Healthy Home Lighting Makes a Difference in Your Home

Lighting in your home can affect your health.

Healthy Home LightingDo you ever think about lighting and how it affects your health? Not only is lighting extremely important in creating a particular atmosphere, but it is also affecting your health. Most people know that healthy home lighting can affect melatonin levels and sleep, but did you know it could also affect cortisol, asthma, and even blood sugar balance? And by the way, if you did not know this: melatonin is some of our best free-radical scavengers and cancer fighting protection.

Last month we discussed lighting geared toward workplaces and discussed the components of lighting. The information in that post is geared toward healthy office lighting, but many of the principles are applicable to healthy home lighting as well. Click here to revisit that office lighting post and review lumens, color temperature and color rendering index.

Keep in mind lower Kelvin temperature is warm and cozy while higher Kelvin values are more like daylight, which is invigorating. The higher the temperature, the more blue is in the light, which increases mental alertness and reduces melatonin.

A Side Note About Melatonin and Sleep

Electronic screens emit blue light which is one of the reasons using technology in the evenings and/or before bed could disrupt your sleep.

Have you been strong-armed into using CFL (compact fluorescent) bulbs because you’ve heard they are green and consume less energy? Not so fast. CFL bulbs create dirty power on your wiring system. You could install filters to remove this interference, but these filters are still controversial as they sometimes increase other types of electromagnetic radiation. Plus, the electricity used by the filters would cancel out any type of energy savings offered by CFLs. That’s dealing with normal operation. But what about when you break a CFL bulb? The mercury released actually creates a hazardous waste area! Yikesola. They are very toxic. If — or in our experience when —you break a fluorescent bulb, we recommend you seal off the area, open a window and leave immediately. You can return 24 hours later for clean up after all has settled. Studies show if a fluorescent bulb is broken on carpet, you can never completely remove the mercury. Plus, in our opinion, they are pretty ugly and the light they emit is simply not attractive.

And while we are on the subject of fluorescent lighting, they really are not a healthy source of lighting as they are shown to cause migraine headaches ( and eye disease (

Conventional wisdom on “green” lighting isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. What do we do?

Remember those good ole incandescent bulbs? Yep those! They work just fine, the light is good and they don’t cause health issues. In the home, standard incandescent bulbs are great! LED lighting is another option. LEDs are generally better than CFL bulbs, but consider these two things:

  1. Some are worse than others, but our friends at Healthy Building Science have done some testing ( and it appears that CREE LEDs are best.
  2. Be aware of Line Voltage vs. Low Voltage. “What?” you might say. Line voltage is the standard voltage found in outlets and junction boxes (examples include lamps, and most ceiling fixtures) while low voltage uses a transformer to step the voltage down from 120 volts to 12 volts.

Many recessed can lights are low voltage, as are task lighting, desk lighting and LED strips. Do we love having this kind of lighting for working or just creating a mood? Of course we do! However, it comes at a price, and that price is magnetic fields. If you choose this type of lighting, place the driver/transformer away from locations where you spend a lot of time

Well friends, there’s still a chill in the air where we are, so w’re headed to light our EcoSmart non-toxic bioethanol fire. We have to admit fire light might be our favorite source of lighting!

Cheers to living healthy!

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 for more information and recipes as well as to be included in the Facebook support group.

Have a Happy Fall!

Are Power Lines Dangerous? The Connection Between Power Lines & Health

Power Lines are Everywhere

Is there a connection between power lines and health?We see them all the time but in a sense, they are invisible to us. The power lines that provide our electricity are everywhere, but do you ever think about them? More importantly, are power lines dangerous to our health? Most of us go through our day expecting lights to work, food to be cold, and the oven to be hot. Is this method of delivering electricity completely safe? Yes — and no. We don’t want to scare you but remember the quote: Knowledge is power (no pun intended!).

Vital Spaces has seen an increase lately in concern with power lines and their health impact, and the concern is valid. We’ve reviewed a number of studies, which show that living near or next to power lines increase the chance of cancer and other health issues. There is a lot of controversy over whether power lines are dangerous. Regardless, power lines create magnetic fields, and magnetic fields have been linked to many health issues from headaches and depression to cancer, particularly childhood leukemia.

Should you be concerned? We think the answer should be yes: a small amount of effort could yield big health benefits.

About Magnetic Fields

Lets do a quick review. What are magnetic fields? Magnetic fields are electromagnetic radiation caused by current. Current is present when appliances are on and running. Magnetic fields are also generated by wiring errors and transformers. The other sources of electromagnetic radiation include electric fields (caused by voltage) and radio frequency (caused by communication signals) such as those emitted from cell phones, WiFi, radio and cellular towers, Bluetooth devices, your Apple TV or Roku, and practically any other wireless device in your home. All electromagnetic radiation is linked to health issues, but in this blog we are most concerned with magnetic fields as they relate to power lines.

Power Lines Generate Magnetic Fields

What happens near power lines? Magnetic fields can be very strong. Fortunately, fields decrease dramatically with distance. Factors that increase a reading include proximity to transformers. Transformers are used to change the voltage on the line, typically stepping it down to enter a home or building.

The distance the lines are apart from one another also make a difference. The closer they are together the more the lines are canceling each other out. There is something called a Hendrix Spacer Cable which decreases the distance between the lines. Buried cables are much better since the spacing is naturally closer. An electrical substation is obviously worse. Additionally, the loads on the lines can be less or more depending on time of day and are highest generally in the evenings when people are home and utilizing electricity most.

Limiting Your Risk

Are there guidelines for limiting exposure to magnetic fields? Not in the United States. The International Association for Building-Biology® and Ecology has a limit of 0.2mG (milligauss) for sleeping areas (your body is 10 – 100 times more susceptible while sleeping and sleep is the time to give your body a rest since it is in healing mode). The World Health Organization says a level of 3 – 4mG is possibly carcinogenic. Sweden has a limit of 3mG and Switzerland sets the limit at 10mG. Vital Spaces typically sees readings of 0.2 – 1.5mG in the average home environment. As a building biologist, we want to see readings of less than 1.

What Can You Do?

  1. We suggest having a building biologist measure magnetic fields in and around your property as well as property you are considering for purchase. Contact Vital Spaces today to schedule this assessment.
  2. You can purchase an inexpensive meter and measure it yourself. Keep in mind that many times we see clients who have done this, but they either feel their meter is not reading properly or they just can’t be sure they are measuring correctly.
  3. Once we learn the level of exposure and risk you are dealing with, Vital Spaces is available to offer common sense solutions. You may be surprised at both the risk you’re dealing with and the practical steps you can do to improve your health.

Bottom Line: Isn’t a quick magnetic field test worth your health and especially the health of your children who are more susceptible than adults? After all, you deserve to live your best life!