Monthly Archives: August 2023

Indoor Mold Summary White Paper

Indoor Mold Summary White Paper

What is indoor Mold and how does it affect us? 

Overgrowth of mold in the home can produce high levels of mycotoxins and microbial volatile organic compounds (mVOCs), causing illness.  

While there is much more for the scientific community to explore, thankfully there is a growing focus on mold in our environment with a significant amount of new research being conducted on these topics.  

What are mold, mycotoxins and mVOCs?

Mold includes various types of fungus that grow on damp or decaying organic matter.  Mold can grow outdoors or indoors; it only needs moisture and a carbon source. 1  Outdoors, moisture from the ground and decaying leaves or wood provide the perfect habitat for mold.  Indoors, moisture from the air (excess humidity) or from a leaking pipe or roof will saturate a substrate such as wood, cardboard or even dust, and provide the moisture and carbon food for mold to grow. It produces particulate pollution (physical spores that replicate and spread) as well as various chemical byproducts. 

Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites, which are organic compounds that are produced by various organisms that are not directly involved in the growth, development, or reproduction of the organism but are essential in the ecological and other activities (contrasted with primary metabolites, which are directly involved with these activities).2  These are chemicals that are specifically toxic to humans, which scientists believe the mold produces to cause plant disease, defend the mold from other microbes, or simply when the mold is stressed. 

Mold can cause two broad types of disease, mycoses and mycotoxicoses.

(1) Human mycoses3:

  • Are caused by growth of the fungi on or in our bodies, which can be treated with antifungals.  (Mycotoxins produced while the mold is in the body cause a secondary reaction).

  • are mainly caused by opportunistic fungi, which produce illness by taking advantage of debilitated or immunocompromised hosts 

  • are frequently acquired via inhalation of mold spores from an environmental reservoir or by unusual growth of a commensal species that is normally resident on human skin or the gastrointestinal tract

  • portal of entry can be through the pulmonary tract or direct contact with the skin

  • are largely diseases of the developed world, usually occurring in patients whose immune systems have been compromised by advanced medical treatment.

(2) In contrast, mycotoxicoses: 

  • Are caused by dietary, respiratory, dermal, and other exposures to the mycotoxins, causing “poisoning by natural means” similar to the pathologies caused by exposure to pesticides or heavy metal residues.3

  • Can be successfully treated by regimens of mycotoxin antigens, sauna, oxygen therapy, and nutrient..4

  • Are common in underdeveloped nations due lack of resources to harvest and store foods properly.3 However, it is hypothesized that mycotoxicoses in the Western World are mainly due to inhalation of mycotoxins from mold growing in indoor environments (our inference from mold experts). 

As a company focused mainly on air quality, HypoAir has focused on mycotoxins that cause illness due to inhalation (which are mainly mycotoxicoses), as a result of mold growing indoors and releasing conidia (entire spores or fragments of mold or its spores) that contain mycotoxins.  In samples collected from water-damaged indoor environments in Sweden in 20075, here are the main mycotoxins found:

  • Trichodermol and Verrucarol are trichothecenes. Trichothecenes are a very large family of chemically related mycotoxins produced by various species of Fusarium, Myrothecium, Trichoderma, Trichothecium, Cephalosporium, Verticimonosporium, and Stachybotrys molds. Trichothecenes inhibit protein synthesis in human and animal cells. 6,7

  • Sterigmatocystin is also generated by Aspergillus molds.  It is structurally and biologically related to aflatoxins and is regarded as a precursor of aflatoxin B1 (see below). Therefore, the acute toxicity and carcinogenic properties of this mycotoxin are similar to those presented by aflatoxins, although less potent, and Sterigmatocystin has been recognized as a group 2B carcinogen.8

  • Satratoxins G and H are produced by the black mold Stachybotrys chartarum.  Neurotoxicity and inflammation within the nose and brain are potential adverse health effects of exposure to satratoxins and Stachybotrys in the indoor air of water-damaged buildings.9

  • Gliotoxin is produced by the common indoor mold genus Aspergillus and is immunosuppressive (it can dampen the body's ability to ward off disease and infection). To do this it impairs the activation of T-cells and induces cell death in monocytes, a type of white blood cell.10

  • Aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) is one of the most potent carcinogens in foods, and it was postulated to account for the prevalence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in high exposure areas. 11

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

VOCs are gasses and can be anthropogenic (produced by human activity) or biogenic (produced by living organisms, but more specifically plants and animals).   A subclass of biogenic VOCs is microbial VOCs (mVOCs), which are gasses produced by bacteria or fungi.  Indoors, mVOCs diffuse through and sometimes accumulate in the air.  Some mVOCs are responsible for that “musty” odor that is the telltale sign of mold growth (such as geosmin and 1-octen-3-ol), but others can be odorless. Compounds with eight carbon atoms, such as 1-octen-3-ol, 3-octanol and 3-octanone are among the most common fungal VOCs, and among fifteen of the most prevalent mVOCs in water-damaged buildings (thse are 2-methyl-1-propanol, 3-methyl-1-butanol, 3-methyl-2-butanol, 2-pentanol, 3-octanol, 1-octen-3-ol, 2-octen-3-ol , 3-methylfuran, 2-hexanone, 2-heptanone, 3-octanone, 2-methylisoborneol, 2-isopropyl-3-methoxy-pyrazine, geosmin, and dimethyl disulphide).12  Although these mVOCs have not been tested for carcinogenicity, DNA damage was detected for all fifteen of the common mVOCs. 13  Low concentrations of the vapor form of several C-8 compounds including 1-octen-3-ol are toxic to larvae and adult fruit flies.  Moreover, 1-octen-3-ol (octenol for short and also called mushroom alcohol) selectively affects dopaminergic neurons in adult Drosophila (fruit fly) brain and induces Parkinson’s-like behavioral alterations in a fly model for this disease.14,15  Volatile phase 1-octen-3-ol was 80 times more toxic than the volatile phase of toluene in stem cells studies.16  Unfortunately, due to studies mostly conducted on the liquid phase of octenol, the FDA has approved it for use in foods and perfumes, and the EPA has approved it for use in insect lures. The problem with the vapor phase octenol is, like other VOCs, concentrations can build up in enclosed spaces like basements, attics, and even whole homes if they are not ventilated.

Image source: (17) 

How do mycotoxins and mVOCs overlap?

Mycotoxins are only found in solid or liquid form, while mVOCs are gaseous.  However, mycotoxins and many mVOCs are both toxic products of mold.  Therefore, overlap exists in the toxic category, but the science community doesn’t think that mVOCs should be called mycotoxins.   Why?

  1. The condition of secondary metabolites: mycotoxins are all secondary metabolites, encoded by clustered genes that are easy to detect in genomic data. Only some fungal volatiles (e.g., the terpenoids) are secondary metabolites. 18 

  2. There already are other classes of toxic metabolites made by fungi that are not called mycotoxins. Terms like “antibiotic,” (compounds toxic to bacteria), “mushroom poison” (compounds made by mushrooms) and “phytotoxin” (compounds toxic to plants, or confusingly, made by plants19) are used to label certain other categories of fungal products with toxigenic properties. 18 

  3. Since many of the VOCs that have been studied are breakdown products of fatty acids, mediated by lipoxygenases, or are made by simple biotransformation steps from amino acids, we are not certain whether the VOCs we detect in profiles from growing fungi are the direct products of fungal metabolism or are merely incidental breakdown products.18

For these reasons, one article proposes the name “volatoxin” for those mycotoxins which are volatiles.18  Whatever they are officially named, mVOCs have the potential to be harmful to humans, especially if they are allowed to accumulate in a closed space.

Mold Naturally found outside vs trapped indoors

Mycotoxins and mVOCs found outside are normally diluted due to the abundant circulation of fresh air around and through them.  It is entirely different indoors.  Just as CO2 can build up from exhalation of inhabitants in a closed space, mVOCs from mold can also become concentrated in closed atmospheres, and mycotoxins become airborne whenever mold is disturbed, even from the airflow created when a window or door is opened.  

Where are these high concentrations found?  Spaces like the following are ripe for “biohazard” conditions concerning mVOCs and mycotoxins: 

  • Damp basements

  • Enclosed crawl spaces

  • Attics with leaky roofs or otherwise high ambient humidity

  • Backyard sheds

  • Non-climatized storage units

  • Vacation homes that are closed up without air conditioning or ventilation

  • Homes damaged by natural disasters or neglect, that are abandoned

  • Commercial buildings that have not been occupied or climatized in some time

The combination of lack of ventilation (for dilution) and excess humidity and darkness makes these spaces the perfect environment to grow mold and all of the toxins it emits.

How does Polar Ionization affect mycotoxins and mVOCs?

Our Polar Ionization uses Carbon Brush style Needlepoint Ionization to split the normal water vapor (H2O) in the air into millions of positive Hydrogen ions and negative Oxygen ions, without the production of ozone.  These natural ions are in proper balance and are stable enough that they can last a minute or longer as they travel in the airflows of an HVAC system or room giving them sufficient time to interact with air and surface contaminants in large buildings. Ions are any molecule or atom where the number of electrons does not equal the number of protons. These ions are very effective against a wide range of particulate, biological and chemical contaminants.  

Due to their type and stability they:

  • can provide purification for large areas with reasonable upfront costs and no ongoing replacement parts 

  • can react with both airborne and surface based contaminants opening up many new applications for safe active sanitization of occupied spaces.

  • Remove static electricity, and as such are able to travel much further than negative ions.  

  • Due to their balanced nature, they do not create unwanted ozone unlike devices that produce negative only ionization

Ability of Polar Ionization to protect against Mycotoxins and Mold Related Particulates

Mycotoxins can be transmitted through ingesting contaminated food, or they can become airborne, attached to spores of mold (conidia) or fragments of conidia.  According to a 2005 study 20, mycotoxins from Stachybotrys Chartarum (specifically trichothecene mycotoxins) were found on intact spores, which are larger (about 5 microns in diameter) as well as fragments of mold and other smaller particles (1.2 microns and below). These mycotoxins are known to react primarily with mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract and eyes, leading to irritating erythema, inflammation, and pain. 20  In an earlier study, Trichothecene mycotoxins were found on Stachybotrys atra conidia of 5 micron diameter on average, indicating that these mycotoxins are easily respirable.21

The term PM2.5 is often used to refer to particulates 2.5 microns and less in diameter. For reference, a human hair is around 50-100 microns (μm) in diameter.  The human body has many natural defenses against large particulates like these.  In general, we consider extremely small PM2.5 contaminants to be far more dangerous and difficult to remove than larger particulates. Even smaller, 0.3 microns are considered the Most Penetrating Particle Size (MPPS) due to their difficulty to capture.  A HEPA filter's efficiency rating is specifically tested at 0.3 microns (not larger or smaller particles) because it is addressing a variant of the filter's minimum efficiency. 

Polar Ionization removes particulates from the air primarily through making them group together making them larger, heavier, and often with a negative or positive charge.   Those same larger, heavier, and charged particles can not stay airborne for long and are relatively easy to trap in a mechanical filter or easily vacuumed up from the ground after they settled.   Polar Ionization can quickly remove well over 95% of airborne particulates (including spores) without any physical mechanical filtration whatsoever (HEPA).  Due to its mode of action, it can also improve the filter rating of any mechanical filter used in the same space by several levels.  The use of mechanical filtration in addition to Polar Ionization is often unnecessary, however it can improve the speed of removal of particulates especially with those with high sensitivities.  At HypoAir we are quick to recommend redundancies in air purification where the needs of the occupants require faster removal of particulates and when finances allow. 

Numerous case studies conducted by independent labs show how mold spore counts (and thus by inference, mycotoxins carried on the mold spores)  were dramatically reduced in the air of closed environments by employing HypoAir’s Polar Ionization without additional filters.22 

Ability of Polar Ionization to break down mVOCs

The Polar Ions are also effective at breaking down VOCs & odors at a molecular level, specifically gasses with electron volt potential below 11. This is by design as the power output is capped at 12.07eV in order to prevent the formation of ozone since oxygen has an electron volt potential of 12. Formaldehyde (CH2O) for example has 10.88 as its electron volt potential and can be dismantled down into harmless carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor (H2O).  Similarly Ammonia (NH3) with an electron volt potential of 10.07 is broken down into harmless nitrogen (N2) and water vapor (H2O) (nitrogen naturally makes up about 78% of earth’s atmosphere).   Due to the method of production and stability of the ions, no ozone is produced in this process and the theoretical issue of incomplete oxidation or unintended byproducts is addressed with net VOC reduction.  One example showing proof of these breakdown reactions was obtained by measurement before and after installation of a bi-polar ionization device in the HVAC system of Houston Methodist Hospital, which reduced Total VOCs (TVOCs) to acceptable levels with activation of the device after many months of poor air quality complaints and failure of carbon filters to adequately clean the polluted air intake.23

The following are electron volt potentials of some of the most common mVOCs in water-damaged buildings24:  

Common mVOCs

Electron Volt Potentials











dimethyl disulphide


Additional efficacy against more complex chemical compounds and high concentrations of odors can be found with our products that combine Polar Ionization with Activated Carbon, AHPCO and/or our TotalClean i2 spray.

Ability of Polar Ionization to Neutralize Biological Contaminants on Surfaces and in the Air

Polar Ionization has been well tested in our products and in other devices that produce the same type of ions to neutralize certain bacteria, mold, and viruses in the air and on surfaces.  Polar Ionization & Mold Spores in particular have been tested many times, including a 99.50% kill rate tested by GCA over a 24 hour period. 25 The Polar Ions are effective at disrupting these biological contaminants by breaking down their surface proteins which results in inactivation or lysis.  The efficacy of Polar ionization on viral (Feline Coronavirus, Coxsackie Virus, Polio Virus, SARS Coronavirus) and other biological threats (TB, MRSA, VRE, C. Diff) has been proven for years by a wide range of independent studies with more information, sources, and studies found on

For more info about our proprietary products and technologies, please visit


  1. Indoor Environmental Quality: What is Mold? (n.d.). Retrieved from

  2. Sapkota, A. (18 January 2022). Primary vs Secondary Metabolites- Definition, 12 Differences, Examples. Retrieved from

  3. Bennett, J. W., Klich,  M. (2003). Mycotoxins. Clinical Microbiology Reviews, 16(3), 497–516.

  4. Rea, W.J. (2018). A Large Case-series of Successful Treatment of Patients Exposed to Mold and Mycotoxin. Clinical Therapeutics, 40(6), 889-893.

  5. Bloom, E., Nyman, E., Must, A., Pehrson, C., Larsson,  L. (2009).  Mycotoxins produced by molds in water-damaged indoor environments.  Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, 6(11), 671–678.

  6. Trichodermol (T3D3717). (n.d.). Retrieved from

  7. Verrucarol (T3D3723). (n.d.). Retrieved from

  8. Vieira, T., Cunha, S., Casal, S. (2015). 25.3.3 Sterigmatocystin. In V.R. Preedy (Ed.), Coffee in Health and Disease Prevention (pp. 225-233). Elsevier Inc.

  9. Islam, Z., Harkema, J.R., Pestka, J.J. (2006). Satratoxin G from the black mold Stachybotrys chartarum evokes olfactory sensory neuron loss and inflammation in the murine nose and brain. Environmental Health Perspectives, 114(7), 1099-1107.

  10. Gliotoxin. (n.d.). Retrieved from

  11. Ferk, F., Speer, K., Mišík, M., Nersesyan, A., Knasmüller, S. (2015). Chapter 66 - Protective Effects of Coffee Against Induction of DNA Damage and Cancer by Aflatoxin B1. In V.R. Preedy (Ed.), Coffee in Health and Disease Prevention (pp. 587-596). Elsevier Inc.

  12. Korpi, A., Järnberg, J., Pasanen, A-L. (2009).  Microbial volatile organic compounds.  Critical Reviews in Toxicology, 39(2), 39-193. 

  13. Kreja, L., Seidel,  H-J. (2002). Evaluation of the genotoxic potential of some microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOC) with the comet assay, the micronucleus assay and the HPRT gene mutation assay.  Mutation Research, 513(1-2), pp. 143-150.

  14. Inamdar, A.A., Masurekar, P., Bennett, J.W. (2010).  Neurotoxicity of fungal volatile organic compounds in Drosophila melanogaster. Toxicological Sciences, 117, pp. 418–426.

  15. Inamdar, A.A., Hossain, M.M., Bernstein, A.I., Miller, G.W., Richardson, J.R.,  Bennett, J.W. (2013). The fungal derived semiochemical 1-octen-3-ol disrupts dopamine packaging and causes neurodegeneration. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 110, 19561–19566.

  16. Inamdar, A.A., Moore, J.C., Cohen, R.I., Bennett, J.W. (2012).  A model to evaluate the cytotoxicity of the fungal volatile organic compound 1-octen-3-o1 in human embryonic stem cells. Mycopathologia, 173, 13–20.

  17. Morse, R., Acker, D. (22 February 2017). Indoor Air Quality And Mold Prevention Of The Building Envelope. Retrieved from

  18.  Bennett, J.W., Inamdar, A.A., (2015). Are Some Fungal Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) Mycotoxins? Toxins (Basel), 7(9), 3785–3804.

  19.  A.Graniti (1972). “The evolution of the toxic concept in plant pathology.” In: Wood R.K., Ballio A., Graniti A., editors. Phytotoxins in Plant Diseases (pp. 1–18). Academic Press.

  20. Brasel, T. L., Douglas, D. R., Wilson, S. C., Straus, D. C. (2005).  Detection of Airborne Stachybotrys chartarum Macrocyclic Trichothecene Mycotoxins on Particulates Smaller than Conidia.  Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 71(1),  114–122.

  21. Sorenson, W. G., Frazer, D.G., Jarvis, B.B., Simpson, J., Robinson,  V.A. (1987). Trichothecene Mycotoxins in Aerosolized Conidia of Stachybotrys atra. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 53(6), 1370-1375.

  22. Milburn, D. Case Studies, Mold Focus_Part 1. (n.d.) Retrieved from

  23. Schurk, D. Houston Methodist Hospital Test Study Results Needle Point Bi-Polar Air Ionization for VOC Remediation. (n.d.). Retrieved from

  24. Electron Volt (eV) Potential Chart for Industrial Gases: UNDERSTANDING eV POTENTIAL PAPER. (n.d.). Retrieved from

  25. Waddell, C. GPS Reports on Pathogen Testing,(n.d.) Retrieved from

Photo by Josh Eckstein on Unsplash

Wash your hands AND your wristband!

Wash your hands AND your wristband!

Their popularity never seems to diminish, and where there’s one, there’s usually a stack of them: wristbands.  Silicone is a popular material choice because it is flexible, durable, can be colorful, shaped into wide or small bands, and even hold useful appliances like smart watches and gym passes.  However, depending on the material and the wearer, wristbands can carry harmful germs that don’t get as much attention as they should. 

According to a study by Florida Atlantic University's Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, there is a correlation between the material (plastic, rubber, cloth, leather and metal (gold and silver)) and the prevalence of bacteria.  Plastic and rubber had the highest incidence of bacteria because they tend to hold moisture between it and the wearer’s skin, and foster microbial growth unless some sort of antibacterial coating is incorporated.  Not surprisingly, gold and silver had virtually no bacteria (these are age-old non-toxic anti-microbial materials due to the ions they release).  

The other variable was the activity (hygiene) of the subject at sampling time. (no significant differences between males and females were detected in the occurrence or distribution of the bacteria groups).   This means that more activity (exercise) and specifically going to the gym, increased bacteria counts.  Here are the types of bacteria monitored:

  • Staphylococcus and Pseudomonas, which are common skin residents.  The highest staphylococcal counts were found on wristbands from gym-goers.  Besides the skin, Staphylococcus aureus is a type of bacteria found in the nose, armpit, groin and other areas, and causes a wide variety of diseases. Pseudomonas spp. can cause infections in blood, lungs (pneumonia) or other parts of the body following surgery. 

  • Intestinal organisms of the genera Escherichia, specifically E. coli: these are prevalent in the bathroom and can land anywhere on you after you flush a toilet (don’t fear, we show you how to protect against this here).  However, raw foods in the kitchen are another source for these bacteria.

Thankfully, the study also investigated what types of cleaners were the most effective at reducing bacteria: 

  • Lysol™ Disinfectant Spray and 70 percent ethanol were highly effective regardless of the wristband material with 99.99 percent kill rate within 30 seconds.  While Lysol has been trusted for disinfection for many years, it’s not non-toxic: most of the spray can formulations earned an “F” rating on the Environmental Working Group’s website.  Instead, try hypochlorous acid, like this Force of Nature Starter Kit.  For more about hypochlorous acid, check out our post here

  • Apple cider vinegar, a common “DIY” cleaning ingredient, was not as potent and required a full two-minute exposure to reduce bacterial counts.

Although they weren’t tested in the study, we do have some simple alternatives to help you wear your wristbands with less germs:

  • If it’s flexible enough, turn your wristband inside-out once in a while during the day to expose the underside to light and air.  The UV rays in sunlight, as well as the ions in fresh air, kill germs!

  • Although many wristbands can be worn 24/7, it’s a good idea to take them off after showering to let your skin and the underside of the band dry out.  Leaving them off overnight is even better.

  • Hand sanitizers:  Sanitizers are super convenient when soap and water is not available, so whenever using it on your hands, spread some around the wristband and your wrists. The same goes for washing your hands–just make sure to rinse off the soap.

If you decide to upgrade your rubber silicone wristband, think gold or silver.   In this case, you will get what you pay for–less germs!

The Consequences of Flushing the Toilet with the Lid Open

The Consequences of Flushing the Toilet with the Lid Open

Spoiler alert: the consequences are not pretty.  This calming (Australian?) voice and wonderful orchestral soundtrack in this December 2022 video belie the serious and gross subject: how much germs and fecal matter shoot out of a toilet when you flush it.  The University of Colorado Boulder researchers who produced the video found that airborne particles ejected from the toilet traveled at speeds of up to 6.6 feet per second (that’s a very fast walk at 4.5 miles per hour) and reached 4.9 feet above the toilet and smaller particles measuring less than 5 microns hung in the air for more than a minute. 

It’s not a new subject (the subject was first revealed in a 1975 study, and another 2013 study warned about the toilet plume) but the video using UV light brings it to the forefront of our minds and hopefully, engages us in healthier bathroom habits such as closing the lid and sanitizing surfaces more frequently in our own private bathrooms. 

So what should we do?

Ever since Febreeze informed us that odor can be caused by bacteria, bathroom odors are particularly noxious, as we know that the substances that cause it definitely have dangerous bacteria.   There are different ways of removing/preventing bathroom odor (and thus bacteria).  In light of the knowledge of toilet plumes, toilet sprays like PooPourri, although emitting a pleasant odor, seem to be one of the least effective because while spraying on the bowl creates a scented vapor, it does not prevent the emission of bacteria and particulates into the atmosphere.  Other products on the market that have been invented to remove toilet odors at the source, using hardware to pull vapors from the bowl area.  These include:

  • Potty Sniffer Toilet Odor Ventilation System ($271 and up): fan directs air from bowl into a nearby vent.  This is the preferred place to direct these gasses.  However, installation is a bit more complicated as connecting to a vent may require to drill into drywall or cabinets, which needs work to conceal. 
  • JonEvac  Toilet Seat Ventilation System ($300): Replaces your toilet seat with a special seat that has ventilation channels on the underside.  Fan needs to be plugged into a regular wall outlet and activated carbon filter ($80) needs to be replaced every 1-2 years.
  • Splashblocker was invented primarily for hospital settings.  It is a portable “shield” to protect healthcare workers from disease and hazardous drugs (like chemotherapy) that are excreted in patients’ waste, which are aerosolized whenever the toilet is flushed. Previous to this invention, caregivers often placed plastic-backed absorbent pads (such as are used in keeping beds dry from incontinence) over the toilet before flushing, but the cost of these adds up and can easily be sucked down the toilet, creating big plumbing issues.
  • According to this 2020 study, a redesigned toilet seat that can spray a “liquid curtain” of water or sanitizing solution over the bowl when you flush can effectively impede upward movement of particulates, and only 1% of (bacteria/virus-laden) aerosols enter the air above the toilet seat.

The forceful flushing of vacuum-assisted flush toilets, which are commonly used in public restrooms (and all airplanes), actually do a great job of eliminating the toilet plume.  This video uses blacklight just like the study at the beginning of the article, and the difference between regular toilets and this vacuum system seem to be huge.  There were no particles coming out of the vacuum-assisted toilet, but many coming out of the regular flush toilet.  Vacuum-assist toilets still use water to help flush, but nowhere near the amount of regular gravity systems.   This fact comes from the AcornVac website (a manufacturer/supplier of vacuum toilet systems): “a 500 person commercial office building that is serviced by a single vacuum center and 1/2 gallon per flush vacuum toilets will save over 265,000 gallons per year, compared to conventional low flush toilets.”  Water savings aside, I think that the absence of a toilet plume when using a vacuum toilet is their greatest benefit, and it makes me feel a whole lot better about using the bathroom on airplanes!

What happens when the lid is lowered?

Since vacuum-assist toilets and shields are not commonly installed in residences, most people have only a lid to guard against the toilet plume.  What happens when you put the lid down and flush?  Obviously, there are particulates and germs landing on the inside of the lid.  (This is an area that gets skipped over when cleaning, I’m sure!)  The rest of the particulates exit through the spaces between the toilet, seat and lid.  Here are the good and bad results of flushing with the lid down, assessed by researchers at University College Cork:

  • Reduced the number of both visible and smaller droplets during and after flushing by 30-60%
  • increased the diameter and concentration of the bacteria in these droplets.
  • airborne microdroplets were detected for 16 minutes after flushing the toilet with the lid down, 11 minutes longer than when the toilet was flushed with the lid up. 
  • Another study concluded that lowering the lid before flushing “reduced 48% of total number concentration, 76% of total surface area concentration, and 66% of total mass concentration, respectively.”

Using the lid when flushing definitely helps, however some aerosols are still shooting out, and hanging around even longer.  What are the other things we can do to protect from THE PLUME?

  1. If you are in a public place and concerned about transmission of disease, put on an appropriate mask before going into the restroom–at least the aerosols should be filtered out of your air, and germs will not land on your nose or mouth.  As always, wash your hands thoroughly, and don’t touch your mask or face!
  2. If you’re at home, it goes without saying to clean regularly.  
    1. Use a non-toxic disinfectant on all surfaces in the bathroom.  Check out our article on the differences and methods of cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting. 
    2. Change hand towels frequently, at least twice per week.  For towels and clothing that have been exposed to toilet plume, you can add Borax to your laundry, or pre-soak with it, as it turns into hydrogen peroxide when hot water is added to it.  It’s also generally safe for colored clothes.
    3. Use a HypoAir bipolar ionizer like Germ Defender or Upgraded Air Angel Mobile to sanitize the air and surfaces in your bathroom 24/7!
    4. Leaving your toothbrush in an open place on the bathroom counter sounds icky (for obvious reasons), but stashing it away in a plastic container or drawer is not advised either.  According to a meta-study published in 2012,  toothbrushes stored in aerated conditions had a lower number of bacteria than those stored in plastic and bacterial growth on the toothbrush increased 70% in a moist, covered environment.  What should we do with our toothbrushes?  Sanitize your toothbrush regularly by soaking it in hydrogen peroxide, Listerine, or using an approved UV sanitization device (but not in the microwave). (Is your toothbrush covered in poop? Here's how to thoroughly clean it)
    5. It’s best to switch on your bathroom exhaust fan before every flush, and leave it running for at least 15-20 minutes afterwards.  If your exhaust fan does not seem to remove odor very quickly, then you know it’s not removing the “toilet plume” aerosols.  It may be under-sized, or just old and inefficient.  Because the bathroom exhaust fan is also a very important appliance to remove humidity (and thus prevent mold), check out our article on how to check its size and where it should be vented!

Sorry, I know after seeing that first video, I couldn’t “un-see” it, but I’m grateful that non-toxic cleaners and laundry methods have been invented.  We just need to somehow lower the cost of vacuum-assisted toilets, and bathrooms will get a lot cleaner!  

Ancient homebuilding 101: How did ancient people prevent mold in their homes?

Ancient homebuilding 101: How did ancient people prevent mold in their homes?

Mold is an ancient problem, the most infamous account of which is in the 14th chapter of the book of Leviticus in the Bible.   Although it’s described as a “plague of leprosy” in the King James translation (verse 34), the references to “ingrained streaks, greenish or reddish, which appear to be deep in the wall” (verse 37 in New King James translation) are hallmarks of mold.  Indeed, some scholars investigating the meaning of the Hebrew word “Tsara’at” that was translated “leprosy” have inferred from ancient skeletal evidence and modern symptoms of mold exposure that a better translation may have been “mold”.  (Mold: “Tsara’at,” Leviticus, and the History of a Confusion).  Going forward with this assumption, the prescription for mold in the ancient Hebrew home was inspection (by the priest), identification (by shutting up the house and seeing if the mold grew), remediation (empty the house of everything valuable, remove the stones and plaster, and replace them with new stones and plaster), reinspection and cleansing, and in the case of last resort, demolition (complete dismantling and removal of the house). 

Has the problem (or plague) of mold gotten worse since ancient times?  Maybe so.  After World War II, a housing boom generated the need for faster and cheaper construction and made gypsum wallboard (drywall) much more popular than plaster as a building material.  Drywall is composed of compressed gypsum between two layers of durable paper. Gypsum readily absorbs water and dries slowly, while paper supports mold growth very readily. Since mold growth can occur within 24-48 hours of a water event, according to the US EPA, this is a perfect recipe for mold growth (just add water!).

The housing boom also caused quality of construction to decrease as volume increased, allowing for water problems to happen more frequently. “Back in the days of plaster, brick and stone construction, we didn’t have mold problems like we do now. This is in part because mold doesn’t grow on those materials very easily, if at all. Drywall, on the other hand, is like a Petri dish. What’s worse is that drywall is an ideal growth medium for Stachybotrys, the black toxic mold referenced above, because of its high cellulose content. Nearly every mold will grow on drywall given the right moisture levels, but Stachybotrys has a field day with it.  The final component of the perfect storm, which has made mold into the problem we now face as a society, here and internationally, is that our buildings are built so tightly, in the name of energy efficiency. Ever since the fuel crisis in the 70’s, there has been a huge push to reduce energy usage and create a more comfortable living environment. We have walls stuffed thick with fluffy insulation. Having a small utility bill is a bragging right at cocktail parties.” (A Brief History of Mold)

We can see that there are three things we need to consider in homebuilding to prevent the dreaded “m” word: design (for natural ventilation), construction technique (to avoid water intrusion and decay) and materials.  Here are two examples of how ancient people incorporated these mold-fighting aspects into their homes, knowingly or unknowingly:  one is from Israel and the other is from Egypt.

Building techniques in first-century Israel:

According to, villagers in Israel often built homes on the bare ground.  They could dig into soft limestone to make caves for water or wine storage, but often just used what the topography offered.  “Building on sloping bedrock requires great care in setting the first course, starting from the lowest part of the foundation and working upwards step by step. The bedrock footing is flattened and slightly stepped, but does not need to be completely level. By fitting stones into the uneven footing, the force of gravity will secure the buildings onto the bedrock. Using the land as the ancients did makes a lot of sense – there is less to dig and less to build.”  (Site Excavation)  The mortar used to hold the stones together was primarily earth, chalk (calcium carbonate), leftover straw (to add strength and reduce cracking) and a small amount of hydrated lime for durability.  The chalk is excellent at absorbing excess moisture from the air (reducing humidity inside), while the lime also inhibits fungal growth (keep reading for more benefits of lime!).  (Mortars for building and plastering in antiquity)

House windows in first-century Galilee were typically placed relatively high in the wall for maximum ventilation and privacy. Ventilation, as we know, can discourage mold by allowing ions in the fresh air to reach interior surfaces. (Windows)  The same principles were used in design of the homes, which featured a central courtyard with rooms added around it; thus fresh air could flow through the rooms whenever doors were opened to the courtyard. 

Preparing the house for plastering inside requires placing “small chinkstones and mortar to fill cracks and create a flat substrate for the interior plaster. Although obscuring the beautiful view of exposed stone masonry, interior plaster was necessary for insulation and to prevent household pests from taking over.  Plasters also improve interior lighting by brightening up the colours of the walls. We discovered that mixing chalk with the earth plaster gives a bright yet warm tonality to the home. The homes of more wealthy residences and public buildings – such as our synagogue – were finished in white lime plaster and occasionally painted.” (Interior Plaster)

Building techniques in ancient Egypt:  The following facts were taken from the article Homes and Mud-Brick Construction in Ancient Egypt, which references the report by Virginia L. Emery, University of Chicago, UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology 2011,

Unfired mud brick houses were common in ancient Egypt, from the simplest abodes to the grandest of palaces.  Mud brick had several advantages over stone:

  • Brick ingredients were available virtually everywhere (sand, clay, and silt combined with chopped straw or dung as temper and binding agent)
  • Mud bricks are quicker to fabricate than quarrying stone, making them more economical in that sense
  • Mud bricks are quicker and easier to build with because they don’t require the trimming or fitting that building with hewn stone demands. 

“Mud-brick walls could be constructed directly on an unprepared ground surface, though more commonly were provided with brick foundations and wall footings laid in trenches upon a bed of sand... Occasionally, particularly along high- traffic routes, the base of the wall at ground level was protected by a footing of stone, in an effort to minimize the undercutting of the wall due to water or wind damage and traffic; stone elements also could be included in the wall proper, being most common at the quoining of building corners.”

The article Mudbricks give clues to understanding the Bible, which referenced the article Mud Bricks and the Process of Construction in the Middle Bronze Age Southern Levant, confirms that unfired mudbricks are susceptible to water damage.  Water can dissolve the bricks as well as weaken them, especially near the base of the walls. Several strategies are used to help minimize water damage. Typically, the construction techniques in the Ancient Near East involved building a stone foundation of 2-3 courses of stone upon which mudbricks were then placed to the desired height. The stone foundation does two things:  it minimizes the capillary action of water and salts seeping into the lower courses of bricks; it also helps reduce the erosive effect of water splashing from the roof back onto the bricks or from water running in the street.  Another aspect of mudbrick preservation was regular plastering and re-plastering the walls, which helped retard the effects of moisture and erosion, as well as the intrusion of plants, insects, and animals. 

How do these natural building methods defeat mold?

Mud-brick, which is also called adobe in areas of Spanish influence, can still be an economical way to build. Many people think that mud-brick invites mold and dampness into your home, however, it actually inhibits mold in several ways.  Ideal conditions for mold or rot are caused when a building material absorbs moisture and is unable to later release it, or when moisture is not absorbed but condensates on a surface. Here are the ways mud-brick and other earth building techniques inhibit mold, according to Earth Building School:

  • Creating thermal mass:  Thermal mass regulates temperature by absorbing heat when it is available, storing it and slowly releasing it when ambient temperatures drop.  Keeping temperatures higher and more constant reduces condensation and dampness, because cold air holds less moisture and so will condensate on windows and walls.Earth is one of the best thermal mass materials available, because of its slow reaction time and because it naturally regulates humidity.  It is easy to retrofit earthen building elements to your existing home: Earthen plaster over drywall, inbuilt cob furniture or mudbrick feature walls - let your imagination run free while creating a beautiful, healthy living space.
  • Clay regulates humidity: You can't beat clay when it comes to balancing indoor humidity at optimum levels of 40-60% RH. A solid wall of earth bricks can absorb up to thirty times the moisture of conventional burnt bricks and a 30mm (1-3/16”) thick surface coating of clay is more than enough for daily buffering.  
  • Naturally anti-fungal: Finally, natural finishes such as clay, lime plasters or Tadelakt (Moroccan plaster) are naturally anti-fungal.  These are good finishes in areas that are often damp, such as kitchens and bathrooms.  Lime is highly alkaline (high pH) and inhibits mold growth. It can be used to fix mold problems in old buildings (once permanent water damage has been remedied) and is a good and very hygienic choice for bathrooms - even in splash areas such as hand basins and showers.  Lime plaster is water resistant and can be applied as Tadelakt, for a totally waterproof result.  Working with lime - especially in situations where waterproofing is required - is a bit more technical, so it is advisable to get a skilled person onto the job. 

Whether the building is constructed with mud-brick or stone, these are the “bones” of the walls; plaster is placed over the brick or stone, and then the final interior and exterior finishes give them the protective “skin” that really preserve the construction from the elements.  Let’s dive into the finishes of Limewash and Tadelakt to find out why they are so good at inhibiting mold.

Limewash:  This ancient paint has so many physical benefits, and topping it off, has a soft and warming aesthetic that is causing a resurgence in its popularity.  Chemically, limewash is calcium hydroxide mixed with water.  Calcium hydroxide, also known as quicklime, is a naturally-occurring mineral that is soft and easy to mine from the ground (nature also “excavates” lime deposits with water, producing caves with fantastic formations inside).   Adding just the right amount of water causes the mixture to heat up (an exothermic reaction) that can be used immediately or left to cool down and thinned out with more water.  Here are some benefits of applying limewash in your interior or exterior finishes:

  • Limewash applied to stone and wood prevents rot and erosion while allowing the structure to “breathe” and release moisture.
  • Limewash is a natural pest repellent: the active ingredient, calcium hydroxide, discourages many types of worms, beetles and even mosquitoes from infesting the structure.
  • Lime is a farmer’s friend because it naturally deodorizes.  Lime provides free calcium ions, which react and form complexes with odorous sulfur species such as hydrogen sulfide and organic mercaptans found in animal and biological waste.  Thus, waste odors are not “covered over” with lime, but actually destroyed.  (Uses of Lime/Environmental/Animal Waste)
  • The high pH of limewash (10-13) makes it anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial when it’s wet.  When dry, the pH lowers to neutral; however certain commercial limewashes like Lime Prime by Earthpaint have proprietary resins/polymers that allow the active ingredients to rehydrate and raise the pH again, so that it continually fights mold.
  • Limewash (and the plaster beneath it) are naturally incombustible.  This property was recognized at least as far back as 1212, when the King of England decreed that buildings that survived the terrible London fire must be plastered and limewashed immediately to prevent future fires.
  • Limewash prevents rust on iron surfaces.  This makes it even easier to apply, as masking off hardware is not necessary unless for aesthetic purposes.
  • Limewash is cheap and easy to make on your own.  You’ll just need to purchase calcium oxide (also called burnt lime or quicklime) from a supplier, and be sure to wear the proper clothing and protective gear to guard against chemical burns.  There is plenty of tutorials online, and this article from a long-established UK building conservation company also describes the process.
  • Finally, if you prefer skip the DIY and use commercially prepared limewash, Earthpaint, a company that prides itself in only offering non-toxic paints and wood finishes, has a set of products that can specifically tackle damp areas and mold remediation areas: Lime Prime and Lime Seal.  These are also great on unprimed drywall in any location.

Tadelakt: Sometimes referred to as Moroccan plaster, tadelakt is a traditional plaster indigenous to the Marrakesh region of Morocco that can be used as a stylish wall covering and alternative to tiles. It can be used indoors and on exterior walls.  Tadelakt-plastered walls create a solid, waterproof surface that is seamless, has no grout lines and is resistant to mold, which are some of the reasons why this traditional plaster style has become so popular in contemporary, minimalist homes. (Tadelakt: What you Need to Know About Moroccan Plaster)

Tadelakt is applied in several coats and finished using a special technique. "The final stage of polishing is done by using a plastic trowel, Japanese trowel or a traditional Moroccan application which requires a special polishing stone," explains Ian Kozlowski, Founder of Decor Tadelakt.  It's the final stage of applying tadelakt that makes the resulting surface waterproof.  Valentin Tatanov, manager at Tadelakt London explains: "The olive oil soap that is rubbed into the surface of the product chemically reacts with the lime to form calcium stearate."

This waterproof membrane makes Tadelakt appropriate for use in shower enclosures and wet room ideas (where shower walls are not necessary and the entire room can be wetted and drained).  The seamless application means that details like benches, windowsills and shower niches are easy to create.

Tadelakt is relatively low maintenance;  it can be cleaned simply by rinsing with water because the surface resists dirt and mold. "In the shower, squeegeeing down the walls after each shower is all that is needed to maintain the tadelakt shower walls," explains Decor Tadelakt's Ian Kozlowski.  What's even better from a non-toxic standpoint, you must avoid using commercial bathroom cleaners on tadelakt, especially any containing bleach or harsh solvents, as this may destroy its waterproof quality. 

Just like a wooden countertop or cutting board needs periodic maintenance to keep it looking great, water-resistant and bacteria free, "regular recoating with soap solution ensures that the tadelakt stays in excellent condition for years to come," suggests Valentin. 

Shikkui Plaster:  The Japanese started using this type of thick plaster in the 6th century following the spread of Buddhism from the Korean peninsula.  It is made of slaked lime additives including seaweed extracts, soybean oil, natural plant fibers, and eggshells.  It is also used on interior and exterior surfaces.  According to this article, some versions of the plaster also contain plankton skeletons and special algae only found in Japan, which is hygroscopic and helps control humidity. Due to these ingredients and the plaster’s natural ability to absorb pollutants and VOC gasses, it creates healthy airflow within spaces. It is fire and earthquake resistant, has the ability to naturally control bacteria, fungi, and molds; and is naturally anti-static, which reduces dust accumulation.   This Shikkui plaster manufacturer shows the tools and techniques for applying this plaster to practically any wall surface (even wallpaper!).  It is applied quickly in two thin coats back to back, and has a highly polished finish.

For all of their benefits and non-toxicity, we shouldn't be afraid to experiment with limewash, tadelakt and even Shikkui plaster in our homes as the "new" anti-microbial coatings.  They've stood the test of time!

Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash

Breaking down Mycotoxins and mVOCs with Enzymes and Non-Toxic Cleaners

Breaking down Mycotoxins and mVOCs with Enzymes and Non-Toxic Cleaners

If you haven’t read our white paper on mold, mycotoxins and mVOCs, you should!  While discussing the meanings of these scientific terms with our team, we thought it would be even more helpful to break it down to the vernacular.  Mold is like most other living organisms that excrete waste products.  Mycotoxins are not similar to excrement, in that they are not secreted because of normal growth, development or reproduction of the mold (they are secondary, not primary metabolites).  They are chemicals secreted in offense and defense, and in stressful situations.  Thus, mycotoxins are like sweat–the toxic sweat of mold (yuck!).  They can be sent aloft into the air on mold spores (which are also released whenever the mold is stressed or physically agitated), or even smaller fragments of mold and dust, which are all easily breathed in.  

Microbial Volatile Organic Compou0nds (mVOCs) are gasses as a product of growth, development or reproduction (some are primary metabolites), and as a signal to other microbes around them (secondary metabolites).  This means that mold uses mVOCs to communicate and affect the behavior of other molds around it, even as a competitive tool to directly exert antimicrobial activity (suppressing or eliminating potential enemies). (Volatile affairs in microbial interactions)  As such, mVOCs are akin to body odor–the toxic body odor of mold, which it uses to intimidate other mold!   Although they are meant to signal other microbes, even humans can recognize the smell of some mVOCs in that musty, earthy smell that is a tell-tale sign of mold.

It has been shown that the mycotoxins can be eliminated by various physical means such as thermolysis (destruction by intense heat), radiation treatment and low-temperature plasma (bipolar ionization).  They can also be destroyed by chemical methods such as oxidation (removal of electrons), reduction (addition of electrons), hydrolysis (breakdown by reaction with water), alcoholysis (breakdown by reaction with alcohol), absorption and adsorption, and biological methods by using living things like bacteria or other molds. (Enzymes for Detoxification of Various Mycotoxins: Origins and Mechanisms of Catalytic Action)  Only two  of these methods are permitted to mitigate mycotoxins in foods, however, contamination of raw materials with chemicals and/or products of side reactions limit their use.

Alternatively, using enzymes to detoxify mycotoxins mostly avoids these problems.  First of all, what is an enzyme?   Enzymes are proteins produced by living organisms that act as catalysts in chemical reactions.  Enzymes can either build up or break down.  For our purposes, cleaning enzymes facilitate breaking down microbes and their byproducts that cause sickness, stinkiness or stains.  

Scientists have been exploring making artificial enzymes since the 1990’s, and many of these are mimicking enzymes found in nature.  Here are the most common types of natural enzymes (from Simple Science: How in the World do Enzymes Clean?):

  • Proteases break down protein-based soils including blood, urine, food, feces, wine and other beverages.
  • Lipases break down fat molecules like oils and grease.
  • Amylases break down starch molecules like eggs, sugars, sauces, ice cream, gravy.
  • Cellulases are used to soften fabric and restore color to fibers made up of cellulose material. They also remove particulate soil and reduce fabric graying and pilling.

Various enzymes can also be combined to treat the combinations of mycotoxins that are produced by some molds.  For example, cytochromes are enzymes that include a number of compounds consisting of an iron-containing molecule bonded to a protein (  Cytochromes are usually used within mammals as detoxifying agents of multiple toxic compounds, including mycotoxins.  Cytochromes in the human liver are able to convert aflatoxin B1 (a cancer-causing mycotoxin) into Aflatoxin M1, which is 10 times weaker in carcinogenic potency.  In turn, glutathione s-transferase, another enzyme in our bodies, leads to the excretion of aflatoxins from the body (2016 study).   

Since the enzyme-based approach for degrading mycotoxins in homes is new, there aren’t that many commercial products on the market.  In fact, Green Home Solutions claimed in 2022 that it was the “is the only professional remediation company that combines the ANSI/IICRC standards for mold remediation with a state of the art proprietary disinfectant/ fungicide that not only kills bacteria and molds, but continues to work by breaking down the allergenic protein structures into harmless amino acids.”  It is only available for professional use, but their product description shows that several enzymes are combined for maximum effect on the broad range of mycotoxins that may be found in a home:

  • AMYLASE is an enzyme that digests the mold’s outer membrane or cell wall. It dissolves and causes the insides to leak out.
  • LIPASE is another enzyme in our product formula which attacks and breaks down the fatty lipids inside of and in between the mold membranes.
  • PROTEASE breaks down allergenic proteins at the mold’s core or nucleus, eliminating them from the air you are breathing.

Since we revealed the real nature of mycotoxins and mVOCs (they’re like toxic sweat and body odor), we thought you might like some real solutions you can use to get rid of these toxins in your home!   Elimination of the mold colony is first and foremost, so it’s best to contact an inspector if you can’t find or handle the problem yourself.  Getting rid of the bulk of mold will remove much of the mycotoxins and mVOCs, but mycotoxins can still be present in dust (they are very hardy and indestructible by heat), and mVOCs may be present in absorbent furnishings.  Here are some products and techniques that can rid your home of the remainder of these toxins.

  • EC3 Enzyme Cleaner Concentratie is a non-toxic solution also trusted by many mold remediation companies and mold awareness sites, such as  It is an enzyme solution with citrus and essential oils that is safe for food-prep surfaces, can also be used in the laundry and many surfaces around the home, even as a degreaser. It was proven effective for mold spores and mycotoxins by a 3rd-party, CAP-accredited lab.   

  • MycotoxinKlear is recommended for all mold and mycotoxin products in use of a fogger or electrostatic sprayer.  

  • The enzyme-based approach for degrading mycotoxins in homes is not common on the commercial scale.  However, some mold remediation companies use them with great results.  The Mold Pros use SurfaceGuard, which was shown in a 2019 study analyzed by RealTime Labs to break down ochratoxin, aflatoxin and gliatoxin to undetectable levels.  Unfortunately SurfaceGuard is only available to commercial remediation companies.

  • Most MVOCs can be mitigated with activated carbon filters, because they are in a gas form and can flow through and be adsorbed by the carbon molecules.  You can try our Germ Defender with carbon filters, or purchase carbon filters for your standalone HEPA unit.  Mycotoxins, however, will not be affected by carbon filters because mycotoxins are attached to spores, fragments of spores, and dust, which are not captured by carbon filters.

If you can’t remove all of the mold, the next best thing may be encapsulation.  Encapsulation is a controversial method in that it does not physically remove the mold but surrounds it with a protective layer that does not allow it to release spores or mycotoxins into the environment anymore.  If encapsulation is done properly, though, it can be a safe method that allows homeowners to save wet drywall and wood that have not dried out completely, by sealing any mold that is present and not allowing more to grow.  As demonstrated by EarthPaints, encapsulation either needs to be applied to completely dry substrates, or with a solution that allows the substrate to completely dry over time.  Their Lime Prime paint is a non flammable mineral shield that saturates wood fiber cells and pozzolanically reacts with concrete and gypsum. Encapsulated Substrates dry out properly and in 30-60 days are ready for follow up after a flood. (  The problem with mold encapsulation is that it must completely coat surfaces in a space with a durable non-toxic product, and of course the space must be clean and dehumidified, or the mold will “break through” and continue growing as dust and moisture allow it to propagate.  For more information on whether encapsulation is right for a space in your home, this article by a building biologist is very helpful.

Once again, we also find that bi-polar ionization (used in the Germ Defender, Air Angel and Whole-Home Purifier) should be effective against mycotoxins in the home.  Because bipolar ionization sends out positive and negative ions that cause small particles to clump together and fall out of the air, this reduction in particles means a reduction in mycotoxins, since mycotoxins ride on spores and fragments of mold.  More testing is needed in residential and commercial settings to confirm this, however, our case studies using bipolar ionization to reduce mold spore counts without any additional filters, are quite extraordinary!

Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash

Getting rid of the ICK: Mold in the Shower

Getting rid of the ICK: Mold in the Shower

Mold growth in the shower seems to me like cockroaches in a house: even luxury homes sometimes have problems with each, and sometimes it takes a number of attempts to find a non-toxic solution for them!   The shower just happens to be the ideal place for mold to grow (moisture, food, air and heat are all applied daily!), so keeping the shower from looking like a petri dish can be challenging.  Let us help you with this problem!

Since we know, wittingly or unwittingly, how to grow mold, we can look at its life source requirements and see if we can eliminate one or more to get a mold-free shower.

Moisture:  You would think that taking the “wet” out of a shower is impossible.  Of course, the shower will often be wet, but the important bit is that it’s not continually wet or wet for long periods.  There are various ways to dry it out after showering; check to see if there are any that you haven’t tried! 

  • Make the surfaces hydrophobic:  Hydro-what?  Hydrophobic is the characteristic of products like Rain-X: they repel water instead of absorbing them, so that water drops roll right off.  The active ingredient in Rain-X is Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), which is rated a “1” on scale of 1-10 by the Environmental Working Group (meaning it’s of very low toxicity).  In fact, here’s a tip that has worked well for me: after thoroughly cleaning your shower as well as you can (see next section), give all the surfaces, glass and otherwise, with a coat or two of Rain-X to make the water slide right off.

  • Squeegee: This tool, normally in the hands of a window-washer, is also useful for removing water from flat surfaces in the shower.  It can work somewhat on tile if the tiles are large and flat, but it works on glass even better.

  • Drain: Obviously, the water has to have somewhere to go.  If your drain is not working well, you can enlist the help of a plumber.  While the plumber is involved, inquire whether the venting of the drain is adequate (if a vent is too distant or non-existent, the drain does not work well and can cause mold build-up).  If the slope of the shower pan leaves puddles in the floor, it might be prudent to think about replacing or remodeling the shower, because continually wet floors are not only unsanitary, they’re unsafe!

Food: Molds can dine on just about anything, and dead skin cells and even bodywash and hair shampoo are on the menu.  That’s why regular cleaning can break the mold chain even if the other “links” like moisture, air and heat are present.  Find a non-abrasive sponge or brush to avoid damage, and go to town with a non-toxic cleaner:

  • TotalClean is our odorless powerhouse cleaner that can be used on any surface

  • Earth Clean is especially good as a degreaser if you have buildup of waxy products (citrus scent)

  • Force of Nature is a method of making electrolyzed water, which is a completely safe and natural disinfectant that can be used for hand sanitizing and cleaning all areas in your home that can tolerate water!  They have a line of reusable bottles and travel-size sprays that are great for the environment.

  • Vinegar-based cleaners also work, however make sure that they are safe for your shower surface first (for example, they should never be used on travertine or marble, both of which are a type of limestone that can be damaged by acids). 

Air: Of course, you can’t eliminate air from your bathroom, and some molds are even anaerobic anyway (meaning they can survive on little to no air!).  What’s best is if you can change out the air as much as possible, sweeping away excess humidity and mold spores with it.  This is what a good bathroom exhaust fan is for: get the air moving!  Professional restoration companies do the same when they bring in big blowers: air movement speeds up the drying process because it promotes evaporation of water from all the surfaces.  Check out our article on how to check if the size and venting arrangement of your bathroom exhaust fan is optimal.  Getting members of your household to use it is another feat, however this can be automatic if you have an electrician wire the switches together so that the vent always comes on with the light.  Also, here’s another way to “condition” the air in your bathroom to avoid mold:  use a Germ Defender 24/7.   The ions created by the Germ Defender not only destroy mold and its spores in the air and on surfaces, it also sanitizes surfaces after they’ve been contaminated by the dreaded toilet plume.  

Heat:  Anyone who’s cleaned out a refrigerator knows that heat is not a pre-requisite for mold to grow!   However, it certainly makes a more hospitable environment for many molds to flourish.  Using your bathroom exhaust vent after showering  certainly helps reduce moist heat in the air.  

There are also many products worth mentioning that can keep your shower cleaner for longer.  

  • That pink slime that forms around your drains and shower corners can also populate the shower head, and it’s not good!  It’s actually caused by the bacteria Serratia marcescens, and can cause urinary and respiratory tract infections, which are especially problematic for people with immune problems. (Not So Pretty in Pink: What Is That Pink Slime in My Bathroom?)  There are other types of harmful bacteria in there as well, such as NTM (nontuberculosis mycobacteria).  Soaking your showerhead to clean it does not fully resolve the problem, because it does not dry out. If you can’t seem to get rid of it from the shower spray head, swap it out with one of these:

    • Shower Clear Shower Heads ($299-319) are made of brass (a naturally anti-microbial material) and are made to open fully to dry out between uses. 

    • This showerhead by Niagara ($28) features a removable faceplate that will also allow the showerhead to dry between uses.

    • AquaDance Antimicrobial has antimicrobial rubber tips that also prevent minerals from clogging the spray jets.  (It uses the material Microban, which does contain quaternary ammonium compounds or “quats”, however).  

  • Thankfully, there are several good changes happening in the shower curtain market.  For one, PVC shower curtains are being phased out and replaced with PEVA or EVA.  Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC for short, is that plastic with the strong smell that emits toxic VOCs which can disrupt hormones, liver and kidneys, and your nervous system.  EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) is a safer alternative to PVC, but some EVA contains formamide.  Formamide is used to make the foam soft, but it’s considered to be carcinogenic and a developmental toxin that can be absorbed through the skin. If you’re considering purchasing one of these doors made from EVA, it’s best to contact the manufacturer to ask if their product contains formamide. (  

    • Sustainable Jungle also gives many organic and sustainable options to plastic shower curtains!  

    • Check out how I used TotalClean, our non-toxic all purpose cleaner, to clean the pink stains off the hem of my shower curtain.

  • And finally, what about your washcloth?  Experts say it’s a good idea to use a new one everyday, or at least several times a week.  Since it’s usually hanging in the moist shower, washcloths and scrubbies take a long time to dry, allowing microbes to grow and establish in the fibers.   

Since bathrooms are among everyone’s least favorite rooms to clean, and showers and toilets certainly also near the bottom, I’m liking the concept of wetrooms more and more.  Wetrooms are waterproofed bathrooms (at least all of the floor and some distance up the walls) that can be wetted and cleaned all in one go.  If you can’t do that, at least make your cleaning tools easy to use and accessible:

  • This Turbo Handheld Sprayer by Clorox ($50) eliminates the tiring pump, pump, pump of handsprayers.  Used with non-toxic cleaners like we suggested above, this could be a game-changer!  We don’t recommend the Clorox Turbo (or Turbo Pro) however, because it uses alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chlorides, which can have asthma, respiratory, reproductive and developmental effects according to the Environmental Working Group.

  • E-Cloths Shower Cleaning Kit ($15) requires only water to have a sparkling shower.  Once you’ve cleaned it, use these two cloths on a regular basis (with no chemicals) to keep it clean.

  • The shower squeegee is a good way to remove water from the glass surfaces, but what about all the corners, curves and floor area?  If you thought about this before designing your bathroom, you might install an Airmada Air-Jet Shower Drying System.  It directs compressed air through special nozzles on the walls and ceiling of your shower, and can operate on a timer so that without your effort, water is removed from the equation and mold doesn’t have a chance to grow.  Another perk is that everyone can walk into a dry bathroom, no matter how many people have showered before you.  Now that is a great use of technology!

Photo by Curology on Unsplash

You don’t have to tell me (I can see/feel the humidity!)

You don’t have to tell me (I can see/feel the humidity!)

Although we like to measure to be sure and humidity sensors are easy, cheap ways to verify, there are signs all around us when the humidity is too high.   

Here are a few examples with the explanation why: 

  • That musty smell, of course:  Unfortunately, that smell is the telltale sign of mold, and is actually the microbial Volatile Organic Compounds (mVOCs) that molds produce.  To find out more about mVOCs, check out our detailed article

  • Doors and wooden windows that “stick” in their frames: Wood absorbs water from the air, causing it to swell, so closely-fitted wooden furniture like doors, window frames and even cabinets and drawers can “stick”.  When the interior and exterior “weather” dries out, they can work just fine again!

  • Condensation on the inside of windows:  To understand why condensation happens, it’s best to start at the concept of dew points.  You can read more about it in our article here, but the basic concept is that every temperature and pressure of air can hold a certain amount of water vapor.  Warmer air holds more water vapor than colder air.  When warm air hits a cold surface, the water vapor will condense or “drop out” of the air onto the surface–just like a glass of iced tea sweats on a warm day.  The occurrence of windows sweating on the inside will happen when warm, humid air hits a cold window frame (this happens most often with aluminum windows), and if it persists, can be a habitat for mold.

  • Salt or seasonings that clump and stick together:  This may not happen as much nowadays with the proliferation of “preservatives” used in our foods.  However back in 1911 (before air conditioning was widespread), table salt tended to cake in the container when it was rainy or muggy, because salt is hygroscopic.  This means that it has a tendency to absorb moisture, even from the air, and clump together.   Morton started to advertise using the slogan “When it rains, it pours” because they added magnesium carbonate (an anti-caking agent) to their salt, which allowed it to pour freely even in humid weather. (Today, the company uses calcium silicate.) (What’s The Weather Lore Behind The Morton Salt Slogan?)  Here’s a tip: if you are having a bit of a humid spell in your home, or even going camping, you can add a pinch of rice to the salt shaker to get it flowing.  Just like immersing a wet cell phone in a bag of rice, the rice will absorb the moisture out of the salt and allow it to flow through the holes of the shaker again.

  • Household electronics having issues--especially battery ones:  Electronics and water rarely go together, and they can get finicky when the humidity starts to creep up. Battery-operated appliances have contacts that can easily corrode.  If that happens, of course try to dry out the air, and you can use fine sandpaper on the contacts to remove corrosion.

  • Proliferation of insects and pests: Pests like fleas, ants and cockroaches love high humidity: it’s the perfect environment for them to lay eggs and develop into adults. Warm temperatures combined with high humidity is ideal for fleas, and they can rapidly multiply in these conditions. (Do Fleas Thrive in the Rain?)

  • Mildew on wooden furniture: If you have wooden furniture on a humid porch, you may have already figured out that it needs regular wipedowns and maintenance to keep it from growing “fur”!  The same thing can happen inside when it becomes too humid, because the surface of wood is very hospitable to catching dust that can feed mold.  

If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to take action before mold sets in!  The first thing we can recommend is air circulation and ventilation (outside weather permitting), which can change the indoor climate from room to room.  Air conditioners are not automatically “dehumidifiers”, so if your air conditioner does not have a dehumidification mode, you may need to add a standalone dehumidifier.  Sealing the boundaries of the home is really important to prevent intrusion of exterior humidity.  Finally, our Germ Defender, Upgraded Air Angel Mobile and Whole Home Polar Ionizer can help by sending out millions of ions to kill mold spores in the air and on surfaces. The takeaway is that after a while, you can learn to read the signs of high humidity without even glancing at an air quality monitor, and make adjustments accordingly!

5 Benefits Of Bipolar Ionization Technology In Households

5 Benefits Of Bipolar Ionization Technology In Households

Stеp into a world whеrе thе air swirls with frеshnеss and vitality, thanks to thе еxtraordinary technology of Bipolar Ionization. As this innovativе forcе takеs cеntеr stagе, it quietly improves the air quality of housеholds worldwidе, similar to how a quiet hand dryer transforms the mundane task of drying your hands. Unsееn yеt rеmarkably potеnt, Bipolar Ionization elevates indoor air quality, vanquishes lurking pathogеns, embraces energy efficiency, and seamlessly melds with thе future’s smart homеs. Are you ready to unlock thе sеcrеts behind a breath of fresh air like never bеforе, whеrе charged ions purify your surroundings and rеvive your sеnsеs? Lеt Bipolar Ionization technology reveal a world of possibilitiеs within your vеry own abodе.

1: A Brеath of Frеsh Air: Enhancing Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality plays a vital role in maintaining our health and wеll-bеing. With Bipolar Ionization technology, households can now еxpеriеncе a breath of fresh air like never bеforе.

Thе process involves thе rеlеаsе of ions (charged particles) that activеly sееk out and nеutralizе harmful pollutants, allеrgеns, and pathogеns prеsеnt in thе air.

1.1 Purifying thе Air Wе Brеathе

Thе ions еmittеd by Bipolar Ionization technology act as microscopic air purifiеrs, targеting dust particlеs, pollеn, pеt dandеr, and othеr airbornе irritants.  By effectively eliminating thеsе allergens, households crеatе a hеalthiеr living еnvironmеnt, rеducing thе risk of allergies and respiratory illnesses.

1.2 Battling Against Airbornе Pathogеns

One of thе kеy еmеrging usеs of Bipolar Ionization technology is its role in combating airbornе pathogеns. Thе ions disrupt thе molеcular structurе of virusеs and bactеria, rеndеring thеm harmlеss. As a result, this technology provides an addеd layеr of protеction against infectious diseases, making it particularly relevant during flu seasons or times of increased health concerns.

1.3 A Rеfrеshing Ambiancе

Bеyond its health benefits, Bipolar Ionization technology also contributes to a morе plеasant ambiancе. The еlimination of odors from cooking, smoking, or other household activities results in a space that fееls frеshеr and inviting. Familiеs can еnjoy a homе еnvironmеnt that not only promotes hеalth but also fostеrs a sеnsе of comfort and rеlaxation. 

2: Silеnt Guardians: Rеducing Pathogеns and Gеrms

In an agе where sanitation is paramount, Bipolar Ionization technology еmеrgеs as a silеnt guardian, diligеntly safеguarding housеholds against harmful pathogеns and gеrms.

2.1 A Powеrful Sanitization Solution

The sanitization capabilities of Bipolar Ionization technology arе formidable. Thе ions efficiently neutralize bactеria and virusеs, including those rеsponsiblе for common illnеssеs. As a result, familiеs can еnjoy a clеanеr living spacе and a rеducеd risk of еxposurе to harmful gеrms. 

2.2 Lеss Sick Days, Morе Quality Timе

As technology reduces the frequency of illnesses, housеholds experience fewer sick days and medical еxpеnsеs. Parents can rest еasy, knowing their children are less likely to fall ill frequently, allowing for morе quality timе spеnt togеthеr.

2.3 Safеguarding Vulnеrablе Mеmbеrs

For housеholds with еldеrly family mеmbеrs or individuals with compromisеd immunе systеms, Bipolar Ionization technology provides an еxtra layеr of protеction. Thе sanitizing powеr of ions еnsurеs a safer and healthier living еnvironmеnt for еvеryonе, rеgardlеss of thеir hеalth status. 

3: Eco-Friеndly Approach: Reducing Dependency on Harsh Chеmicals

Embracing a more sustainablе and еco-conscious lifestyle bеcomеs еffortlеss with Bipolar Ionization—thе technology’s natural and chemical-free approach to clеaning and sanitization promotеs еnvironmеntal rеsponsibility.

3.1 Embracing Sustainability

By eliminating thе nееd for many chemical cleaners and disinfеctants, Bipolar Ionization technology contributes to a grееnеr and clеanеr planеt. Reducing chemical usage translates to a decreased environmental impact and a commitment to preserving natural resources.

3.2 Protеcting Indoor Air Quality

Traditional cleaning products oftеn rеlеаsе volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into thе air, which compromise indoor air quality. Bipolar Ionization technology еliminatеs this concеrn, еnsuring that housеholds maintain a clеan and safе living space without the negative еffеcts of VOCs. 

3.3 A Win-Win for Health and Environmеnt

Thе еco-friеndly approach of Bipolar Ionization technology crеatеs a win-win scеnario for both your health and thе еnvironmеnt. Families can еnjoy a hеalthiеr homе еnvironmеnt whilе also contributing to a sustainablе futurе for gеnеrations to comе.

4: Enеrgy-Efficiеnt Living: Lowеring Elеctricity Consumption

Enеrgy еfficiеncy is a crucial aspect of modern living, and Bipolar Ionization technology provеs to be an unexpected champion in this arеna. Its minimal еlеctricity consumption makes it an еconomical and еnvironmеntally conscious choice for housеholds.  Check out our article on how running a Whole Home Ionizer 24/7 costs less than $10 per month!

4.1 Minimizing Enеrgy Usagе

Bipolar Ionization technology opеratеs on a low-еnеrgy modеl, rеquiring only a fraction of thе electricity consumеd by convеntional air purification and sanitization systеms. This rеducеd еnеrgy usagе translates to lower electricity bills and a morе budgеt-friеndly living. 

4.2 Contributing to Climatе Goals

With thе increasing emphasis on combating climatе changе and rеducing carbon footprints, adopting energy-efficient tеchnologiеs bеcomеs paramount. Bipolar Ionization technology aligns pеrfеctly with thеsе goals, allowing housеholds to participate in thе global effort to mitigatе еnvironmеntal impact activеly.

4.3 Eco-Friеndly Living at its Bеst

The energy efficiency of Bipolar Ionization Technology complements its eco-friendly approach.  By rеducing еlеctricity consumption and promoting sustainability, housеholds can take significant stridеs towards achiеving a grееnеr lifestyle.

5: Low Maintenance and Convenience

Just as Smart homе intеgration frees up time and attention for the homeowner in order to enjoy time with family and friends, Bipolar Ionization technology frees up time spent attending to and maintaining air quality.

5.1 No need to replace filters or parts

Unlike other air purification systems, Bipolar Ionization units do not have consumable parts like filters, which can be an expensive and time-consuming task to replace regularly. 

5.2 Cleaning is not necessary 

The generation of ions happens 24/7 and doesn’t require cleaning of the unit, unlike many other appliances!  

Bipolar Ionization technology is not just an еmеrging trеnd; it is a transformativе forcе in modern housеholds. From еnhancing indoor air quality to combating harmful pathogеns, rеducing rеliancе on harsh chemicals, lowеring еlеctricity consumption, and enabling freedom from maintenance schedules, its benefits know no bounds.

So, as you еmbark on this еnlightеning odyssеy with us, rеmеmbеr thе incredible bеnеfits that Bipolar Ionization brings to your homе:

• A brеath of frеsh air, purifying and rеvitalizing your living space.

• Silеnt guardians, protеcting your lovеd onеs from harmful pathogеns. 

• An еco-friеndly approach, rеducing your impact on thе еnvironmеnt. 

• Enеrgy еfficiеncy, making your household more sustainablе and cost-effective.

• Low maintenance systems that free up homeowners to enjoy more time at home.

Expеriеncе the joy of a home that еmbracеs innovation, hеalth, and wеll-bеing. Lеt Bipolar Ionization technology revolutionize your modеrn living as part of a futurе that prioritizеs еfficiеncy, sustainability, and thе wеll-bеing of your family.

Article written by Kristel Marquez

The Downside to Smart Thermostats (and many other smart appliances): Invisible Radiation

The Downside to Smart Thermostats (and many other smart appliances): Invisible Radiation

Saving money is still a big draw for new products today… save X dollars per month on your electric bill, X dollars per month on your phone bill, etc.  According to many reviews like this one from a prominent online tech magazine, the first “pro” of using a smart thermostat is saving up to 10% on your electric bill.  In the end, it says the pros of using a smart thermostat outweigh the cons. However, the article does not mention Electromagnetic (EMF) Radiation at all.  Is EMF a problem with smart thermostats?

If you haven’t heard of EMF or don’t really know what it is, we’ve written an article to explain that.  EMF radiation, also called dirty electricity, is a byproduct of the many digital and electrical  appliances around our homes, from the microwave oven to our cell phone chargers, and especially wi-fi and all the appliances that communicate with it.  If you’re interested in knowing what some of the highest emitting EMF (but non-smart) appliances are in your home, check out this very informative article.  Spoiler alert: for this homeowner, they were the induction stove and microwave oven.  

Some smart thermostats are made to work with smart home managers.  The problem with smart home managers such as Google Nest is that they are always “on”, monitoring sounds and words so that they can pick up on keywords and execute commands quickly.  This analyzation of words often happens on the cloud because the Nest device isn’t powerful enough to do it locally.  Therefore there is constant upstream and downstream of information from the Google servers. This creates a huge radiation field of exposure, even when it is not actively executing commands. (Do Google Nest Devices Emit EMF Radiation), which proclaims to be “the voice of IT leadership”, includes smart thermostats in a list of appliances that it might not be smart to live with!  In their article “Smart devices may be hazardous to your health”, they write, “Experts are already begging to warn us about the push towards adoption of smart devices at home and at work. WHO has expressed the need for caution siting corroborating evidence of possible radiation induced cancer. Working in smart buildings containing smart devices controlling HVAC, smart thermostats, smart locks, smart cameras, smart computers, smart printers, smart appliances, smart robots, smart, smart, smart may not be smart at all. “

Barrie Trower, physicist and Royal Navy microwave weapons expert on EMF radiation, is very adamant about keeping babies and children away from wi-fi.  In this video, beginning at 3:50, he describes how his physician asked him to investigate whether microwave radiation can cause “cot deaths” (infant deaths).  (Yes, it can.)  He goes on to state that “anyone who puts wi-fi into a school should be locked up for the rest of their life…they’re not fit to walk on the surface of this planet.  Because they haven’t looked at the research, and whatever incentives they have, it is not worth the genetic problems that parents are going to face with their children at birth…You are condemning the families and the children to a life of absolute hell.”  He’s referring to the damage that wi-fi causes to children and their future children because of radiation through damage of DNA in the eggs in young girls’ ovaries.  When an expert in technology that has been used as weapons (he cites several examples of low-frequency attacks on people) uses such strong language, it’s wise to pay attention!

Dave Asprey, who is the father of “biohacking”, a bestselling author and creator of Bulletproof Diet and Bulletproof Coffee, hit the nail on the head when he describes the information about EMFs today being in one of two camps: 

  1. EMFs are harmful and will give you cancer; or
  2. EMFs are totally harmless and those hippies are just trying to scare you

Dave’s in camp #1 by the way, and after describing what EMF radiation can do to your body, puts it bluntly:  Best case scenario (but still bad), your cells are under stress and you’re tired all the time. Worst case scenario, your cells’ DNA get damaged and things go haywire. We’re talking genetic mutations and cancer.  Dave’s advice for using smart thermostats?  If you already have one, “switch to a programmable version that won’t affect your quality of life in the least. Really, you’ll get used to it.”

Here’s Camp 2’s reasoning: according to the Radiation Safety Institute of Canada, which is in agreement with the World Health Organization (WHO), “approximately 25,000 articles have been published over the past 30 years…Based on a recent in-depth review of the scientific literature, the WHO concluded that current evidence does not confirm the existence of any health consequences from exposure to low level electromagnetic fields.”  According to Health Canada, “Research has shown that EMFs from electrical devices and power lines can cause weak electric currents to flow through the human body. However, these currents are much smaller than those produced naturally by your brain, nerves and heart, and are not associated with any known health risks.”

Unfortunately, the “weak electric currents” induced by EMFs are exactly the mechanism that scientists have discovered to cause DNA damage.  Electromagnetic field can activate  voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs) in the plasma membrane of cells, which cause large amounts of intracellular calcium (Ca2+) are produced. This excess calcium within the cells produces a chain of chemical reactions leading to the production of free radicals and oxidative stress. The free radicals then culminate in DNA damage.  (Electromagnetic fields act via activation of voltage-gated calcium channels to produce beneficial or adverse effects)  This effect was discovered in 2013, and in 2016, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) published an article affirming that long-term exposures to magnetic fields can lead to both useful applications in treating diseases and to undesired health effects, including changing the growth rate of cells and increased levels of reactive oxygen species and radicals, which have an association with aging, cancers, and Alzheimer’s.  The problem is that these effects are very dependent on frequency, amplitude and time.  The study of EMF radiation is a complex intersection of physics and biology, and when studies find biological effects, they must then be replicated, but if just one parameter is changed slightly, the biological effect can be lost.  In addition, funding is not always available to repeat the studies to verify their results.  Jeromy Johnson, an independent researcher who has had personal health consequences from EMFs, has written an excellent article on this quandary.  He recognizes that there is yet one more reason for industry, government and world agencies to neglect scientific evidence: it may contradict their agenda.   Here are some examples from his paper: 

Aside from EMF radiation, we also note that smart thermostats have one more unintended negative consequence: a 2022 study shows that “despite lowering overall energy consumption, smart thermostat control algorithms can severely increase the winter peak heating demand through load synchronization during the early morning hours, when solar energy is unavailable.”  Although it’s only a simulated effect found by the study, that could be a big problem in this age of extreme weather and overloaded power grids.  It also contradicts the agenda of governments like Ontario to incentivize use of smart thermostats (previous paragraph).   

Where regulatory agencies impose EMF “exposure limits” by time average, this is also a problem, because time-weighted averages are not relevant to the possibility of DNA damage by high-power peaks and spikes.  According to Mr. Pall, who authored the breakthrough study on voltage-gated calcium channels (above), it’s like saying a bullet is not deadly if you average its force over half an hour. 

“You go to the regulatory agency and say, ‘I’m afraid I’m gonna get shot by a high-powered rifle,’” Mr. Pall said as an example, “and their response to you is, ‘Oh, you don’t need to worry about it. Because if you average the forces on your body over a six-minute period or a 30-minute period, the average intensity is dropped by a factor of 100 million or whatever, so it can’t possibly do anything.’” (Artificial vs. Natural EMFs: Why Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Cellphones Are Damaging to Cells)

Phew, that’s a lot of politics…for those who decide they want to save money in more old-fashioned ways, you can cut your home energy use by 50 percent or more without wireless.  Here are the steps from

  1. Turn off lights you’re not using.  You can put reminders near the door or switches until everyone gets into that habit.
  2. Schedule an energy audit, which are frequently done by local utility companies for free, or with a paid professional for a more comprehensive audit
  3. Make sure to run the dishwasher on the “air-dry” setting instead of “dry”, which uses a lot of electricity.
  4. Turn off or unplug electronics, as even “energy saver” options waste much more energy when it’s on all day than if you really turn it off.   When it’s off, you can verify that it’s not creating a “phantom load” by using a Kill-A-Watt monitor.  Simply plug the appliance into the Kill-A-Watt, and plug that into the wall, and you can see volts, amps and wattage while the appliance is on, off or sleeping.  Kill-A-Watt also lets you monitor your electrical usage by day, week, month, or year (leave the appliance plugged into the monitor to get a better picture).
  5. Wash clothes in cold water:  this one makes sense for mildly dirty clothes as many detergents are formulated to work well in cold water.  However, if you’re trying to get rid of dust mites or mold on certain items, hot water is better.
  6. Install a programmable thermostat that doesn’t require wifi.  “Almost half of American households already have programmable thermostats, but only one quarter of their owners actually use them—a big mistake, because they can save you a lot on heating and cooling costs. A programmable thermostat allows you to automate when your heating or cooling systems come on and off—for example, it can be programmed to come on to warm the house shortly before you get up, and to automatically shut off during the hours when you are sleeping or away at work. It will pay for itself in energy savings within a year.” (More Steps to Energy Efficiency)  Honeywell has a series of programmable thermostats that “work” with you: the most flexible one allows you to program each day of the week separately if you have an untraditional work week, or if you have a traditional workweek, the budget version programs in a 5 day-2 day fashion.
  7. Install Energy-Star rated ceiling fans in your most-used rooms.  Ceiling fans can help make your heating and cooling systems more efficient by increasing air circulation, which cools people and pets by evaporation and evens out the temperature in your space.

(We don’t recommend their suggestion to close vents in rooms you’re not using, because it stops air circulation and can promote mold.)

At HypoAir, we’re all for convenience and saving money, but only when it is non-toxic and safe for our families.  Essentially, we do recommend that you do your homework on the effects of EMF radiation before choosing to install a smart thermostat or any other “smart” device in your home, and do your best to limit your childrens’ access to cell phones, microwaves and smart appliances.  Sadly, what we don’t know can hurt us, so caution seems to be the best prescription!