A Healthy House is a part of High-Performing houses. These homes provide good indoor air quality (IAQ), environmental quality (EQ), good ventilation, and clean water. Also, they help us reduce the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOC), toxins and chemicals, humidity and mold, and electromagnetic field (EMF).
Here is a must do list:
- Design and build a tight building envelope and seal the house.
- Provide a good HVAC system to ventilate and filtrate air properly.
- Provide good water filtration system.
- Don’t bring pollutants inside the house.
- If anyone in your household suffer from asthma, respiratory issues, EMF, or is chemical sensitive, you should consult with a doctor to determine the level of illness, so we know how far to take mediation.
INDOOR AIR and ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY: We spend 90% of our time indoors. Depending on a person’s genetic makeup, immune system and tolerance levels, as well as the level of toxicity and time of exposure, a person can become chemically sensitive and begin to experience signs of deteriorating health.
The EPA estimates we receive 70-75% of our exposure to chemicals at home, like pollen, volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and dioxide, gas leaks, mold, and radon. The way we live, wood and tobacco smoke, gas stoves, pets, cleaning supplies or duty houses, finishes, flooring, cabinets, furniture, bedding and clothing, makeup, toys, candles and potpourri, etc., they are, in many cases, big contributions to poor indoor air quality as well. Also, a tight, well insulated house will reduce significantly outside noise.
Some of the advantages, for a small cost increase, in many studies around the country:
- High-performance ventilation strategies reduce respiratory illness up to 20%.
- Good ventilation and lighting can increase worker productivity up to 23%. Student math performance increased by 20%, and reading performance by 26%
- Increase in worker and student’s satisfaction and retention.
- Reduces sick building syndrome (SBS) symptoms and absenteeism up to 25%.
- Workers scored 30% higher in cognitive tasks.
- Reduces building operating costs.
HUMIDITY AND MOLD: High humidity in homes help produce mold. Mold produce allergens, irritants and toxic substances. Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Leaky houses of old, would dry-out quickly. New codes, requiring tight building envelopes, require good system and product design as well as well executed installation details.
A well designed and installed HVAC system, will remove and maintain humidity level between 45-50%. In highly humid climates, around the coastlines, and the Southeast US, a separate dehumidifier may be required. Other reason to have high humidity, and possible mold, in homes are non-ventilated bathrooms and laundries, leaky roofs and pipes, unsealed penetrations, flooding, damp basements and crawl spaces, condensation, wet clothes, etc.
Our solution is to design and build tight building envelopes with good moisture management details in the drawings, and we teaching our builders and framers to follow them correctly, and we get involved in the HVAC design as well. We also teach the homeowners to live and maintain their homes properly, with low humidity.
ELECTRO MAGNETIC FIELD: Electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) are invisible areas of energy, and often referred as radiation. Electricity transmission and distribution lines in the fields, electric motors, home wiring and appliances account for the biggest background level of power frequency electric and magnetic fields. A well designed house wiring system should not be the source of a magnetic field; however they can happen if:
- There is a connection somewhere in the house between neutral and earth, so that some of the neutral current can flow out of the cable into the earth.
- There is an interruption (or even just a high-impedance joint) in a ring main.
- A circuit is wired so that the current flows in different cables which aren’t necessarily close to each other.
A few studies that have been conducted show no evidence of a link between EMF exposure and cancers, such as leukemia, brain cancer, and breast cancer.
CLEAN WATER: Municipal or well water should be filtered before it comes inside, and we should include filtration, purification and remineralization if needed. Most US waters are full of run-off chemicals, VOCs, lead, chlorine, fluoride, agricultural, industrial waste and pesticides, etc.
Most municipalities in the US, required by the EPA, provides us, at least once a year, a Water Quality Assurance Report, to all its subscribers. This report measures and controls the accuracy and precision for all water departments. This report should monitor documentation processes, data management and analysis, validity of sampling procedures, etc.