My guest today is Diana Schultz, CEO of Green and Healthy Homes, and a Certified Building Biologist and Bau-Biologie Environmental Consultant in Orlando, Florida. We’ll be talking about the types of toxic exposures she is finding and measuring in living spaces and how she was able to reduce or eliminate these toxic exposures to improve indoor air quality. With a background in Urban Planning with Environmental Studies and personal experience in designing and building her own home, Diana was introduced to the International Institute for Bau-Biologie and EcologyT (Building Biology) and became Certified by the Institute in 2008. Building Biology is the study of healthy buildings and everything that affects the relationship between our bodies and our built environment. In addition to conducting client home assessments, mitigation services and educational workshops at Green and Healthy Homes, Diana serves as a Program Provider for the International Institute for Building Biology and participates in many of the Institute’s on-site 5-day Seminars as Instructor and Student Mentor. Diana is passionate about sharing the holistic message that Mother Nature is our ultimate guide – “We are dedicated to the principles of living in harmony with nature and in creating built environments that naturally support health and well being in homes and work places every day.” www.greenandhealthyhomes.net
TOXIC FREE TALK RADIO
Finding and Eliminating Toxic Exposures in Your Home
Host: Debra Lynn Dadd
Guest: Diana Schultz
Date of Broadcast: October 10, 2013
DEBRA: Hi, I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. And this is Toxic Free Talk Radio where we talk about how to thrive in a toxic world. And we do that because there are so many things that are toxic in our world, and so many things that are not toxic. And if we learn to recognize what’s toxic, and learn what isn’t toxic, then we can make wise, healthy and environmentally friendly choices by choosing the things that are better for us.
Today, we’re going to be talking about recognizing toxic chemicals in your home. It’s Thursday, October 10th, I’m here in Clearwater, Florida. The sun is shining. And I’m actually having a great day. Most of the time, I have great days. Today, I’m having an exceptionally wonderful day. And I’m very happy to be here doing this radio show, and being with you.
My guest today is Diana Schultz. She’s CEO of Green and Healthy Homes, and a certified building biologist and Bau-Biologie environmental consultant in Orlando, Florida, but she also talks to people on the phone, anywhere you happen to be if you need her services. Her website is GreenAndHealthyHomes.net.
DIANA SCHULTZ: Hi, Debra. How are you today? I guess you are doing really well.
DEBRA: I’m having a really good day. Sometimes everybody has problems in their lives, or things that need to be resolved.
And then sometimes, especially in relationships, even with your friends—I’m not even talking about marriages or businesses or things.
But sometimes, you just need to discuss things, and then you discuss things, and things are a whole lot better, and you move onto a whole new level of being friends, or caring about a person, or being in love, or whatever it happens to be.
And I just had one of those discussions this morning. And I just feel really good—feel really good.
DIANA SCHULTZ: Wonderful. I know what that’s like. We do all need to share. It’s so valuable.
DEBRA: We do. We do. And it’s just important to talk about what’s going on, so that everybody can participate in coming up with a solution. And I think that that really applies to toxic chemicals too—that if we all work together, and share what we know, then we’ll end up having a less toxic world.
So Diana, tell us first what you do just briefly because we’re going to talk about that a lot. But tell us also how you got interested in this subject.
DIANA SCHULTZ: Well, as a building biologist, this is a very wide field. It’s a holistic study, and I got involved through my own searching for healthy living. And I had done studies in environmental illness and nutrition, and I actually designed and built my own home, studied Feng Shui. And actually, it was through the Feng Shui practitioner that is a Bau-Biologie, that’s B-A-U, hyphen, B-I-O-L-O-G-I-E, Bau-Biologie came from Germany about 25 years ago.
This Feng Shui practitioner was also a Bau-Biologie, and I said to myself, “What is that?”
And I went to her website, and found through her website the Institute for Building Biology. And the terms are interchangeable.
Bau translates into building.
So I was fascinated and I immediately, the next day, called the institute and said, “Tell me more.” And I realized that all of the experience that I had in my life—my background is in urban planning with environmental studies. And I had worked as an urban planner for a number of years. All of my experience came together, and it was just amazing.
And I found out that three weeks from that day, was their bi-annual conference. And I was on a plane to Nashville, got there, did not know anything, had not taken a course, had not read a book, hadn’t done anything with the training yet. And three days later, I came home, and I was just walking around my house, analyzing every surface, every material, everything.
And I couldn’t actually talk for a couple of days. My teenagers at the time were saying, “What’s wrong, Mom?”
But I hadn’t looked back. I immediately embarked upon the training. It took me just short of a year to complete my certification program with the institute, and I started my business immediately. And I have been doing inspections. I do home assessments—I come into the home , and not only share the information and explain what’s important about the things that we’re looking at, but I have meters and equipment, and I actually measure indoor air quality, electromagnetic radiation, I look at the building structure, the mechanicals, the HVAC system, the filtration on the air conditioning.
I look at the materials that people are—their furnishings, and the products that they’re using. And I can show them some of the things that they really don’t realize could be contributing to malaise, or—some people aren’t able to sleep. They’re starting to suffer things and they’re starting to put two and two together that it could be something in the house that’s causing it.
So that’s how I got started.
DEBRA: That’s a good story. That’s very interesting. I want to mention that the International Institute for Bau-Biologie actually, for many years, was here in Clearwater, Florida, where I live.
DIANA SCHULTZ: That’s right.
DEBRA: And I met Helmut Ziehe, the architect who founded it way back in the beginning when he founded it. I think we met in California when he was in California once. And so we knew each other for years before he passed away. I think—wasn’t it last year or the year before? It was just very recently.
DIANA SCHULTZ: It was just actually in January. Dear Helmut, yes. And he fortunately was able to participate in our 25th anniversary celebration last October in Washington D.C. And not to tut my own horn, but I actually was privileged to do the interview of Helmut for the video that we found and we showed at that dinner that night. And he talked about the history of building biology and how we brought it to the United States, and how he cared so much about carrying on and encouraged us to do that, and carry on this important work, of sharing this information, and helping people to have more healthy living spaces.
DEBRA: It is important work. And I know, you and I are both consultants in the same fields, but we do things slightly differently.
You are very trained to measure in a way that I’m not. I go into the home, and I look at it from my experience, that even though I don’t use a machine, I use my senses, and I use my knowledge of what’s in the materials. But I think that it’s very important, it’s very interesting to have your home measured for toxic chemicals and for radiation.
One of the things when the Institute was still here in Clearwater, I had the privilege of having one of the classes come and do all the measurements in my house as part of their final test.
And so I had about a dozen Bau-Biologie consultants here with all their machines, and everybody took measurements and told me exactly what was going on with my electromagnetic fields, and they tested the indoor air quality.
And I actually got to see that even though I had been making my house less toxic from research and experience, I had never had it measured, and I was very happy to find that it really was not toxic. But if you are trying to figure out what is the toxic chemical, it’s a good idea to have those measurements taken because then you can—
I know many people who talk to me and say, well, my husband or my wife, or whatever, they don’t understand this. They think it’s all in my head or whatever.
When you can show somebody on a test that there’s a toxic chemical, that this amount of formaldehyde in the air, and here’s where it’s coming from, and these are the health effects associated with formaldehyde, that makes a big difference.
So what you’re doing is very scientific, and we should just mention that in addition to you being available, people can go to the website for the International Institute for Building Biology and Ecology. There’s a link on your website to that and there’s a lot more information and that if you want somebody in your local area who can do this.
I’m not trying to take business away from, Diana.
DIANA SCHULTZ: Not at all.
DEBRA: But they can find local consultants that are trained as you by going to their website.
We need to take a break, and when we come back, we’ll talk some more about toxic chemicals that are found in homes, the things that Diana is looking for when she goes to do an inspection, the kinds of things that you can talk to her about on the phone if you’d like to do a consultation with her.
You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd.
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and my guest today is Diana Schultz. She’s the CEO of Green and Healthy Homes, and that’s at GreenAndHealthyHomes.net.
Diana, tell us about the instruments that you use to measure indoor air quality and what kind of chemicals you’re finding in typical homes.
DIANA SCHULTZ: We measure volatile organic compounds, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, relative humidity, ozone, particulates in the air. That’s something that a lot of people are not aware of, the particulates. We have a laser particle counter that we can determine a total count of particles and it recycles every two seconds that are in the air, and it gives us a total count.
So when I’m in a home, I usually, before I turn the meter on, I look at the flooring. Is it solid flooring or is it carpet, or is it some combination? That gives me a big clue because carpeted areas always have more particulate levels. The synthetic carpets will act with static and attract particles, so carpets are very hard to clean, to keep clean. They just attract everything, and collect everything.
DEBRA: I agree.
DIANA SCHULTZ: And so we look at the count. Usually, I look at about between 300,000 and 600,000 particles on my meter, and I tell people what I expect, so that when it comes up—it’s news to me too, whatever is there, and then I can comment on it.
Outdoor air will probably get a million, a million and a half particles, depending upon pollen in the air. This counts everything—the particles from pollen, from dust, skin dander, dog hair, molds, viruses, bacteria, it will even pick up small pieces of ink that fly around from your ink printer, believe it or not.
These are particles that are measured down to 0.3 microns in size, so we can’t see them.
So we look at that and the TIF meter is a meter that I measure combustible gases with. So if someone has a gas appliance, a gas hot water heater, stove, et cetera. I measure around the pipes and where the gas would be coming in and out. It comes up sometimes that people actually have gas leaks, and they don’t realize it. We found them in some of our classes with the students.
That’s an interesting test.
And I can also test some volatile organic compounds with that meter. Not all of them, but it’s designed to detect acetone and methane and propane and butane and those types of things that will burn. But it also picks up toluene and other toxic volatile organic compounds with a sound register.
So it sounds like a fire alarm when it catches something. And it’s always fun to show people what their laundry soap, their liquid laundry soap is doing if it’s got volatile organic compounds that could be off-gassing.
DEBRA: Volatile organic compounds being those VOCs that everybody talks about.
Could you explain? I remember many, many years ago, when I first started, when we were talking about air filters, we would talk about gasses versus particles, and that volatile toxic chemicals were gasses. And we would say, “Well, you need to get a good filter like a carbon filter that will remove gasses.”
And we didn’t pay much attention to particles because what I was looking for was toxic chemicals.
Can you explain why it’s important to consider particles with toxic chemicals?
DIANA SCHULTZ: Sure. Particles can have a static attraction as well—things that are floating around in the air. And the smaller the particles, the longer they stay suspended in the air. And they can be sticky. And they can attract viruses and bacteria and other things, and when they’re in the air, we breathe those in.
And that’s how we can get toxic things inside our bodies. That’s the method of entry.
Also, particulates can include dust mites that live on dust. And there are more than 100,000 dust mites in a single gram of dust. If you’ve ever seen a blown-up picture of what a dust mite looks like, it looks like a crab. It’s pretty horrendous-looking.
And we have those in our dust. And they live on moisture.
So one of the preferable places that they like to live is in our beds because we expand a lot of moisture while we’re sleeping.
So we recommend that you leave your bed turned down in the morning. You don’t make your bed right away, and let it dry out before you make the bed.
And then when you wash your sheets, I’m sure most of you folks know, your listeners and you too, Debra, that you wash your sheets in the hottest water that you can, to take care of dust mites and keep that population down.
They’re allergens. So allergens are in particulates. That’s why we want to look for those.
I measured a house up in Maryland. The first thing I did was look at their air conditioning system. They were complaining of respiratory problems, and the air conditioning filter was not adequate. It was a mesh filter that you could see through. Those filters may get large particles, but these filters are designed to be washed.
Well, water molecules are much larger than 0.3 microns. They go right though that mesh and that means that all the other particles that are large can also go through.
Their filter is just not adequate. So we found that first. And then we went into the den later on in the day, and the wife was complaining about the husband’s books that had been there for years and years and years.
And I went over to the bookcase and just gently touched the bookcase. And over 4-million particles were counted on my particle scan.
It was just horrendous. And it was an easy fix because they really did want to get rid of all of that anyway, and I gave them clear directions how to do that safely with not being in the room, have whoever’s doing it have masks to filter their own breathing.
So I see these situations in people’s homes, and it’s gratifying to know that they’re happy when I leave because they’ve been empowered with the methods that they can actually take action themselves.
DEBRA: We need to take another break. You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and my guest today is Diana Schultz, CEO of Green and Healthy Homes. That’s GreenAndHealthyHomes.net. And when we come back, we’ll hear some more stories about what she is finding in your homes. We’ll be right back.
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and my guest today is Diana Schultz, CEO of Green and Healthy Homes. And we’re talking about how she goes to homes, and I’m assuming, workplaces. You also do workplaces, or is that a separate category?
DIANA SCHULTZ: I have done some commercial properties, stores and offices. Generally though, we focus on the home and particularly, the sleeping area.
DEBRA: So she goes to homes and she figures out where are the toxic chemicals, and can make recommendations about how to make your home less toxic.
So Diana, tell us about some of the things that you have found in different homes, and what you did? If you can just walk us through a story of someone you did a consultation for.
DIANA SCHULTZ: One of the things I did want to share I think that’s really important is to talk to you about ozone. I just spoke with a woman on the phone this week, and she had water damage and mold. The mediators brought in ozone machines, and it just was a terrible disaster.
People were trying to self-heal or take care of their homes, thinking that ozone is going to kill mold, which it does, and bacteria, viruses, et cetera, or odors. They’re using it to do this without understanding the scientific principles about what’s going on.
Ozone is O3, and that means it’s three atoms of oxygen on one molecule. The third atom is volatile and it likes to fly off. And that’s what does the oxidizing of organic materials, mold, et cetera. But it also will synthesize other very toxic chemicals like formaldehyde.
I had a situation where the couple had come home one night. Their air handler was hanging in their garage. The bracket had come loose, and they noticed water dripping down the back wall. They called the air conditioner company who came out, fixed the bracket, opened up the panel, and she saw black in there. And she went, “Oh, what’s that?” And he said, “Oh, that’s just dirt,” and took a sleeve and wiped it off.
Three weeks later, they had their entire home—all the duct work was infested with mold and it has spread all over the house.
So, to make a long story short, I arrived on the scene, the truck was out front, taking all of their things away. In between that event and when I got there, the mold remediator had come in and brought in ozone generators which had synthesized five times the EPA limit of ozone exposure, which was extreme.
You could smell it. It was horrible. It had deteriorated the particle board and the cabinets, the leather furniture, all of their things were deteriorating.
And this woman, I talked to had the same thing—clothes were damaged, art work was damaged, photographs just disappeared.
Ozone is not healthy for indoor air space at all. And so air purifiers, now that are out on the market, are not regulated, and people are buying these—they call them oxygen generators or ozonators or ionizers. Ionizing is part of that process, and they’re producing ozone in their homes. And it could be levels that are not healthy. So, I have measured that as well.
I just want to caution people that…
DEBRA: That’s a good warning because I hadn’t heard that. I actually know quite a bit about ozone because my father used to do a lot of research on ozone for water purification. And so I know that you’re not supposed to be breathing ozone. And that if people are using ozone to clean up toxic chemicals or mold or whatever, you’re not supposed to be in the space when that’s being used.
But it’s a very powerful thing, and I don’t particularly recommend it. People write in and ask me all the time, “Well, can I use this machine?” But I don’t think that people should use that unless they really know what they’re doing, that if you want to have that kind of treatment, you should probably have somebody who knows how to do this as a professional at it.
And something like mold, you really don’t want to mess with mold. If you have a mold problem in your house, you need to have a mold mediator come in and do the right thing. I had a mold problem. This is one of the things that I found out when I had my Bau-Biologie inspection was that they found a tremendous amount of mold in my bathroom, and it was actually going into the rest of my house. And because of that inspection, I actually had to redo my entire bathroom. I had to rip everything out down to the studs, walls, floors, everything. And we had a mold test. It went to the lab, and it came back, and it showed how much mold was in my house because of dripping pipes in the wall.
It had all molded all under the bathroom, and that was the result of taking those measurements. So that’s an important thing to do.
DIANA SCHULTZ: That is. There are definite steps to take. In Florida here, we have to have a written protocol by an independent investigator, and the mold remediation company has to be a separate company, so there’s no conflict of interest there.
And the original company comes back after that and does a clearance test to make sure that they did their job properly, and there is no more mold. It’s quite a big issue.
DEBRA: It is a big issue. So what are some chemicals that you’ve found?
DIANA SCHULTZ: You had mentioned formaldehyde. One experience that we had with one of our classes, as you know, we take our students to a home as a lab, so they can experience working with the meters and equipment, and in one of the homes that we went into, there was a huge amount of formaldehyde that was being emitted from a leather couch.
So not all leather is the same, and there are companies that can produce safe and healthy leather without using formaldehyde.
That was a very, very interesting find.
Also, I did want to talk about—this is involving indoor air. We also do electromagnetic radiation, but I know we’re focusing on toxic chemicals—
DEBRA: Well, we can talk about EMFs too because I know that lots of people who are interested in toxic chemicals are interested in EMFs, and it is a health problem. But we need to go and take a break. And so let’s get into that when we come back from the break.
You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and my guest today is Diana Schultz, CEO of Green and Health Homes. And when we come back, we will be talking about electromagnetic fields that might be causing health problems in your home. We’ll be back.
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and today, we’re talking about indoor air pollution. My guest is Diana Schultz. She’s the CEO of Green and Healthy Homes, a certified building biologist and Bau-Biologie environmental consultant. And you can go to her website at GreenAndHealthyHomes.net.
So Diana, tell us about electromagnetic fields.
DIANA SCHULTZ: We actually measure electric, magnetic, and wireless frequencies that are part of the entire electromagnetic spectrum. That is measured in terms of Hertz, which are frequencies.
Our bodies resonate between 0 and 60-Hertz. Each one of our organs has a unique frequency. So we’re electrical beings. You can take an EKG, measure brain waves. We are electrical, and we’re finding now that people are feeling health effects from all of three of these types of electromagnetic radiation.
So we have the meters to measure these types of things. One segue from toxic chemicals into EMR would be the fluorescent light bulb. It has both health hazards.
DEBRA: Yes, it does.
DIANA SCHULTZ: Fluorescent light bulbs have mercury and they also emit electromagnetic fields. In other words, there’s a pulse. There is a frequency coming out of the ballast, and the bottom part of one of the new swirly fluorescent bulbs. There’s a ballast also in the tube type fluorescent bulbs. They work the same way.
And that also includes full spectrum bulbs. They have a better quality of light, but they still have the mercury and the magnetic fields coming off of them. So we don’t recommend those.
Magnetic fields are coming from the flow of current and can come from electronic equipment, appliances, three-way switches, dimmer switches, a lot of different sources in the walls from wiring errors, electrical panels, et cetera.
One of the easiest ways to protect your bedroom from electric and magnetic fields is to simply, at night, turn the breaker off in your bedroom that controls the walls. That would mean that if you had a clock radio plugged in, you would need to have a battery to power the clock radio, so you still have that functionality.
It eliminates all of that. Unless there is something coming through the floors that, if you’re on the second story, there might be lighting underneath and the ceiling, so those are things that we take a look at and measure, and really characterize the space.
Wireless frequencies are coming from one point source to another, such as a cell phone tower to a cell phone, or a router to a laptop, et cetera. These frequencies are higher and faster and are permeating every cell in our bodies. There are many, many studies, hundreds of studies now that have been reviewed in the past five years by the Bioinitiative report, if anyone wants to look that up, that are specifically discussing and finding evidence for health effects—health effects from electromagnetic radiation.
DEBRA: I remember when the Bau-Biologie’s class came to assess my house, one of the things that they did measure for was EMFs. And they had me lie on my bed, and then measure around me, so that I could see exactly what was going on with the EMFs while I was sleeping. And that was a very interesting thing to see.
But the thing that they found as being the number one source of EMFs in my particular house was my cordless phone, which I was sitting right next to all day long every day. And so it was just a very easy fix for me to just eliminate the cordless phone entirely. I’m not talking about my cell phone. I’m talking about a cordless phone like a base that you would sit on a desk.
I also had a battery back-up that I had sitting underneath my desk, connected to my computer with a surge protector and everything. And that was the second hottest item. And I was literally sitting on top of it. I was just inches away, until I removed those two things and it greatly reduced—I totally agree with you about turning off the breaker.
I don’t do that myself personally, but I have certain rooms where the EMFs have been adjusted in the rooms, so that it’s not live. And it does make a difference, but I just want people to know that there are things, like individual items, if you have cordless phones or some kind of power source, that if you would just change that one thing, that it can make a huge difference in the amount of EMFs you’re being exposed to on a daily basis.
But once again, it’s worth it to have somebody come with a meter and find out where your exposures are.
DIANA SCHULTZ: Yes, cordless phones are huge. They are 24/7, way worse than your cell phone because your cell phone pretty much stays idle. They are transmissions going through a cell phone when you’re not on a call, but it’s not as drastic an exposure level as a cordless phone.
DEBRA: People have all this attention on cell phone now. There’s all this attention on cell phones, but cordless phones are even worse.
DIANA SCHULTZ: Yes, and you can get a hardwired phone at Office Depot, or Radio Shack, whatever, $8 for a GE.
DEBRA: Very inexpensive.
DIANA SCHULTZ: Yes, and it has caller ID, call waiting, all the digital—and it does not have a wall wart or a transformer plug that plugs into the wall. The power source for these phones should be through the phone cord, through the phone jack, right in your wall.
So if you lose power, you don’t lose the phone. It’s still connected to the phone system.
DEBRA: That’s exactly right. So what are some other tips for people on how they can clean up their homes?
DIANA SCHULTZ: You can move the clock radio away from your bed, or you get a battery-powered which is even better. The router that you’re using for your computer equipment is a huge source as well. And that is something that we recommend people hardwire.
We used to have local area networks, or LANs. Basically, what we’re saying is to take a cord, you can plug into the port at the back of the router, the USB port, and take an internet cable right to your laptop or right to your computer.
DEBRA: And that’s exactly what I do.
DIANA SCHULTZ: Yes, me too. You have to get into the software, and turn off the wireless portion of the router, and the wireless communications on either your desktop or your laptop as well because they will still try to transmit. So you need to turn those transmitters off.
Some people get a computer guy or a geek guy, or they know how to do that themselves and getting into their preferences of their computer.
Apple computers are very easy. You can just toggle those on and off. You should be able to toggle it on and off, so that you have control over that.
It’s huge, and we just highly recommend that people pay attention to where the cell phone towers are in your neighborhood, the new SMART meter, the power meter on the side of your house is also a digital transmitter. It’s transmitting your usage data to the utility company 24/7. That is just another big problem that if you’re interested, you could go to StopSmartMeters.org, and see a lot of information about that.
DEBRA: And also, to keep in mind with electromagnetic fields that they go right through walls. And so if you have something on the other side of a wall, to watch out for that. It could be that your best is up against a SMART meter, which is on the outside of your building, or your desk is up against the refrigerator on the other side of the wall, or something like that. And all those electromagnetic fields are just coming right through. They get blocked by methane except—well, what blocks the electromagnetic field?
DIANA SCHULTZ: The electric fields drop off pretty quickly. Those are measured in bolts per meter. Magnetic fields are measured in milli-Gauss. You cannot effectively shield magnetic fields. You need a distance away from them.
Wireless radio frequencies can be shielded. Our mitigation strategy is to eliminate the source, and that goes for any of these hazards. Eliminate the source first, then distance yourself from what’s left, and then shield if you need to as a last result.
And shielding can include shielding your walls from exterior sources like SMART meters, and cell towers, et cetera. You need to eliminate the sources inside if you’re going to do that because any wire mesh you put in the wall to shield or paint. There’s a shielding paint. There’s a lot of shielding fabric, shielding foil.
Using these things if you need to make sure that it’s not going to bounce back at you. So that’s why it’s important to measure the direction that these things are coming from because they are directional, and they do reflect and bounce.
We’re pretty good at figuring that out and then coming up with a plan for people. Sometimes you can’t do all of these things all at one time, but that’s okay. Just take it easy and do what you can, and there are good, better and best choices.
DEBRA: Diana, I have to interrupt you because we’re coming to the end of the show, and the music is going to start. Thank you for being with me. You can go to Diana’s website, GreenAndHealthyHomes.net. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and this is Toxic Free Talk Radio.