Spring Invasion: Strategies to Reduce Pollen in Your Home Sweet Home

It’s that time of year … Allergy Season.

eliminate pollen from your homeSome of us dread it and for good reason: 67 million people in the U.S. suffer from allergies and our abundant outdoor beauty here in the Upcountry means dealing with loads of it. Year after year the Carolinas rank as some of the worst places for allergy sufferers and if you think you escape pollen when you enter your home, then think again. Allergy symptoms are barely alleviated inside residential structures for most, but I say your home can be a refuge if you plan to keep the outdoors at bay.

Here are some questions and answers to help you reduce pollen in your home.

Q: How do I clean the yellow film off my outdoor living areas without contributing to my spring allergies?

A: Let’s back up. Did you know the yellow coating produced by pine trees is not a significant allergy trigger? It’s actually the pollens created by grasses and non-pine trees, so your first line of defense is your outdoor area. Keep grass low and discourage growth of weeds, as they are the most prolific producers of allergenic pollen.

Q: How can I keep pollen out of my home?

A: The best way is to implement simple consistent habits: wear a hat outdoors, take your shoes and clothes off at the door or mud room (if possible), put your clothes into the washer immediately and then take a shower and wash your hair. Remember, if you go to bed with pollen on your body or in your hair, you will spread the pollen in your bedroom. Building Biologists are always concerned about the bedroom first since your body is not only in healing mode while sleeping, but also more susceptible to all toxins.

Q: Are there other ways my home can help me get through the spring?

A: Regularly change your HVAC filters and use the highest MERV rating your system can handle. Clean dust from things in your home using damp cloths. Vacuum using a true HEPA filter equipped vacuum cleaner and invest in whole house or individual room air purification. And, don’t forget about your furry friend! Allergens get trapped in pet hair so be sure to bathe your pets often.

That’s all for now, friend. If pollen gives you a hard time, you have my sympathy. Don’t just suffer! Take the steps mentioned in this post to minimize your exposure to pollen within your home.

Is Mold Ruining the Air Quality in Your Home or Office?

Mold Affects Indoor Air Quality

As building biologists, we take mold very seriously. The air quality of a home or office cannot be ideal if there is mold present. Just the other day in an office with PTAC units (the type of AC unit you see in hotel rooms), we asked the maintenance person to remove the cover, and…YIKES! The units had not been cleaned in quite some time and there was quite a bit of mold. Of course no one would see the mold since it was covered, but it was most definitely affecting the office air quality.

No one should have to breathe that kind of mold accumulation. If you have allergies, sinus problems, respiratory illnesses, or headaches, exposure to the mold could make you miserable. Or worse, if you are sensitive to mold, it could be causing major illness.

Why Is It Harmful to Air Quality?

Mold is highly toxic to humans. It releases mycotoxins (chemicals the mold releases to defend its territory) and mold volatile organic compounds/MVOCs (gases released by actively growing mold) so it packs a double whammy. Mold looks awful. But it’s not just sitting there looking bad — it is a living organism that is actively spreading toxins. And you are breathing them.

Where Do We Find Mold Growing?

Mold grows anywhere there is moisture: showers, front-loading washing machines, inside walls, inside HVAC systems, closets, etc. And, as a side note, if you have a pet who has ever urinated on your carpet, there is a high possibility mold is growing underneath the spot where the accident occurred.

OK, I Have Mold. Now What?

Don’t worry — it’s pretty common, but you can (and should!) do a few things to minimize your exposure and your risk.

  • Be sure to keep the moisture low in your home or office. Fix a leak immediately (mold starts growing in 24–48 hours), and clean up excess water.
  • Monitor indoor humidity. It should be between 40% and 60%, anything higher is contributing to mold growth. A properly functioning air conditioning system should be removing humidity so these levels are attained.
  • Clean it up. Safely. As for cleaning up the mold, please do not use bleach. It is highly toxic and spreads mold spores. Use these natural cleaners:
    • Tea tree oil mixed with water in a spray bottle.
    • Food grade hydrogen peroxide mixed with water in a spray bottle (this is our preference but take note — if it gets on your hands it may cause white spots but its harmless and goes away quickly)
    • Borax and water paste. Spread it on and leave overnight; then rinse in the morning.

Vital Spaces wants you to have healthy air quality in both your home and office.

Join Us for a Shaklee Reset

shaklee1On a different note, want to do a little holiday prep to ensure the season is better enjoyed? Join us for a Shaklee Reset November 7–11. A reset will help you jump start weight loss, overcome cravings, and balance & regulate your hormones. It can also realign your true appetite, boost metabolism, enhance digestion, bring radiance to eyes and skin and increases focus, clarity, and energy. Need we say more?

A simple Reset can be done with only Shaklee’s Life Shake and a multi vitamin but if you want to make it a true cleanse, these products are recommended:

Click here to order products by October 30 at and email us at angela@vitalspacesnow.com for more information and recipes as well as to be included in the Facebook support group.

Have a Happy Fall!

Building Biology for Babies and Children

The three tenets of building biology include clean air, clean water, and minimal electromagnetic radiation. Lets explore how each of those should be applied to our precious offspring.

Should you be concerned about building biology for babies and children?

building-biology-babies-childrenYou bet you should be concerned. At approximately 40,000+ breaths per day, your baby takes more than twice as many breaths as you do. Could this increased respiration be associated with health problems in an unhealthy structure? Absolutely. Read on to find out what you can do to protect your children.

Everyone knows about the danger of lead, but do you ever think about the other toxic chemicals in your home? Formaldehyde, used to preserve dead bodies, is in everything from cosmetics to wood products such as furniture and cabinets. Some of the most off-gassing products in a home include adhesives, caulks, and sealants. Be very careful about these. There are excellent alternatives for these products as well as paints and wood finishing products.

Healthy Options for Flooring

That leads us to flooring. It’s great to use environmentally friendly products like bamboo (ask for a variety with no added urea formaldehyde) as long as you don’t stain it with an unsafe product. Cork is a great option as is all-natural linoleum (linoleum is an all natural product made from linseed oil but confused with vinyl products made with petrochemicals). Wall-to-wall carpet is not recommended under any circumstances. That new carpet smell that most people equate with “new” is like chemical warfare (okay, not quite but almost!). Carpeting is treated with more chemicals than we could list such as formaldehyde (oh yea, we mentioned that didn’t we?), fire retardants, and toluene.

Carpet and padding also create a breeding ground for bacteria and mold, and they are quite efficient at holding in things like pesticides and any other toxins emitted in your home. Even natural wool or silk carpets are often treated with chemicals. And any toxin that gets under the carpet cannot be vacuumed up; you have to remove the entire carpet to get rid of it all. Needless to say, carpet definitely lowers your air quality.

Does it really matter what kind of crib you get? Yep.

Solid wood (versus treated wood products such as particle board) is best for the crib and other furniture. Cribs made of solid wood are constructed of natural wood through and through, and cribs made with laminate wood or particle board include adhesives to hold the layers or particles together. Also, when you’re selecting bedding, opt for natural fabrics and upholstery. Fabrics that come in contact with your baby are very important, such as diapers. It’s best to use all-natural cotton, untreated with harsh chemicals like most synthetics.

Lets talk about electromagnetic radiation.

Babies and children are more susceptible to electromagnetic radiation, so take note. Radio frequency (RF) is in the same range as a microwave oven, and a baby monitor emits harmful RF. Keep your cell phone away from your baby. Here are some products to help you do just that. And by all means keep your baby away from WiFi routers and wireless items such as printers and remote controls. The other areas of electromagnetic radiation include electric fields and magnetic fields. Electric fields can be reduced by shutting off the circuit to the room at the breaker box. Be sure to unplug all electrical items around the crib such as night lights and lamps.

What else can you do to protect your babies and children?

Individual and whole-house air filtration is recommended. And water? Vital Spaces discussed the danger of unfiltered tap water last month. Don’t you owe it to yourself and your family to ensure a clean environment with clean air and clean water? Well, only if you want yourself and your family to live the best possible life. We think a healthy family and quality days are pretty important.

Call us for more information on air purification and electromagnetic radiation reduction.

Vital Spaces offers:

  • Healthy home and building consulting
  • Air and water purification and
  • Healthy life products.