix hydrochloric acid-containing products with bleach as it will produce toxic gas!

When buying household cleaners, read the labels. Pay attention if they say “danger” or “corrosive.” All household products come with warnings and disclaimers. Read them and make sure you know what you are about to buy and exactly how, and how not, to handle it! 

The Problem With Dishwasher and Laundry Detergent

Most dishwashing detergents contain chlorine in a dry, concentrated form. Those little dishwasher packets usually have bright colors and have been mistaken for candy by many a curious child. In fact, they’re actually a leading cause of child poisonings. The similar-looking laundry detergent packages have also become a problem.[5]

From January 2013 through December 2014, poison control centers in the U.S. received 62,254 calls related to laundry and dishwasher detergent exposure by children younger than six years old.[5] About 60% of all calls were related to detergent packets; 45% were referred to a healthcare facility—more than twice the number of visits caused by traditional laundry detergents.[5] Every 45 seconds, poison control centers receive a call about a child exposed to toxic laundry detergent packets.

Toxic Carpets, Hazardous Furniture

Many carpet cleaning formulas use toxic substances such as perchloroethylene and ammonium hydroxide. The former is a known carcinogen and can damage the liver, kidneys, and nervous system.[6] The latter is corrosive to the eyes, skin, and respiratory passages.[7, 8]

It’s easy for the carpet, upholstery, and furniture to blend in with the scenery. Few people think of these items as a source of hazardous chemicals. But, they can actually outgas VOCs.[9] VOCs are a group of hazardous chemicals that evaporate at room temperature and include benzene, acetone, and formaldehyde. Exposure, even short-term exposure, to VOCs can cause respiratory irritation, eye irritation, nausea, and headache. It can also trigger asthma symptoms. Long-term exposure to VOCs can cause liver, kidney, or nervous system damage, even cancer.[10] 

How to Limit Exposure to Hazardous Household Chemicals

There are many other ways to reduce the toxicity of your indoor living environment. Stop using toxic brands, start using natural, non-toxic alternatives. You can even go a step further and make your own. Baking soda can be an effective cleaner for sinks and tubs. Mix water and vinegar to make a good surface cleaning solution that’ll handle doors and windows without issue.

Instead of chemical-based air fresheners, opt for natural air fresheners such as fresh flowers and houseplants.

For laundry, use fragrance-free detergents and avoid the detergent packets. Opt for eco-friendly and organic alternatives.

Traditional mattresses can be loaded with flame-retardant chemicals. Instead, get one that’s all-natural and made from untreated wool, organic cotton, or natural latex.

Instead of cheap, synthetic carpet, find a natural option, preferably something made from wool or hemp. Hemp is resistant to mold and mildew and you can use it in the bathroom or other moist areas. Also, consider that most popular carpet cleaners can be quite harmful to humans and the environment. Instead, use organic and biodegradable alternatives.

To compensate for the toxins you can’t avoid, consider performing a comprehensive, full-body cleanse. Cleansing your colon, kidneys, liver, and gallbladder is a great way to feel better. You can also perform targeted cleanses for harmful organisms or chemicals and toxic metals. Eliminating toxins should not only make you feel better, it should boost your energy.

Do you have any tips for a less-toxic home? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.

References (10)

  1. Kim, Sanghwa, Seong-Ho Hong, Choon-Keun Bong, and Myung-Haing Cho. "Characterization of Air Freshener Emission: The Potential Health Effects." J. Toxicol. Sci. The Journal of Toxicological Sciences 40.5 (2015): 535-50. Web. 9 May 2016.
  2. "HSDB: AMMONIA." TOXNET. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 24 July 2015. Web. 09 May 2016.
  3. Mackison, F.W., R.S. Stricoff, L.J. Partridge, Jr. (eds.). NIOSH/OSHA – Occupational Health Guidelines for Chemical Hazards. DHHS/NIOSH Publication No. 81-123 (3 VOLS). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, Jan. 1981, p. 2.
  4. Gosselin, R.E., R.P. Smith, H.C. Hodge. Clinical Toxicology of Commercial Products. 5th ed. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1984., p. II-66. Print.
  5. Davis, M. G., M. J. Casavant, H. A. Spiller, T. Chounthirath, and G. A. Smith. "Pediatric Exposures to Laundry and Dishwasher Detergents in the United States: 2013-2014." Pediatrics 137.5 (2016): n. pag. Web. 9 May 2016.
  6. "Perchloroethylene (PCE, PERC) - Toxic Chemicals and Environmental Health Risks Where You Live and Work - Text Version." Tox Town. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 31 Mar. 2016. Web. 09 May 2016.
  7. "AMMONIUM HYDROXIDE (10%-35% Solution)." The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 01 July 2014. Web. 09 May 2016.
  8. Lee, Soo-Jeong, Bora Nam, Robert Harrison, and Oisaeng Hong. "Acute Symptoms Associated with Chemical Exposures and Safe Work Practices among Hospital and Campus Cleaning Workers: A Pilot Study." Am. J. Ind. Med. American Journal of Industrial Medicine 57.11 (2014): 1216-226. PubMed. Web. 9 May 2016.
  9. Katsoyiannis, Athanasios, Paolo Leva, and Dimitrios Kotzias. "VOC and Carbonyl Emissions from Carpets: A Comparative Study Using Four Types of Environmental Chambers." Journal of Hazardous Materials152.2 (2008): 669-76. PubMed. Web. 9 May 2016.
  10. "Volatile Organic Compounds in Your Home." Minnesota Department of Health. Minnesota.gov, 26 Jan. 2016. Web. 09 May 2016.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

Posted by Dan Howard on February 20th, 2018 7:52 PM


Mold and its potential effect on your pets is an important subject to our staff and many of the people we work with. Our dog, Buddy has Asthma, and a mold free environment is VERY important for him. 

Just as mold can affect the health of people, pets can have health problems caused by mold exposure.

If you think about it, most of our pets spend more time in the home than we do, giving them a higher level of exposure. No wonder they can get sick before we do! 

It’s a shame we cannot send them out to do the shopping, visit our relatives, attend events and in general make appearances in our behalf when we would rather be staying home….but…then we would have the higher exposure to any potential contaminants in the home.  

                This is a great slideshow from PetMD.com.  Rest assured we understand that the health of your pests is important, and as pet owners take the healthy home goal seriously for you and your family, including the 4 legged members of the household

In this picture, Left to Right  Noah the Assassin (You can  ask  how he earned his name) and Buddy Howard  (as sweet a dog as ever lived)

Noah wanted it mentioned that we care about mold for him too. He is 17 years old and though he has not had Asthma like Buddy has, his health is important to us too!

Posted in:pet health home and tagged: HomepetToxic
Posted by Dan Howard on September 30th, 2017 11:58 AM

Our Note 

This is a sad story of mold exposure, ruined health and financial devastation and a dream of home ownership torn away for a family. The missing part of the story is that regular home inspections do not include environmental issues. Firms like Envirospect? do the kind of environmental assessments that can protect consumers from these problems.


Back in 2009, Deborah Rumberger saw homeownership as the key to providing stability for her two young daughters, then 13 and 7. A few days before Halloween that year, after months of house hunting, she found the one: a 100-year-old Victorian home in Helena, Montana.

It wasn't easy. For starters, her budget didn't allow for a ton of options within a safe neighborhood. "And I just wasn't interested in a lot of the homes I could afford," she says. It's why she initially thought the two-story property she would later purchase for $173,500 was too good to be true — but she pushed her doubts to the back of her mind and bought it anyway.

That first night, after an exhausting day of unpacking, she tucked her kids into bed and crawled under the sheets. Instead of sleep, however, "I got so sick I thought I was going to die," Rumberger recalls. Her heart started pounding and her mouth went dry. All night long, she kept wanting to get up, but she felt so stiff she was barely able to move.

The next morning, a thought made her go white: There's something wrong with this house.


That same day, Rumberger started calling everyone she could think of to try to get out of her mortgage: the realtors, the bank, the title company, everyone. "Nobody cared," she says. "They chalked it up to buyer's remorse or stress from moving."

Courtesy of Deborah Rumberger

By the end of November, after about 30 days in her new home, Rumberger was constantly exhausted — more than the usual fatigue that comes with working and raising two children. One night her chest hurt so badly that she went to the emergency room, convinced she was having a heart attack. Another time she rushed herself to the hospital when her limbs went completely numb. By January, she noticed troublesome changes in her daughters, too. Her eldest was acting depressed, complaining of an itchy scalp and had frequent nose bleeds. Her youngest had sinus problems for the first time in her life, along with acid reflux and recurring nightmares.

Terrified over what was happening to her family, and convinced her house was the problem, Rumberger continued contacting her realtor, her bank, her title company, her inspector and her doctors. Finally, that spring, she found help in a neighbor named Clara Holliday. Holliday introduced her to the homeowner who lived in the house before the family that sold it to Rumberger — and that's when she learned about the home's 20-year history with flooding and mold.


Rumberger learned through this previous homeowner that the second-floor plumbing had once been re-routed through the attic. The problem was the attic wasn't heated, which can lead to frozen pipes. Frozen pipes can crack and leak when they expand in warmer weather, which Rumberger suspects happened during a particularly bad winter in 1989, when no one was residing in the home.

Sotereas Pantazes, co-founder of EFynch, a handyman community in Baltimore, says he's seen basements result in mold just days after a significant flooding. Rumberger, however, was living in the home 20 years after unresolved flood damage.

The old homeowner urged Rumberger to search her home for mold, starting with the tub in her bathroom.

Rumberger didn't have to search long. "I peeled back the plastic lining and it was filled with mold," she says. Next, she pulled down nearby drywall and tore up part of the carpet. Everything was covered in toxic black spores.

"At first, I felt relief and thought 'aha!' I knew something was going on," she says. "But at the time, I still didn't understand how damaging and dangerous toxic mold is."

Dr. Ann Shippy, a Texas-based physician and author of Mold Toxicity Workbook: Assess Your Environment & Create a Recovery Plan, says every one of Rumberger's symptoms — fatigue, weakness, headaches, morning stiffness and joint pain — is textbook mold toxicity. "Mold produces chemicals, like microtoxins and microbial volatile organic compounds that have seriously dangerous side effects," she explains. "A lot of people think you're only affected by mold spores if you're allergic to them, but mold makes chemicals that build up in your body." This is why Rumberger's two daughters didn't feel sick until a couple of months after the move — it sometimes takes time to notice the symptoms of mold toxicity.

Courtesy of Deborah Rumberger

After discovering the mold in her bathroom, Rumberger convinced a home inspector to come over that very same day. A moisture mirror, which helps identify mold behind the walls, showed evidence of growth all over the house. Her homeowner's insurance didn't cover prior mold or water damage, so she was looking at an $80,000 price tag to remediate her home from top to bottom. "When I heard that, I knew it wasn't a possibility," she says.

She wasn't ready to give up on her dream house, so Rumberger decided to do the remediation on her own. She rented a negative air pressure machine (which draws the mold spores out of the house), along with suits, goggles and other supplies for a total of $500.

But once she got to work, stirring up the mold made the family's symptoms even worse. By June, they started camping in the backyard, only going inside to use the restroom. "By July I couldn't even go inside the house, because it felt like there were so many spores that they would attack anything moist, including us," she says.

According to Dr. Shippy, she's right: "When you open up a wall with mold, you send a lot of a very powerful chemicals into the air that you breathe into your lungs, so they go straight into circulation." Just like doctors have found one of the most effective ways to get medication into someone quickly is though the lungs (verses digestion, which filters through the liver first), this makes these chemicals in the air even more dangerous.

Courtesy of Deborah Rumberger

Camping lasted a month, until they got rained out. With no nearby family to turn to, they moved into the local YMCA. They'd spend the next year sleeping in cheap motels, at her co-worker's house and late, renting two bedrooms over a garage before finally ending up in the apartment where they live today.


In June 2010, around the same time Rumberger was forced to move her family into their backyard, she decided to take legal action. "I held off for a while, because I thought 'we don't want to do litigation, we can fix this,'" she remembers. But, financially, she didn't see any other way out.

Rumberger filed against four parties she believes knew about the mold before the sale. "It took almost six years, I had five or six lawyers during that time and it was almost as hard as the mold exposer," she says. Even though they settled to the mutual satisfaction of all parties, Rumberger doesn't think she'd do it again.

"We were able to get out of debt, but let's just say we're still tenants and our lifestyle didn't change much," she says. The only positives Rumberger saw from the settlement was being able to afford some much-needed medical treatment and finally being able to put this experience behind her once and for all.

Courtesy of Deborah Rumberger

Then, in December 2010, Rumberger also convinced her bank to suspend the mortgage payments she still owed and sold the house (with full disclosure about the mold), ultimately incurring an almost $80,000 loss — about the same amount as the initial remediation estimate, but with a lot more headaches.

The new owners finished remediating the mold, completely rebuilt the interior and turned it into a three-unit rental, which Rumberger still drives by today. "For the longest time, we'd just avoid that road and wouldn't drive down it," she says. But now, on occasion, she gets the urge to see the house in which she thought she'd grow old.

As for Rumberger and her daughters, they still live in the same apartment they moved into a year after fleeing their Victorian dream home. They've been renting it for more than five years and, even if it was financially feasible, Rumberger doesn't see herself buying again. "We lost a lot of years of our lives and still have some health issues," she says. "But it's just one of those things we have to come to terms with and move beyond."

Courtesy of Deborah Rumberger

Pantazes says if an inspector doesn't see mold with their own eyes, they don't have to disclose it. But that doesn't mean potential buyers can't look for their own clues, such as patches in the walls, discoloration, walls that bow and bend and just general poor home maintenance. "Little signs will show you if the owner is a person who took care of their home," he says.

Another thing Rumberger says shouldn't be underestimated: your gut. "My older daughter didn't have a great feeling about the house, but we just shook it off." Today, she wishes she listened to her daughter's instincts, which might have spared them the entire ordeal. "Our American Dream became a nightmare, but the biggest lesson I learned is when to hold up, when to fold up and when to run away."


Posted in:Health and Safety and tagged: MoldToxicresident
Posted by Dan Howard on September 16th, 2017 9:19 AM



My Favorite Blogs:

Sites That Link to This Blog: