Monthly Archives: February 2023

Navigating Electromagnetic Frequency (EMF) Radiation

Navigating Electromagnetic Frequency (EMF) Radiation

Convenience and technology go hand in hand.  If you want to save money at your store, the store’s “app” gives you the deals straight to your cellphone.  Smart doorbells and smart thermostats keep us safe and comfortable.  Baby monitors and cameras help us to keep an eye on the kids.  What could be better than knowing and doing more than your parents ever could?

The only problem with these perks is the energy they emit while helping you.  It’s called electromagnetic frequency radiation, or EMF for short.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  Anything that uses electricity, even a washing machine motor from the 1960’s, will have an electricmagnetic field associated with it, because that’s what electricity does.  Electrons move inside the electric supply cord, back and forth at the rate of about 60 cycles per second (60 hertz) in the US.  When the motor is energized, the electrons moving through the coils of the motor generate an electric field that spins the drum, and another motor that pumps out the water.  Electricity is right up there with indoor plumbing as something we wouldn’t want to be without!  

There is a big difference, however, between the way an old washing machine and a new cellphone use electricity and emit radiation.  The old washing machine had two modes, on and off, and it used power straight from the wall (110-120 volts alternating current, 60 hertz) with no transformers, inverters or rectifiers involved.   The cellphone, however, could never be plugged into the wall because it uses low voltage (12 volts) and “direct current” (DC).  The charger is plugged into the wall to convert high AC to low DC voltage to feed it to the sensitive electronics of the phone.  The phone, once charged, is essentially a battery with several different modes and the ability to radiate signals in a radius around it (about 30 feet for Bluetooth).  This generates two different problems with it: the way the charger manipulates electricity (taking the AC and converting it to DC and lowering the voltage) and the way both the charger and cellphone emit radiation.

“Dirty electricity” is admittedly not easy to understand.  After all, electricity is promoted to be the world’s cleanest energy, right?  We are enticed to replace everything that emits carbon with newer appliances that are “greener” for the planet with “no” emissions.   Yet, there is no such thing as free.  There are trade-offs for every convenience and savings in the pocket don’t always mean a savings to our peace of mind or health.

Since dirty electricity can’t be seen, smelled or touched, the best way to describe it is in pictures.   The photo below is of an alternating current electrical signal.  (If you don’t understand the difference between alternating and direct current, here is a really good video). The bright green line is clean power, which in alternating current is a smooth rolling sine wave (the peaks and valleys occur 60 times per minute, hence 60 hertz).  The green fuzz is dirty electricity, which is made up of jagged spikes that cause more radiation and can cause damage to equipment.  Where does the green fuzz come from?

Source: What is Dirty Electricity?

The green fuzz, or dirty power, is what is left over when you convert AC into DC or maneuver it in other ways.  Here is a video that visualizes what the little transformer/rectifiers on your cellphone charger and laptop chargers are doing to convert the power from the wall (120 volts AC) into usable power for your device (12 volts DC).  Chopping up the signal and smoothing it out causes some power “noise” and energy wastage.  Have you ever felt the transformer plug of the phone, or of your laptop computer?  Heat is another sign that there is energy being wasted.  

The green fuzz is not just ruining a nice picture of a sine wave.  The spikes and unpredictable energy can cause damage to electronics as well as to our bodies.  Dirty electricity can cause the following health issues (What is Dirty Electricity?) :

  • Headaches
  • Sleep Disturbances
  • Fatigue
  • Tinnitus
  • Cognitive Impairment
  • Heart Arrhythmia
  • Mood Swings
  • Weakening of the nervous, endocrine and immune systems
  • Increased risk of serious chronic illnesses such as cancer

Why does dirty electricity affect us?  Because we, as humans, run on electricity too.  The nervous system that regulates many functions in our bodies is electrical, and its sensitive equipment and signals can be affected by outside electromagnetic radiation.  For example, scientists have known for a while that some types of EMF radiation can actually cause bone to grow, and calcium channel blockers (which are frequently prescribed for heart arrhythmias) block EMF effects because they block electrical activity in the body. (Electromagnetic fields act via activation of voltage-gated calcium channels to produce beneficial or adverse effects)

Many health effects are only manifested when a major change occurs, like the installation of a smart meter on our home, or a newly installed cellphone tower coming online nearby, or moving into an apartment with wi-fi signals surrounding yours.  However, symptoms can also be gradual as well.  Like the effects of mold and mycotoxins, EMF radiation seems to affect those who are most sensitive to them.  When most of the population are not affected outwardly, regulation of new and more profuse radiation is not a priority.  However, quantified effects on our microbiology such as blood, organs and DNA through research should be enough to increase awareness of its dangers.

Although governments and health organizations (including the WHO) have denied that there is any risk to our health from dirty electricity, here is a short list of studies that have shown there is a cause and effect.  Since animals are even more sensitive than humans (termed “canaries”), included are a couple of real-world case studies on how EMF has affected farm animals, with detrimental effects on their behavior, output and reproduction.

The good news is that you can take control in your own home and eliminate some causes of dirty electricity.  Dimmer switches and compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) are some of the worst offenders, so try to eliminate these in your home.  Unplug computer and cellphone chargers whenever they are not in use, and when they are in use, keep them as far from you as possible.   Special paints, coverings and cases can help to shield you from harmful EMF--you can check out these types of shields here

Other sources of EMF radiation can be controlled as well: 

  • Smart meters: Smart meters are power meters that broadcast a signal similar to your cellphone, to the electric company so that they can monitor power usage remotely.  Although many utility companies claim that their meters only “broadcast” less than a minute per day, the pulses sent by the meter (typically 3 milliseconds each) can be over 10,000 times per day.  (Frequently Asked Questions about Smart Meters)  If you can, opt out of having a smart meter placed on your building and have it replaced with an analog meter.  If you cannot, there are meter cages available that can significantly block EMF radiation from the meter.  This video shows how high and frequently EMF radiation can be emitted from Smart Meters.
  • Wireless routers: Unplug wireless routers at night and place them away from bedrooms or areas where people spend extended periods of time.  
  • Baby Monitors: Research the baby monitor you use to see whether it is safe, and place it a safe distance from the crib or bed.  
  • Cellphones: Restrict cellphone use by children and for adults, opt to use headsets or  speakerphone as often as possible, carrying the phone in a purse or away from your body.  
  • Solar power inverters:  the process of converting low-voltage direct current into high voltage alternating current produces dirty electricity, which can build up over time to dangerous levels inside your home.

There are two types of devices that can detect EMF radiation: a Graham-Stetzer meter that measures dirty electricity in GS units (I’ll discuss this next), OR simply an AM radio!  AM radios can pick up low-order harmonics.  Tune it down to the lowest amplitude, about 500 kHz, to start, and turn up the volume a bit to hear the static.  Bring it near a possible EMF emitter like a cellphone or its charger plug, and listen for an increase in static or “ticks” to indicate it is emitting EMF radiation.  You can also tune the amplitude up to its highest, to about 1600 kHz, to see what’s going on there.  (This setting is better for “hearing” the EMF from your cellphone, which typically broadcasts on even higher frequencies).  This video shows how to use an AM radio inside your home to detect relative volumes of EMF radiation from different appliances (the dimmer switch really puts out a lot)!  Another video shows you how to detect whether EMF radiation is coming from the line power (from the power company), or from the devices, like lighting and electronics, in your house.  

If you find you have a lot of EMF radiation with the AM radio, then you might want to invest in a more quantitative meter that shows the real levels of radiation.  With a meter designed to detect EMF radiation, you can walk around your home to measure these levels.  The original meter, called a Graham-Stetzer Microsurge meter (after its inventors) measures EMF radiation in units of “GS”.  According to Dave Stetzer, a GS unit is a measure of the energy on electrical wires generated by high frequency transients and harmonics, and is influenced by voltage, amplitude and frequency. (presentation by Dr. Magda Havas, PhD).  According to one electrician, under 200 GS is good and acceptable, but Dr. Havas has noted that those who are more sensitive and already have health issues like diabetics and multiple sclerosis patients, require readings under 40 GS.  In order to reduce EMF, a “Stetzerizer filter” can simply be plugged into any normal electrical outlet.  This video shows how to use a Graham-Stetzer meter and Stetzerizer filters to get rid of dirty electricity.  After removing as many offending appliances as possible like dimmer switches, CFL bulbs and unused electronic charges, the filters are very easy to use–just plug them in! 

If you have unexplained or chronic health issues, it’s worth exploring and measuring EMF radiation in your home.  This type of pollution can’t be seen, smelled or heard but the health effects on many people are debilitating, and intervention can provide significant relief.  We hope you will do your own research on EMF radiation!

Fire and Smoke Recovery

Fire and Smoke Recovery

Wildfires have been very destructive in the western half of the US in the late 2010's and early 2020’s.  As for the future, a 2022 report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and GRID-Arendal projects an increase in extreme fires by 14% by 2030, 30% by the end of 2050, and 50% by 2100, due to climate change and land-use change. (  

Fire disasters, like natural disasters, do not just destroy what the fire touches.  They can disrupt major infrastructures like highways and railways, power and water, and most important, air quality.  Because fires may smolder for some time, try to prepare to deal with the effects for weeks. 

If you live in an area prone to wildfires or prevailing winds that may carry smoke, here are some ways to prepare:

  • Seal doors and windows with weatherstripping, caulk and door sweeps.  
  • Find out how to adjust your HVAC system accordingly: you’ll want to close the fresh air intake and change over to recirculation, no matter whether you have central AC, a window air conditioner or portable air conditioner.
  • Purchase extra MERV 13 or higher filters for your HVAC system, to be used on poor air quality days.
  • If you live in an apartment building or condo with little control over the HVAC, consider purchasing vent filter material so you can place them in the vents into your space. Carbon vent filter material will neutralize many VOCs as well.
  • Purchase a HEPA air cleaner (non-ozone producing type) and be sure to have an extra filter or two on hand.    
  • Keep a number of N95 respirator masks on hand.    
  • Keep canned food and bottled water on hand.
  • Stock up on essentials for cleaning smoke odor: baking soda, white vinegar, rags, TotalClean


  • Try not to cook during a wildfire emergency, because cooking indoors increases small particulates and vapors in the air, and you won’t want to turn on your stove exhaust, as that will draw polluted outdoor air into the house.  Try to use just the canned food you have on hand.
  • Monitor the filters in your HVAC system and air purifiers and change them when you start to notice a color change on the front of the filter, or when the output air starts to smell like smoke. 
  • Check your local air quality and receive updates from . Fire and smoke maps are available under the heading  You can also register for a free 14-day trial of Breezometer’s Air Quality app.  Below is a diagram to understand air quality index values (
  • Use N95 respirators to evacuate to a safer place if necessary.  



  • Don’t open windows and doors until the air quality index is less than 100.  When that happens, you can open windows fully to get more fresh air ventilation. 
  • Set up fans near doors and windows to “push” smoke odor and soot outside.

To remove smoke odor that infiltrated from outside, or if you had a fire in your home:

  • Run air purifier(s) continuously with charcoal filters. 
  • Sprinkle baking soda over carpets and rugs and leave it overnight.  Then using a vacuum with HEPA filter, vacuum out the carpets.  
  • Remove drapes, towels, and any hanging fabric exposed to smoke, and either launder it in your washing machine or send it for professional cleaning.  When washing it yourself, you can add a cup of distilled white vinegar to your regular laundry detergent to remove smoke.  Don’t machine dry the item until the odor has been removed; it may need an additional washing cycle.
  • Wipe down all hard surfaces, including walls, ceilings, floors and windows with TotalClean or a 1:1 mixture of warm water and white vinegar (TotalClean is more gentle than vinegar and can be used on stone, wood, etc.)  Dispose of rags or wash them out with mild detergent and water as you go.  

To clean fabric-upholstered items:

  • Try to remove any cushion covers that are washable.  
  • Clean bare foam cushions by using “air replacement”:  Place the cushion into a large vacuum-seal bag and sprinkle baking soda over it.  Seal the bag and use your HEPA vacuum to remove the air from inside the cushion.  Let the air back into the bag to re-inflate the cushion.   Repeat several times if necessary. 
  • Sprinkle baking soda over the piece and let it set overnight before vacuuming it off.
  • You can also move the piece outside to air it out in the sun.  
  • It’s difficult to remove smoke that’s settled into furniture, however, if it does not dissipate following using an ozone generator, you can contact a restoration company for their services if it’s a valuable piece to you.

Try an Ozone Generator to remove smoke odors:

  • Ozone generators should only be used once all surfaces that can be cleaned are thoroughly cleaned (walls, floors and ceilings too!).  
  • Ozone is not as effective in areas of high humidity, so running the air conditioner or a dehumidifier in the space to get the humidity down (60% or less) is advisable.  Central air conditioning and any exhaust fans must be shut down when using the ozone generator, though, because you’ll want the ozone to stay in the space. 
  • Use fan(s) within the space to circulate the ozone.
  • Ozone generators cannot be used in the presence of people, pets or plants, but once these are removed, they can be quite effective in removing smoke.  Follow all instructions to seal up the space and allow it to work for the full time advised before ventilating.  Contact HypoAir regarding rental of our ozone generators, or local restoration companies may rent ozone generators.    

For large areas with open walls and ceilings such as basements, garages or gutted homes, consider having them soda blasted by professionals to remove soot and smoke odor from the structure in hard-to-reach places.  Baking soda’s legendary cleaning and odor-absorption qualities can produce amazing results when combined with commercial equipment and a skilled contractor.


  • Spray deodorizers or fresheners to “cover up” the smell of smoke, because they do nothing to remove the contaminants, and many have toxic ingredients in them.
  • Attempt to live in spaces with heavy smoke damage until they are cleaned.  “Third-hand smoke” is the term used for the way carbon and chemicals in the smoke react to the materials in your home, and it can make you very ill.
  • Neglect flood remediation if the smoke damage was part of a fire in your home and fire response crews extinguished it using water.  Building materials must be removed or dried thoroughly within 48 hours in order to prevent mold growth. 

Photo by Daniel Tausis on Unsplash

Flood and Leak Preparation/Remediation Guide

Flood and Leak Preparation/ Remediation Guide

Water damage (including damage from freezing) is one of the most common and most costly types of homeowners insurance claims. Every year, about one in 50 homeowners files a water damage or freezing claim, accounting for 29% of all homeowners insurance claims, according to the Insurance Information Institute. ( With the right knowledge and preparation, we hope that you can avoid very costly damage even if you experience a flood event.  That’s the purpose of this guide and kit. 

Before: secure lawn furniture, vehicles, and windows and doors

Flash Floods can happen with no notice, but if you have time, try to do as much of the following as possible to keep water and wind out.

  • Park your vehicle in a garage above street level if possible  

  • If high winds are forecasted, install hurricane shutters or plywood over windows and glass doors if possible. Store lawn furniture and bikes in a garage and roll or move heavy decor like pots to sheltered places.

Before the storm/flood: Take photos of your property inside and out for documentation (which hopefully will not be needed!).  Move valuables like photos and jewelry to a high, safe place in the home.

Before: prepare a basic survival kit for weathering the storm at home, as many times floods cause power outages.  

  • Drinking water (one gallon per person per day for several days, for drinking and sanitation)

  • Food (at least a several-day supply of non-perishable food) 

  • Manual can opener (for food)

  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert

  • Flashlight

  • First aid kit

  • Extra batteries

  • Whistle (to signal for help)

  • Dust masks (N-95 if possible) (to help filter contaminated air)

  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape to protect furniture from water

  • Hand sanitizer

  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties (for personal sanitation)

  • Wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities)

  • Local maps

  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery

  • Various buckets for leaks

Minimum Tools for Clean-Up:

  • Utility knife with extra blades for cutting drywall

  • Pry bar and hammer

  • Heavy duty gloves

  • Heavier plastic tarp(s) for temporary repairs and drywall disposal

  • Heavy duty “contractor” bags for disposing of wet drywall, carpeting and water-damaged items

  • Flat shovel for removing debris from floor

  • Wet-dry HEPA vacuum

During the storm/flood: 

  • Don’t open windows or doors during the storm, as flying debris can cause serious injury!  Contrary to urban legends, you shouldn’t open them to “equalize pressure” during a tornado situation, either.  

  • Keep your weather radio tuned and cell phone on for local updates and take shelter in an interior room or the basement if advised against tornadoes. 

  • Occasionally tour the house and peek at attic space (if you have one) to check for leaks. Use buckets to contain water and if a steady drip of water starts to come from one area, use a utility knife to cut through the ceiling drywall to let the water run out faster and avoid blowout of the ceiling.  

  • Don’t stand in or walk through water to avoid risk of electrocution


  • Venture outside only when it’s safe to do so (the storm has passed). 

  • Alert authorities if your power is out or there are downed power lines near your property

  • Don’t drink tap water unless it’s deemed safe to do so

  • Take “after” photos inside and out

  • Be aware of displaced wildlife like snakes, alligators and the like!

  • Make repairs as you are safely able to do so.

  • If you have to leave your home for safety, write the date, your name(s), destination and phone number on a prominent wall as information for rescue teams

The Clean-Up:

When flooded by a hurricane or flash flood, the waters invading your home contain a variety of pathogens such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Shigella; Hepatitis A Virus, agents of typhoid, paratyphoid and tetanus, as well as agricultural or industrial chemicals (  This means that contents and surfaces that came in contact with floodwater from outside must be sanitized and completely dried within 48 hours or disposed of; do not let them just “dry out”.  Then after cleaning and drying, mold prevention treatment can be applied. 

Tips for salvaging household items (adapted from

Papers and clothing 

  • Move outside and spread out in sun

  • May wash clothing in washer

  • Papers and clothing soaked in contaminated water should be disposed (clothing will contaminate washing machine)

Solid wood furniture

  • Move outside to dry thoroughly

  • Remove drawers

  • Tip back to expose underside

  • Wipe down with clean rags

Area rugs

  • Can be professionally cleaned with extraction method

  • Washing them in your machine may contaminate the machine

  • Rugs with foam backings should be disposed

Wall-to-wall carpeting

  • Since it must be cleaned and thoroughly dried within 48 hours, and this is hard to do in the case of large areas of carpet, disposal is most common.

Padding under wall-to-wall carpet

  • Dispose because it is difficult to completely dry.

Upholstered furniture like couches and recliners

  • Must be cleaned and thoroughly dried within 48 hours.  

  • Move them outside if the weather is dry

  • Tip back so that the underside is exposed

  • Remove cushions and covers if possible to dry faster. 

  • Use a wet-dry shop vac to remove as much water as possible, then use fans to circulate air over them continually.

  • Thoroughly soaked furniture is unlikely to be completely cleaned and dried: disposal is recommended.

Drywall:  If any water pooled on the floor near walls, then it likely contacted the bottom of the drywall and insulation and needs immediate attention to get the walls dry.  The following is adapted from

  1. Wearing a respirator mask, safety glasses and gloves, remove baseboard with a prybar or hammer claw.

  2. Place a tarp under the area you will start to cut to catch drywall debris.

  3. Mark walls 6-12” above the high water line (use a chalkline or laser if possible) and cut using a utility knife, drywall saw or light circular saw set at ½” depth.

  4. Punch out the drywall under the cut with a hammer and remove it from the studs.

  5. Cut away insulation using a utility knife, making sure that you remove all damp insulation.

  6. Haul out debris on the tarp and repeat until all affected walls are open.  

  7. Use a wet-dry HEPA vacuum throughout the process to keep dust down

  8. Remove electrical plates to promote drying within the wall.

  9. Disinfect floors and cavities with a degreaser/cleaner and pressure washing to clean out all the bacteria from floodwater (not necessary if it was clean water) (

  10. Use drying equipment (see below) to expedite drying.

If entire ceiling areas and walls are soaked (from roof damage), remove all items you wish to salvage in the room before tearing out drywall and insulation (best done by professionals).  Unfortunately, all wood, tile, and vinyl flooring must be removed eventually because incomplete drying in-between and under the floor will cause mold to grow (also best left to professionals).  

How to use Drying Equipment: Drying out a house is actually an art.  Remediation companies use their equipment to get the right humidity, airflow, and temperature (HAT), the elements necessary for evaporation, during different stages of drying. The following advice is from the article Expediting the Drying Cycle:

  • Low relative humidity (RH) is necessary for drying, as moisture in materials and air seek equilibrium. The lower the RH of the air, the quicker the wet materials will give up their moisture to become equal with the moisture in the air.  Use any dehumidifier available from the first day, in order to get the RH as low as possible and keep it there.  It’s important to use the wet-dry HEPA vacuum as much as possible before switching on fans, as dust can plug filters on the dehumidifiers and reduce their drying capabilities. 

  • Airflow measured in feet per minute (FPM) is more important than cubic feet per minute (CFM).  Airflow speed at the beginning must be aggressive, preferably 600 FPM or more.   This is why professional blowers sit low on the floor to move air directly across flooring surfaces.  Alternate the blower between rooms if you only have one blower. 

  • Heat is needed when rates of evaporation begin to slow down, usually on the second day of drying.  At this time, if you have a room heater, turn it on and slow down fan speeds to 150 FPM.

  • Consistently low RH is the most important goal, because RH drives drying. Toward the end of the drying job, it’s possible that only one airmover is needed in each room (where the drying goal has not been met) with all available dehumidifiers running.

Wait until everything completely dries in the walls (consistently low RH can indicate this) before applying any anti-mold products.  Here are some recommended mold preventatives:

  • For a large area, consider having it soda blasted by professionals to remove remaining debris and mold from the structure in hard-to-reach places. 

  • DIY Fogging to prevent mold growth:  EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate and Fogger, $495

  • Laundry: EC3 Laundry Additive, $23

  • Use the Mold Guard and Air Angels after drying to continue elimination of mold in all areas.

  • Use TotalClean to wipe down surfaces like countertops, windows, cabinets, mirrors

Consider using an Ozone Generator to kill mold and remove odors:

  • Ozone generators should only be used once all surfaces that can be cleaned are thoroughly cleaned (walls, floors and ceilings too!).  

  • Ozone is not as effective in areas of high humidity, so running the air conditioner or a dehumidifier in the space to get the humidity down (60% or less) is advisable.  Central air conditioning and any exhaust fans must be shut down when using the ozone generator, though, because you’ll want the ozone to stay in the space. 

  • Use fan(s) within the space to circulate the ozone.

  • Ozone generators cannot be used in the presence of people, pets or plants, but once these are removed, they can be quite effective in removing smoke.  Follow all instructions to seal up the space and allow it to work for the full time advised before ventilating.  Contact HypoAir regarding rental, or local restoration companies may rent ozone generators.  

Safety concerns after the Norfolk Southern train derailment in Ohio

Safety concerns after the Norfolk Southern train derailment in Ohio

On Friday, February 3, 2023, about 50 freight cars derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. Unfortunately, the freight company Norfolk Southern did not release the full manifest of what was in the derailed cars to the public until about two weeks later.  It was first stated that only ten of these cars contained hazardous materials.  Five of those cars started leaking vinyl chloride, a gas which is used to make PVC (polyvinyl chloride), a hard plastic that composes many consumer products such as lawn chairs and water piping.  Vinyl chloride exposure increases risk of certain cancers, including liver cancer. According to the New Jersey Department of Health, some of the acute health effects of inhaling vinyl chloride are irritation of the nose, throat and lungs causing coughing, wheezing and/or shortness of breath.  It can cause headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, weakness and confusion. Higher levels can cause lightheadedness and passing out.  With chronic exposure, vinyl chloride is a carcinogen in humans. It has been shown to cause liver, brain, lung, and other types of cancer, as well as reproductive harm.


Other chemicals initially reported were:

  • Butyl acrylate, a liquid at normal atmospheric conditions, but it evaporates quickly.  It’s used to make plastics and paints.  Butyl Acrylate is listed as a “serious” health and flammability hazard by the New Jersey Department of Health.  Inhaling Butyl Acrylate can irritate the nose, throat and lungs causing coughing, wheezing and/or shortness of breath.  Exposure to Butyl Acrylate can cause headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting.
  • A “small amount of non-hazardous lube oil”.

According to news headlines of February 13, additional chemicals contained in the train cars include:

  • Ethylene glycol monobutyl ether (EGBE) is a colorless liquid with a mild odor, is used as a solvent for paints and enamels, as well as in cleaning products.  It’s a carcinogen and can immediately irritate the nose and throat to cause coughing, wheezing, nausea, vomiting, diahhrea, abdominal pain, headaches, dizziness, confusion and passing out (Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet).
  • Ethyhexyl acrylate is a clear colorless liquid with a pleasant odor, whose vapors are heavier than air.  It’s used in the making of paints and plastics.  It can cause severe skin and eye irritation on contact and respiratory irritation if concentrated vapors are inhaled.
  • Isobutylene is usually transported as a colorless liquid under pressure, which becomes a gas when depressurized.  It’s highly flammable and used in the production of aviation gasoline, paints and coatings, packagings and plastics.  It can cause headache, dizziness, lightheadedness and fatigue when breathed in, as well as irritating the eyes, nose and throat. (Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet)

According to a Washington Post article of February 18, other chemicals include:

  • Polyethylene, a common plastic, is considered to be of low toxicity by the Environmental Working Group.
  • Dipropylene glycol, used in some skin care products, has low toxicity. (Environmental Working Group)
  • Propylene glycol, a food additive and skin care ingredient, has moderate allergenic potential.  (Environmental Working Group)
  • Polyvinyl (PVC), a common plastic, may contain phthalates (an endocrine and reproductive toxin), and can produce dioxin and hydrogen chloride if it's burned.
  • Diethylene glycol (DEG) is a clear, colorless, practically odorless, viscous, hygroscopic liquid with a sweet taste. It’s used in a wide range of industrial products but has also been involved in a number of prominent mass poisonings spanning back to 1937. (scientific review), causing renal (kidney) failure, neurological disorders, and/or death.
  • Benzene, a major ingredient in gasoline, is used to make many other industrial products, detergents, drugs and pesticides.  It’s a known carcinogen that can cause death at high levels of inhalation (10,000-20,000 ppm), and headaches, dizziness and drowsiness with only short-term inhalation.  Inhalation over extended periods or in high concentration can cause organ damage, especially to bone marrow and blood (Virginia Department of Health).

In order to mitigate explosion risk, crews drained and ignited the vinyl chloride on Monday February 6, causing a dark plume of smoke.  Unfortunately, the smoke contains phosgene and hydrogen chloride, which are both irritants that can cause adverse effects at very low concentrations.  Here is what we know about these chemicals:

Phosgene, a product of the burning vinyl chloride, can occasionally poison workers in the plastics and chemical industries.  According to an academic review of 10 cases of phosgene exposure, “Phosgene inhalation may cause initially symptoms of respiratory tract irritation, patients feel fine thereafter, and then die of choking a day later because of build up of fluid in the lungs (delayed onset non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema). Phosgene exposure is associated with significant morbidity and mortality.”  The exposure limits are also very low for this chemical: 0.1 ppm (part per million) averaged over a 10-hour workshift and 0.2 ppm, not to be exceeded during any 15 minute work period, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).  (Phosgene Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet)

Hydrogen Chloride, another of the products of burning vinyl chloride, is synonymous with Muriatic Acid and Hydrochloric Acid.  It’s a colorless gas with a very pungent odor, used to make other chemicals, or used in making cleaning products.  Very corrosive, it’s an irritant to the respiratory system and can cause severe burns to the skin, eyes and lungs.  Hydrogen Chloride is corrosive to steel and has an explosive reaction to some other substances. (Hydrogen Chloride Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet)

Since vinyl chloride and some other chemicals are heavier than air at ambient temperatures, officials have been testing areas near the ground and the basements of residents, to be sure that they are safe to return to their homes.  However, until all of the chemicals are removed from the site, there is the possibility of further escape of chemical gasses and liquids into the air, ground and water.  It’s been confirmed that some chemicals reached the Ohio River, so that at least one water supply company had to make provisions to obtain a different source of water from another river.  There have been reports of dead animals in the area such as chickens, dogs, foxes, and fish. 

There is a very real concern about soil and water contamination, because the vinyl chloride was first drained from five of the cars to an excavated trench and then burned.  This was not a lined trench, so the vinyl chloride contaminated the soil, where it can permeate and move into waterways with snow and rain.   According to the EPA’s letter to Norfolk Southern, chemicals were also seen entering storm drains.  The soil of the disposal trench was not excavated for disposal following the burning; in fact the repaired train line was quickly built over part of the trench/burn site.  Because vinyl chloride is a carcinogen, there’s likely to be lasting adverse effects from the quick disposal and cover-over.  

In addition, chemicals released from burning the vinyl chloride are potentially toxic.  Among them, dioxins can cause developmental problems in children, lead to reproductive and infertility problems in adults, result in miscarriages, damage the immune system, and interfere with hormones.  Dioxins can bind to an intracellular protein known as the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR). When that happens, the AhR can alter the expression, or function, of certain genes. The resulting cellular imbalance leads to a disruption in normal cell function and ultimately adverse health effects. (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences)  Unfortunately, dioxins can persist for decades in soil and contaminate plants and animals, where they are stored in the fat reserves of the animals which graze on or contact the soil.  On Thursday, March 2, the EPA ordered Norfolk Southern to begin testing for dioxins in the area surrounding the derailment.

Many residents returning to their homes have requested air and well water testing, which is being conducted by the EPA.  Detection of these gasses and chemicals in many cases requires specialized testing equipment that has been calibrated to sense their presence, such as this meter. According to this fact sheet from the Illinois Department of Public Health, showering, bathing or cooking with water contaminated with vinyl chloride can release it into the air, where you can breathe it. Drinking contaminated water can also expose you to vinyl chloride; people can taste it starting at about 3400 parts per billion (ppb), however, the EPA recommends avoiding cooking or bathing with water that contains over 2 ppb.  The sheet advises that water can be safely filtered using carbon filters, however with the low safety level (2 ppb) and much higher sensory detection level (3400 ppb), there is no way to know if water has been safely filtered unless it’s tested.  Testing by private labs are one way to be sure that water is safe, but testing water continually, and purchasing bottled water, can come at significant cost to the homeowners.

Photo by Craig Marolf on Unsplash

Is there KDF in your water filter?

Is there KDF in your water filter?

If you’ve ever shopped for a water filtration system for your home, you’ll know that there are a lot of different systems out there!  Starting with the size, you can go from pitcher (1-2 liters) to countertop, to under-counter, to whole-home systems.  Then, there are the different methods used to remove different pollutants.  Do you want a passive system that just uses gravity, or a system that uses the water pressure to filter, and/or a system that back-flushes contaminants to “clear” the filter?

Many filtration systems use granule-type media, which can be made from activated carbon, catalytic carbon, copper and zinc particles, mixed media like gravel and resin, activated aluminum or manganese dioxide.   Copper and zinc particles are what is used in kinetic degradation fluxion (KDF) filters, and depending on the ratio and granule size, KDF media can reduce the levels of water-soluble heavy metals, chlorine, iron, and hydrogen sulfide. It also manages scale, bacteria, and algae in the water. (

Kinetic degradation fluxion describes how this type of media purifies water.  It works in a reduction/oxidation process (also known as “redox”) in which, as the water travels through the media, some molecules gain electrons (reduction) and some molecules lose electrons (oxidation).  Although this sounds counter-intuitive, reduction and oxidation refer to the oxidation states of the atoms, where gaining an electron reduces its oxidation state, and losing an electron increases its oxidation state.  The oxidation state is the total number of electrons that an atom either gains or loses in order to form a chemical bond with another atom. (  For example, as lead, hydrogen sulfide and chlorine (found in many water supplies) flow through KDF media, some of the harmful contaminants are changed into harmless components, while others are electrochemically bound to the KDF media: (

  • Soluble lead cations (positively charged ions) are reduced to insoluble lead atoms, which are electroplated onto the surface of the media (they stay in the filter and can only be removed by recycling it) . (KDF Reticulated Foam)

  • Dissolved chlorine gas is reduced to water-soluble chloride ions, which pass through with the water as harmless ions that no longer have oxidation properties.  The KDF media donates two negatively charged electrons to each molecule of chlorine to reduce it to the lower oxidation state of chloride. (What are KDF Process Media and How Do They Work?)  (You can check out an animated visual of the transformation of chlorine gas into chloride ions on the same page!)

  • Hydrogen sulfide: the copper in the KDF media loses an electron and the sulfur gains an electron, so that copper sulfide and water are formed. The copper sulfide is insoluble in water and can be backwashed off the KDF filter media.

As you can see, this type of filter works on a lot of different contaminants, and even microbes.  Copper and zinc are anti-microbial metals.  They kill bacteria by direct electrochemical contact and by the flash formation of hydroxyl radicals and hydrogen peroxide, both of which interfere with a microorganism's ability to function. (  Because other filters can be more prone to microbial growth (like activated carbon), using a KDF filter before the carbon filter prolongs the life of the carbon filter.   

KDF was invented in 1984 by American Don Heskett “accidentally”.  He used a brass ballpoint pen to stir some chemicals and discovered that it removed chlorine from water.  He worked on the formulation for several years and patented it, also forming the KDF Fluid Treatment (KDFFT) company.  Raw KDF media are produced by KDFFT and sold to many filter manufacturers, to be used alone or layered with other media in their water filtration systems.  There are 4 types of media produced: KDF 55 (55% copper and 45% zinc, removes chlorine, heavy metals and bacteria), KDF 85 (85% copper, 15% zinc, best for iron and hydrogen sulfide), KDF Fines (best for chlorine and bacteria removal when incorporated with other media) and KDF Coarse Mesh (for reduction of heavy metals and chlorines).  (KDF Products)

The benefits of KDF media are many:

  • It removes a wide range of contaminants

  • It is cost effective.  KDF media can be replaced every 9-12 months, or if the system allows and you have the means, can be backwashed and reused for over 6 years!

  • It can be recycled. 

  • It can be used in warmer water than other media (for example in showerheads or dishwasher feed water, whereas activated carbon cannot be used in warm-water applications)

  • It releases no toxins into the water, so is completely safe. (KDF doesn’t require registration by the EPA as other “pesticides” do, like silver-impregnated carbon.)

Disadvantages include:

  • Periodic backwashing is required unless you prefer to just replace and recycle the filter. Unfortunately, backwashing must be done at 30 gallons per minute, or the media will not be adequately flushed.  In places where water is expensive or scarce, this would be difficult to maintain.

  • KDF media doesn’t remove organic chemicals such as VOCs, pesticides and herbicides, organic cysts, nitrates, fluoride, viruses, arsenic, and pharmaceuticals, so you’ll have to add another type of filter if these are present.  (  It also doesn’t remove chloramines (some water suppliers disinfect with chloramines instead of chlorine, which are very difficult to remove).

Based on the benefits of safety, longevity and recyclability, KDF media can be a great asset for water purification.  It uses natural sanitization and filtration methods to make water more pure and tasty.  Whatever media your filter uses, make a habit of recycling your filters with the manufacturer: it could get you money back on your next purchase!

OH, the detergent of the atmosphere, and OH-, the ion that cleanses our homes’ air

OH, the detergent of the atmosphere, and OH-, the ion that cleanses our homes’ air

Did you know that earth’s atmosphere is self-cleaning, to an extent?  We would be A LOT worse off if it wasn’t.

OH, the hydroxyl radical, is the most important oxidizing species in the atmosphere.  In this article, we’re going to discuss how it’s formed in nature, what it does, and how it’s different from the hydroxide ion OH- that is formed in bipolar ionizers.  

You’ve probably heard that there is ozone in the earth’s atmosphere.  The majority of ozone is found in the stratosphere (about 10-25 miles above the earth), shielding us from the sun’s UV light and cosmic radiation.  This is where ozone can be destroyed by molecules that contain chlorine and bromine, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). ( About 10% of the ozone is found a bit lower, however, in the troposphere (where clouds are formed and planes fly).  In the troposphere, ozone performs a very important function by being a primary ingredient for the production of OH.  Here, UV energy from the sun (mostly in the UV-B range of 290-310nm)(Treatise on GeoChemistry, ch. Chemistry of the Hydroxyl Radical (OH) in the Troposphere), breaks down ozone (O3) into O + O2.  Then, in the presence of water vapor (there’s very little water vapor in the stratosphere, so this has to happen in the troposphere), the lone O molecule reacts with H2O to form 2 molecules of OH (hydroxyl radical).  

In chemistry, a radical, also called free radical, is a molecule that contains at least one unpaired electron.  OH is a radical which is highly reactive because of the configuration of electrons in its outermost shell.  Normally, atoms and molecules prefer to have 8 electrons in their outermost shell, making them most stable (called the Octet Rule), but they will compromise and share electrons if necessary.  OH has 7 electrons in its outer shell: 6 electrons are from the O atom and 1 electron from the H atom.  Each electron has a negative charge, but it is balanced by the same number of protons in the nuclei of the atoms, so that the total “charge” of the molecule remains neutral.  Electrons also like to be “paired”, and although each has a negative charge, they have opposing spin directions which causes them to seek to be “paired” with another electron.  The OH molecule constantly seeks one more electron to “pair” with the 7th electron in its outer shell.  OH only survives for nanoseconds after it is formed–because it can immediately steal that missing electron from most of the chemicals found in the troposphere.  This reaction of the OH with other molecules is called oxidation. 

(Oxidation: Despite the name, the presence of oxygen is not a requirement in an oxidation reaction.  The reaction is part of a transfer of electrons between two substances.  Oxidation occurs simultaneously with reduction in a type of chemical reaction called a reduction-oxidation or “redox” reaction.  The oxidized atom loses electrons, while the reduced atom gains electrons.  On earth, oxidation is usually an undesirable reaction.  Oxidation is another name for rust, corrosion, and breakdown of materials around us and in us.  Our bodies produce “anti-oxidants” to prevent breakdown of our cells. ) 

There are limitless reactions that can happen in the atmosphere, but OH reacts primarily with carbon monoxide (40%) to form carbon dioxide. Around 30% of the OH produced is removed from the atmosphere in reactions with organic compounds and 15% reacts with methane (CH4). The remaining 15% reacts with ozone (O3), hydroperoxy radicals (HO2) and hydrogen gas (H2). (Oxidation and OH Radicals)  With its supreme oxidation potential, hydroxyl radicals can react with molecules and chemicals that are otherwise extremely stubborn and resist oxidation. (

Since OH is primarily formed with energy from the sun, OH production mainly happens during daylight hours.  The following map is a snapshot of a model showing how OH is generated as sunlight illuminates a rotating earth.  (The Atmosphere: Earth’s Security Blanket)  Because OH is so short-lived, it’s really hard to detect, so the formation or degradation of other chemicals is used to determine how much OH is in the atmosphere at any one time.  For example, this model is generated from the Tropospheric Emissions Spectrometer (TES) equipment on a NASA satellite.  TES measurements of a number of other chemical elements influenced by OH, such as ozone, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, have enabled scientists to better represent OH in these models.

Did you know that humans also generate OH indoors? (Science Daily)  Indoor air can have higher (but not dangerous) levels of ozone, which reacts with certain oils on our skin. The reaction releases a host of gas phase chemicals containing double bonds that react further in the air with ozone to generate substantial levels of OH radicals.  It’s a very new discovery (2022), which was aided with extensive computer modeling.  This is important to know, because although they are great to have in the upper level of the troposphere,  we don’t want high levels of hydroxyl radicals indoors.  They can damage tissue and frequently initiate chain reactions with other radicals and VOCs, able to produce harmful chemicals like formaldehyde. 

So far we’ve talked solely about the hydroxyl radical, OH.  This chemical formula looks similar to hydroxide ions, OH-, produced by bipolar devices like the Germ Defender, Air Angel and Whole-Home Ionizer, but they are VERY different.  Even though the hydroxyl radical OH has an unpaired electron, that molecule as a whole is considered to have a neutral charge. The hydroxide ion, on the other hand, OH-, does not have any unpaired electrons, and has a negative charge by gaining an extra electron from a hydrogen atom.   OH- is made in bipolar devices when electricity is passed through water vapor in the air, splitting the water vapor into H+ and OH- ions.  A Japanese microbial study also confirms splitting of water vapor into positive (H+) and negative (O2-) ions.  H+ ions consist essentially of the hydrogen proton, which is very small; this positively charged ion does not last long in the air, as it is quickly attracted to and absorbed by larger molecules.  When the OH- ion encounters a microbe, it behaves as a hydroxyl radical, and tends to steal a hydrogen molecule from the surface of the microbe to balance out its negative charge, which damages the surface of the microbe and renders it unable to infect.  When they encounter a positively charged dust particle, OH- ions increase the total weight of the particle and cause it to drop out of the air.  They can also react with VOCs in the air.  Therefore hydroxide ions (OH-) have many of the air cleaning capabilities of hydroxyl radicals, without the harmful effects.  They are also longer-lived, lasting about a minute in the air, so they have time to permeate a room and create a sanitizing effect.  OH- ions are found naturally in larger concentrations near waterfalls, in the atmosphere after lightning, and in forests, causing the air to have that fresh, clean smell.   By releasing OH- ions indoors, bipolar ionization is all about bringing the best of the outdoors, indoors!

Photo by Daniel Olah on Unsplash

How increased oxygenation can assist recovery from inflammatory disease

How increased oxygenation can assist recovery from inflammatory disease

If you've ever traveled to a mountain resort or done any high-altitude sports, you know that the “thin air” has an effect on our bodies.  High altitude air has the same percentage of oxygen by volume as sea level air, but because the atmospheric pressure is lower in the mountains, oxygen molecules are more sparse.  This means with every breath you take, you’re getting less oxygen.  “Altitude sickness” includes problems sleeping, fatigue, headaches, and even life-threatening pulmonary edema (buildup of fluids in the lungs).   Technically the signs of altitude sickness can begin at elevations of 5000 feet above sea level.  We know that the amount of oxygen in every breath you take is very important for people with good health; and even more so for people whose health has been compromised by biotoxins or injury.

Sadly, we understand that many of our clients come to us because they are going through mold or other biotoxin illness and know first-hand how damaging the effects can be.  One such illness is called Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS), which was defined by Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker in the 1990’s.  He pioneered a treatment protocol that many doctors use today to help their patients recover from this syndrome.  Steps 8 and 9 relate to improving oxygen delivery to cells to decrease inflammation.  Although he does not prescribe respiratory methods for increasing oxygenation (it’s more through detoxification, supplements and correcting enzymes), studies have shown that supplemental oxygen can benefit CIRS patients.  

Biotoxins are extremely small, fat soluble molecules capable of going from cell to cell through membranes without being carried directly in the blood stream rendering them impossible to find in the blood stream. Biotoxins can enter through inhalation, direct contact with contaminated water, ingestion, tick bites and spider bites. These biotoxins, in genetically susceptible people whose immune system (antibodies) do not recognize and tag them, lead to chronic inflammation and long lasting chronic illness. Biotoxins bind to certain surface receptors, particularly those on white blood cells (macrophages, monocytes and dendritic cells) called antigen presenting cells. (Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) Evaluation and Treatment)

Why more oxygen?

Hypoxia (low oxygen in body tissues) can cause inflammation; for example, in persons with mountain sickness, levels of circulating proinflammatory cytokines increase, and leakage of fluid (“vascular leakage”) causes pulmonary or cerebral edema.  The reverse is also true: inflammation can cause hypoxia, such as in inflammatory bowel disease, where the entire mucosa becomes even more hypoxic.  Basically the inflammation is preventing oxygen from reaching capillaries.  Therefore inflammation and hypoxia can be interdependent. (2021 study Hypoxia and Inflammation)

In conjunction with biotoxin “detoxing” treatments, then, it’s possible that other ways of increasing oxygen could reduce inflammation.  Following are some ways proven to increase oxygenation of your cells.

  • Moderate exercise (as approved by your doctor) can be a good way to bring more oxygen to your cells and reduce inflammation.  This 2010 review shows how many studies have linked exercise with lowering of C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, which are a marker of inflammation.  This 2021 article cites benefits of exercise to sufferers of other chronic inflammatory diseases such as coronary heart patients and type 2 diabetes patients.  Although your oxygen levels may drop slightly during exercise, in the long run, exercise results in increased levels of arterial oxygen levels at rest, which will bring more oxygen to all of your cells. (Adjustments during exercise)

  • Deep-breathing techniques are helpful to everyone, not just those with chronic inflammation.  Check out our article for more information on breathing exercises that you can do without specialized equipment, and this article for devices that help improve breathing too. 

  • ELO water (a commercially available oxygen-enriched bottled drinking water ) was shown to increase arterial blood oxygen levels, improved cellular oxygenation and altered markers of mitochondrial function in rats, and was recommended as an effective adjuvant therapy even in people with longstanding diabetes already on insulin. The following charts show that this particular bottled water does indeed have higher dissolved oxygen (DO) than standard tap water, even with the bottle left open for a week.  (2021 study)

  • This 2022 study showed improvement of 75% of 49 dogs who suffered from Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SIRS) and were given HBOT sessions.  

  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has several positive effects on inflammation:

    • it may be able to stop certain types of fungus from growing in our bodies (studies). 

    • It promotes a strong immune system

    • It allows the brain to heal, improving memory and cognitive issues)

    • reduces inflammation on the cellular level by increasing anti-inflammatory cytokines and helps accelerate fibroblast activation.

  • Supplemental oxygen through a face mask or cannula and portable cannisters should only be prescribed by a doctor, because supplemental oxygen in those who are getting enough oxygen (healthy subjects) can cause airway inflammation and oxidative stress, quite the opposite of what is desired.

  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machines (CPAPs) do not increase the percentage of oxygen in the air you are breathing in; they just pressurize ambient air so that your airways stay open while you sleep.  However, if you have sleep apnea or problems getting enough air while you sleep, check with your doctor to see whether a CPAP would be helpful.

  • Another way to increase oxygenation safely is achieved with dedicated air-sealing and adding oxygen to your bedroom.  We’ve written an article on how Altitude Control Technology can increase the oxygen supply to your bedroom, so that your resting and sleeping hours are more productive in terms of healing your body. 

    • Although such systems are an investment, if you plan on staying in your home it could benefit you in the long term.

    • We’ve also laid out some alternatives in the article for increasing oxygen in your bedroom and home by increasing ventilation from outside.