Recently I hosted a webinar with Brian Johnson, a healthy home builder who shared a ton of invaluable information on how to build, remodel, and handle home improvements in a clean, non-toxic way. Those who joined the webinar live had some stellar questions for Brian, and although he answered as many as he could, there were SO MANY amazing questions that we just didn’t have time for.

Luckily, Brian generously offered to answer those questions!

Read on for some of the best insider information on healthy home building and products to keep you feeling great. Didn’t catch the webinar with Brian? Check it out on my webinar library!

Want to connect with Brian and get your own questions answered? Go to his website, SENERGY360 and if you’re on social media, make sure to follow him on Instagram @senergy360.

On to the questions!

 

What credentials/education should we look for in a contractor?

Brian’s answer: First, work with someone who prioritizes health and comprehends the impact various building materials can have on our well-being. If you ask about EMFs, RF, and VOCs and you are met with a blank stare, it may not be the fit for you. Next, seek someone highly knowledgeable and forward-thinking in the construction industry; someone who thinks out of the box and is open to continuous learning. They don’t have to know all the answers but they need to be curious and resourceful enough to research the answers. To be honest, there are very few contractors who are literate in healthy home building. This is precisely why I created SENERGY360. We work side by side with contractors, overseeing, advising and managing the process. Other than that, I would consider finding someone certified by the Building Biology Institute (BBI).

 

Are there any reputable companies that build homes, including tiny homes, that you feel are safe for individuals with chemical sensitivity, MCAS, mold illness etc? Are there homes that are totally safe, or is it just about picking our battles?

Brian’s answer: Ultimately, it really is about picking your battles. It’s a matter of finding someone or a company that makes you feel safe and heard. Every builder emphasizes different aspects of health, so aligning with someone who understands and supports your specific needs is crucial. Again, this is why I created my company. You will certainly find companies that can and will build with one or two, maybe three facets of a healthy home. But, you’d be hard-pressed to find any other company that will look at the home holistically and capture every facet of what it truly means to build a healthy home. For instance, they may understand EMF’s, non-toxic furniture and water filtration, but they miss the actual land and environment or the ventilation and air exchange. They may use non-toxic flooring but use toxic glue and adhesives. So it becomes a matter of prioritizing the most important factors for YOU. Also, we can partner with your conventional builder, contractor and/or architect, to guide and advise them.

 

For those most sensitive, won’t most construction materials and products labeled “non-toxic” technically be “low toxic” in actuality, resulting in reactions after spending all the money….or is that not the case?

Brian’s answer: Anything that is manufactured will have some form of chemical used in processing. The goal is to source the least chemically produced, or unprocessed items. Similar to food, you read the ingredients and decide if that’s what you want to expose yourself to. Are the elements safe for me? Sometimes it’s very individual, where you might react but someone else would not. SENERGY360 uses testing methods that will analyze the over 800 different chemicals utilized in the construction process.

 

What are the limitations that city and state regulations put on building or renovating as nontoxic as possible?

Brian’s answer: Building codes are focused on physical safety and liability. They don’t affect healthy home building. In fact, everything we use meets and exceeds building code safety regulations.

 

Whether buying or renting a house or apartment with a lease, we can’t necessarily account for the unsafe additions and practices of existing and future neighbors; short of moving to an eco-village with a manifesto everyone signs, what protective measures can someone pouring money into all these natural building strategies do to protect those wild card factors of current and future neighbors?

Brian’s answer: Ahh, the neighbors. We can’t control other people, can we? No. But we can control our own homes and our own environments. That’s why I create homes that protect you from the outside environment. We control your building envelope. So if someone opts to put a 5G tower on their roof, we build your home to protect you from the cellular frequencies. If someone is using Spring Fresh dryer sheets and the whole neighborhood reeks of fragrance, no worries, we build a fool proof internal air filtration system. We build homes to protect you from toxic exposures at every level. We worry, so you don’t have to!

 

It seems very difficult to truly escape mold. What can a renter, who doesn’t have the resources to move or remediate, do to improve their environment with a modest budget?

Brian’s answer: Beyond remediation, invest in a HEPA vacuum to clean, and non-toxic cleaners to wipe down every square foot of the environment frequently, preferably daily. Have a portable HEPA air filtration unit, at minimum, and ensure proper ventilation and air exchange with outside air that is filtered well.

 

Can you build a mold-safe home on, or close to, the beach or is there too much humidity?

Brian’s answer: Yes, we focus on using building systems that are breathable and that help absorb humidity and release in cycles. We also focus on ventilation and climate control systems that acclimate the ecosystem within the envelope. So whether the home is on the beach, in the rainforest or in the desert, we control the internal climate and shield it from external factors.

 

What causes a crawl space to have 80% humidity after the first rain of the season?

Brian’s answer: Insufficient ventilation and the release of hydrostatic vapor from saturated soil can occur when the ground is covered by a building structure. Moisture tends to seep beneath the structure, releasing vapor. Utilizing proper ventilation techniques for basements and crawl spaces is essential to prevent this from happening.

 

What would you recommend for a healthy non-toxic flooring that is not too expensive?

Brian’s answer: I recommend using any non-porous, hard surface that is labeled non-toxic and easy to clean. Suitable examples include engineered wood, certain natural stone, and porcelain tile. Be sure that all the materials used to install it are non-toxic as well, i.e., glues, adhesives, sealants, thinsets and any bonding agents.

 

What are the stand alone air purifiers you recommend for rooms in a home for both particles and VOCs that don’t themselves off-gas/give off odors?

Brian’s answer: I prefer true HEPA non UV systems. Ideal are HEPA with activated carbon filters.

 

What are the best air filters for mold and mycotoxins that are small enough to fit in a small room, like a bathroom? Does a large standalone air purifier need to clean at .003 microns to clear mold from the air?

Brian’s answer: While having an air purifier with a HEPA filter capable of capturing particles as small as 0.003 microns can be effective, it’s important to note that mold spores typically range in size from about 1 to 30 microns. Most standard HEPA filters can capture particles as small as 0.3 microns, which is sufficient for trapping mold spores.

Here is a high flow HVAC filter replacement option: https://www.filtrete.com/3M/en_US/p/d/b00039984/

 

What is a good portable dehumidifier to place in a room like the bathroom for mold prevention?

Brian’s answer: Look for a compact and portable dehumidifier and consider the dehumidifier’s pint capacity, which indicates the amount of moisture it can remove from the air per day. For the bathroom, a smaller capacity (around 20-30 pints) may be sufficient. Opt for a dehumidifier with an auto shut-off feature that turns off the unit when the water reservoir is full, preventing overflow. Some dehumidifiers offer the option for continuous drainage, allowing you to connect a hose to drain collected water directly.

Popular brands that offer reliable dehumidifiers include Frigidaire, hOmeLabs, and Eva-Dry. However, it’s always a good idea to check the latest reviews and product specifications to find the most suitable option for your specific needs.

 

What do you do if you want to get clean filtered air inside the house, but you live in a very humid area? How do you bring in clean air without bringing in the humidity?

Brian’s answer: At SENERGY360 we work side by side with your contractor to select and install an Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) that preconditions and pre-filters air before it reaches an inline dehumidification system.

 

What are the best water filters/ companies for the kitchen faucet and shower that are easy to place (do not require a plumber/ are NOT under the sink)?

Brian’s answer: I primarily concentrate on comprehensive whole home solutions and I am not as well-versed in DIY systems. Nevertheless, a system such as iSpring, featuring a multi-stage activated carbon block filter and third-party testing to comply with NSF/ANSI Standards, is generally considered a reliable model.

When considering a shower filter, I would recommend seeking similar qualities. Look for a system that incorporates a multi-stage filtration process and has undergone third-party testing to meet recognized standards, ensuring its reliability and effectiveness.

 

What do you think about water pitcher filters (like Brita)?

Brian’s answer: Similar to the previous recommendation, the best water filter, whether attached to the faucet or as a pitcher, would be a multi-stage activated carbon block cartridge that meets NSF/ANSI Standards.

 

What type of portable water system would you recommend (such as Clearly Filtered, Berkey, others) or would it be better to install a whole house system like Kangen?

Brian’s answer: A whole-house water filtration system is often considered superior to portable units for several reasons. Whole-house systems treat water at the point of entry into your home, ensuring that all faucets, showers, appliances, and even outdoor water sources receive filtered water. This provides a comprehensive solution for your entire household. They are designed to handle a wide range of contaminants, including sediments, chlorine, heavy metals, pesticides, and more. They often incorporate multiple stages of filtration. Whole-house systems also allow for customization based on the specific water quality issues in your area, ensuring that the filtration system is tailored to your needs. We have a whole-house system that we work with exclusively and have not found any better system.

From Dr. Kelly: A good resource for researching options is  https://waterdefense.org/.  This is a company that quality tests different filters.  In addition to Brian’s suggestion of iSpring, Aquasana whole-house filter was given high marks.  For portable water filtration pitchers, Clearly Filtered Water was commended for filtering metals.

The other consideration is to assess what toxicants are in the water.  There are 2 companies I am familiar with where you can send your water for testing.  Check out https://watercheck.com/  and https://mytapscore.com/.  This may also help you focus on the toxicants that you need to be filtered out of your water.

 

What is the best brand of meter to buy to measure sources of EMF and RF exposure in a home?

 

Brian’s answer: I use professional grade meters by Safe Living Technologies but they also manufacture meters for individual use.

Use this link: https://safelivingtechnologies.com?aff=257 and search for one of the following:

1. Gigahertz Solutions – ME3840B – for electrical and AC magnetic fields

2. Safe and Sound Pro II RF Meter – for radio frequencies

3. TriField EMF Meter Model TF2 – measures all fields in one

From Dr. Kelly:  I love Safe Living Technologies. I have also used www.lessemf.com for another good source of information and EMF meters and shielding options, including clothing.

Another meter that I have found useful is the Body Voltage meter from Safe Living Technologies.  It is inexpensive, and the best way to ensure that your bedroom is free from electrical EMF.  Check out my colleague, an EMF Building Biologist, Oram Miller’s website, www.createhealthyhomes.com for more details.

If you are interested in learning more about Dirty Electricity, search for a Stetzer Meter https://www.stetzerelectric.com/ or Green Wave Meter. https://greenwavefilters.com/

 

What’s the lesser of the two evils when it comes to stoves? Gas versus induction? One exposes to natural gas the other to EMF.

Brian’s answer: I personally choose gas over induction stoves. However, it’s crucial to exercise caution with gas stoves by ensuring proper hood sizing, adequate spacing, effective ventilation, CFM-rated fans, and potential air make-up systems. I have personally tested induction stoves and found them to emit significant AC fields, so I would stay away. Please note, gas stoves without proper ventilation can put out excessive amounts of carbon monoxide. Consider all these suggestions and a carbon monoxide detector that always gives values so you can see the levels for yourself.

 

What are your thoughts on BlueShield, Qi-Shield, or other technologies that are said to either neutralize/harmonize bad EMF in and around the house? How about wearable EMF products like Harmoni Pendant?

Brian’s answer: I believe in technologies that harmonize, in fact the Building Biology Institute acknowledges harmonizing devices as effective tools for aligning and balancing our biofield in response to exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF).

I personally use and recommend Leela Quantum Tech:       https://leelaq.com/?ref=Senergy360LEELAQ.

 

Is Safe Coat a good company for paint? Any other recommendations?

Brian’s answer: Safe Coat is a reputable company and suitable for specific applications such as sealing materials that are off-gassing. They have a pretty decent line of products. I also utilize products from other companies for different purposes.

I select companies based on the specific requirements of each project. While certain individuals may be sensitive to odors, even in products labeled as no-VOC and non-toxic, those with conditions like Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) might exhibit varying sensitivities to different companies. What works well for some applications may not be suitable for others due to individual sensitivities.

It’s not a one-size fits all.

Two other companies I like a lot are:

https://romabio.com/

https://bioshieldpaint.com

 

If we were all your family members, what products would you want us to have in our homes (beside any that you’ve already mentioned)?

Brian’s answer: Wouldn’t that be fun, if we were all family! I’d build each one of you a Healthy Home. It takes years to understand how to design and use building materials that are safe and non-toxic. Remember, a healthy home to me is holistic, it’s not ONE thing or ONE product, it’s EVERYTHING and every product. The home would take into consideration whole house water filtration, climate control, ventilation, lighting systems, non-toxic building materials, good design, mold prevention, and so much more. Always keep in mind that nature serves as the gold standard, and our goal is to replicate and embody its principles in our work.

Wow! I want to thank Brian Johnson once again for taking the time to answer these questions! He is such a great resource – if you need someone to help you with a home build, remodel, or a Healthy Home Assessment (mold, EMFs, Indoor Air Quality, etc), make sure to reach out to Brian at SENERGY360 so your home – your oasis – is truly a place where you can rest easy and feel your best!