NTE Podcast: Goodbye 2019

We’re saying goodbye to 2019 and we just cannot begin to express our gratitude for making this such a wonderful year.  Through this show, we’ve reached so many new people and have been able to assist on hundreds of new builds and remodeling projects around the world. And while this all seems great…2020 is going to be EPIC!  I share a little bit about this in today’s show.

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NTE Podcast: Goodbye 2019

We are back, Non Toxic Environments. What took you guys so long? Well, we’ll talk about it, actually I’ll talk about it. Jay’s still on vacation but quite honestly lots of talk about today on our short but sweet show for the end of 2019. We are back this week for a quick episode of Non Toxic Environments, and first off I have to apologize for being gone for a couple of weeks. You know, this time of the year, a lot’s going on, a lot of projects we’re wrapping up across the country. It was really difficult to find time for Jay and I both to meet and be able to lay down some, some good shows for you guys. So we just couldn’t make it happen and we just decided not to give it a half of an effort. I thought I’d come back today though with some exciting news, most exciting news for you is to let you know that Non Toxic Environments will be back with a new season three. We’re calling it NTE 3.0

That’s right. We’re going to be coming back with Non Toxic Environments version 3.0. So what does version 3.0 mean? Well what this means is obviously it’s the third year of doing the show. We will not be recording the shows as we are right now, you know 187. 188, 189. We’re going to be starting off with a essentially a new show, a new look, and NTE 3.0 is going to be similar to what we’ve been doing so far in that we’ll be discussing topics that relate to healthy homes of course, but we are going to be doing every show recorded both audio and video. That’s right! We will be broadcast these shows both on Apple iTunes, Stitcher, GooglePlay, Spotify and as a hosted podcast. But we’ll also have the shows up and available on YouTube!

We’ve been getting a lot of feedback from folks that really want to be able to see an interaction with the products and and things that we talk about. And this is also opening up a brand new avenue for us to be able to launch a new series of shows based upon some hands-on demonstrations and more interactive shows. So you know as as we bring these items out and essentially flushed these ideas out a little more and I will definitely be letting everybody know what’s all involved but let’s just put it this way; Non Toxic Environments is not, is not only not going away, but it’s getting stronger, it’s getting bigger and we’re going to offer more variety. What variety you may ask. Well, we’re in the process right now of launching what we call a GDC TV. For those of you who know my main business is called Green Design Center and we’re a supplier of healthy and building materials and I’ve been doing the consulting for quite some time now and educational events, I travel around the country at speaking events and whatnot. One of the things that that I’ve been asked to do over the years is to do more programming and more educational events that are geared towards homeowners. And I realized that all of us respond really well to visual examples. And so, we’re launching GDC TV, which is going to be our YouTube network and we’ll have different programming. We will have shows based upon industry news. We’ll have shows based upon my Degree of Green reports and reviews, and we’ll actually do hands on demonstrations of how to use products, hands-on demonstrations of doing FRAT testing. Folks, you know, you’ve been asking for these things and we are listening. This has been a remarkable year for us. Remarkable in that we believe we’ve never been in contact with so many new clients before and we believe a lot of it has to do with this show.

The numbers to me are staggering for the fact that we have a very small staff here but, we talk to a lot of people and we help a lot of people and so, we understand that this show is actually getting into the ears of those who need to hear it. But we need to do better. We need to do a better job. We are 110% committed to this. This particular equipment that I’m talking to you through right now is a new investment we made so that the show will be more dynamic. It allows us the ability to tap into a video and do things like live casting. We will be launching a a new service to have live interactive chat sessions that we’ll be broadcasting through some of the social media platforms because we want to have the ability to reach more people. Like I said, we’re 110% committed to this. We believe this is not only the wave of the future, but this is current time, this is the time we live in and whatever we can do to be of assistance, that’s what we’re here for. So I hope you are as excited about this as we are!

One of the things that we’ve been talking about for quite some time now is doing more interviews with industry experts and quite honestly, the biggest problem we’ve been having is connectivity. Trying to reach the right people. The timing of schedules. I’m a lot to blame for that, you know, fortunately and unfortunately I’m very busy so it’s very difficult for me to set enough time aside to be able to conduct these interviews. But the new audio equipment that we have allows us to bring in calls through cell calls and internet phone calls with fantastic clarity to the point where we’ll actually be able to have live recordings, so you’ll hear it recorded but we’ll be doing live call ins from clients asking questions and industry experts with those answers.

There’s so much to talk about. We’ll be letting you all know about that as moving forward. But I just wanted to get this out there to let you know we are working for you right now; kind of behind the scenes. You will see NTE 3.0, our newest iteration of the show, launching after the first of the year. Super excited about it. And as the weeks go on, especially as the new show starts to come out, we’ll be introducing some new things to you. Just know that we’re doing this all for you all and we enjoy it! We believe that it’s beneficial for all of you. It’s beneficial for us. We’re learning a lot about our client base and and about what you need and what, what we can do more for you.

Keep those ideas and suggestions coming! Please, please, please email me [email protected], please go to iTunes and leave us a review and a rating, and pretty soon you’ll be able to go to and leave us reviews on YouTube and actually interact on the shows. Folks, we are so excited about this. I’m just really happy that we’re finally at a place in, in this business that we can quite honestly afford to do this. And it’s all because of you all reaching out to us and, and it’s wonderful. So thank you all. I want to thank you all for a fantastic 2019. I have learned so much from you. The projects that I’m working on right now; eery time I work with a new client, I learn something new that I can pass along to the rest of you. And so I couldn’t be more grateful for the customers that I have. The friendships I’ve developed. And 2019 was really a remarkable year for all of that. And I just can’t thank you enough. 2020 look out! It’s gonna be a great year, a lot to share, a lot of content, and I’m super excited. So on that note, that’ll do it for 2019 Non Toxic Environments. A little bit of the new sound that we’re bringing, new attitude, new ideas, new level of excitements. Folks, we will see you in 2020!

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NTE Podcast- Goodbye 2019


NTE Podcast: Great Time To Give Our Thanks

The year is winding down and the holidays are upon us.  Today. Jay and I take some time to give our thanks to those who help us, and help all our listeners.  Make sure to listen through the episode, because we also announce a new giveaway! You definitely want to take advantage of this.

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Great Time To Give Our Thanks

Great Time To Give Our Thanks

Andy: I’m thankful to have a roof over my head and thankful to have a wonderful wife who supports me every step of the way. I’m thankful I lost 6lbs on a vacation where I was eating the entire time! But today Jay and I will talk about the things we’re truly thankful for in our business and in our lives. We hope you enjoy!

We’re back here at Non Toxic Environments. Jay, today we are taking a little break from our normal activities, it’s Thanksgiving so lets give some thanks.

Jay: Yea boy aren’t we thankful. I can think of a whole lot of folks we could say thanks to. For you and me both it’s just the people surrounding our businesses. The people we count on to provide the products we recommend and folks we’re in a business where there’s a lot of different moving parts of a project.

Andy: Without a doubt, and for me, I’m thankful for my employees, really thankful the last few weeks since I was on vacation for a while and they did wonderful work while I was gone. They always do wonderful work but especially when I’m gone it allowed me to relax and have a good time they kept the ship above water and flowing towards the right direction. So I’m very thankful for my employees and I’m very very thankful the manufacturers we work with obviously your company Jay, AFM, it’s been a wonderful relationship over all these years and it continues to grow and I’m very thankful for that.

Jay: I am too thank you Andy. With us, it’s our customers, and our vendors, we’re all kind of on a team together, that’s how I feel about tit and all growing towards the same direction. That’s the goal anyway. It really makes it a lot easier when everyone’s thinking the same way and on the same page. Wanting to do what we’re here to do and that’s to help everyone live a healthier life.

Andy: And I have to say, I am most thankful for my clients and customers. Not because of the fact products they buy, or the services they hire me for, that goes without saying; of course I’m thankful for that. What I’m really thankful for is the education that they give me, that they give us both I think, and so I thought it would be kind of fun to share some of those stories and I’ve got a couple I can talk about off the top of my head and maybe while I talk Jay you can think of some that have affected you in the last year…

Jay: Let me think about it but go ahead with yours.

Andy: So I can think of all the wonderful clients I work with; I’ve said this over the years, one of the best things about my career and what I do is that I actually get to hear directly from the people who are affected either positively or negatively by the things they do in their home. And because of that, I get a direct education on the items that are healthy to use, unhealthy to use, questionable, and of course just because it works for one doesn’t mean it works for all. But it gives me an insight and so when people say… I had a customer recently who was looking at some flooring materials and he wanted to know what kind of testing is done to make sure it doesn’t offgass and I said, “Well, here’s the tests that they do, here’s the test that I do (FRAT test),” and I said, “more importantly, I have anecdotal information. I have customer testimonials who we’ve worked with for years that have worked with that product for years with wonderful success.” And he got back to me and said that anecdotal information wasn’t really trustworthy, do you have any data? And you know, that’s a good question. Sometimes there isn’t data. But when I have dozens, hundreds, thousands of people who have used a product very successfully, and can tell me why it worked well for them, and it my mind, that’s more important than just about anything.

Jay: I agree, and I fall back most of the time on the anecdotal stories we’ve heard. I like them because it’s a real world situation with a real world challenge. And I understand why people want 3rd party verifications or collaborations or whatever you want to call it, because they don’t want to think you’re just blowing your own horn all the time and would like to make sure what you’re saying is true. But at the same time because of the very challenges we have with the different client chemical sensitivity thresholds, and the projects and the complexity of those I really love to refer back to knowing what I know from the real world, from the story that was told to me, and then, you too, I notice we are our own guinea pigs. You’re working on your house all the time and the office there, and I’m doing the same thing here with us, and everything that you sell I know and everything we put together I’ve had some experience personally with. I think that’s a very powerful thing we get to share with our clients. When I tell people I’m using one of my products and I’ve used one of my products very successfully, and I explain to them exactly what I did and what they can expect, because in most cases I’ve been living with this for quite a while. So, to me that’s a powerful tool to give people a kind of confidence.

Andy: Without a doubt.

Jay: And I’m willing to say, and I know you are too, I did that- it didn’t work, so maybe go down a different trail. We can give you some suggestions on what we’ve discovered when we found something wasn’t working really well.

Andy: And on top of that too, if it’s not going to work, you and I both are going to hear about it from the customers so we’ll have to fix the problem.

Jay: Oh yea.

Andy: That’s one of the things I’m very grateful for. I can certainly point it out right now. I’m very grateful for the fact that we’ve created this company wide mantra, and you’re right along with that Jay, where we touch everything we sell. We know how it works, we know how it installs, how well it works. A lot of the products we sell are sold specifically because we know that it’s the healthiest material available of its kind. And we also know the limitations.

Jay: Well, you had to do a heck of a vetting when you put together your Degree of Green program.

Andy: I did.

Jay: And you had to vet every one of those products you sell, you had to look at them very carefully. And you have a whole metric on how to review them.

Andy: Correct.

Jay: And folks if you’re not aware of the Degree of Green program, avail yourself to that. Andy can dive in how to get into the program. A very clear eyed way of evaluating the different products you can bring into your home and the Degree of Green program has a really simple way of understanding that so that when you’re making your decisions you don’t have to make a guess about it. You can go well, I’m looking at Degree of Green, does it hit that note? That note and that note? And if it does, you can have the confidence of knowing. And if it doesn’t hit those notes you can go ‘hm.’

Andy: And I hate to use the A word, but you can go onto Amazon and buy some of these things.

Jay: I thought you were going to say apple pie! Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving!

Andy: That’s not a dreaded word.

Jay: My brother is an excellent pie maker so he’s bringing some tomorrow, so I’m thinking about it.

Andy: That sounds great, I can already smell the turkey dinner right now. So, you can go on Amazon, you can go into big box stores, and get their versions of these things but you know what you’re not going to get? You’re not going to get years of knowledge behind them. Sure you can buy, heck you can even buy some Safecoat products on Amazon and go to these other websites that tout to have everything under the sun… but you’re not going to get the education behind that and I know this to be helpful because another thing I’m incredibly thankful for is the customers who take the time to write reviews, both on our website and our podcast on iTunes. They take the time to write emails, make phone calls, heck, I have people sending me thank you cards. They take the time to acknowledge the fact that there’s something special when somebody not only sells a product but knows how to use it, AND can give me the pitfalls to look out for.

Jay: You know, you’re mentioning about people writing in… is this a good time to talk about our Thanksgiving bonus today?

Andy: I think it is, this is what we’re gonna do, it’s kind of fun folks, and Jay came up with this great idea and this is a wonderful one. You know, a few months ago we offered a free book for those who would write reviews. Well, we’re what we’re going to do this time Jay, this is a great idea, it’s your idea, and so Jay said, what we need to do is for the first 5 people, and I might even increase that because I love reading the reviews.

Jay: And the number doesn’t matter.

Andy: No it doesn’t matter, and so, between now and the end of the year?

Jay: Yea!

Andy: Between now and the end of the year, anybody who writes a review of our podcast and mentions something about giving thanks, whether it’s giving thanks to the show for what you’ve learned, or maybe a contractor you’ve worked with, maybe somebody else you’ve worked with. Giving thanks to what you’ve learned in your life and maybe thanks to somebody who gave you advice on how to do something to make your home healthier. Put it on the podcast on iTunes with a rating for us. If you email me a copy of that review and email it to [email protected] and as soon as we see it up on iTunes, we will reach out to you and Jay and through AFM, what’re you offering?

Jay: Well, I think the thing that probably works for so many people and has for just as long as we’ve been in business folks is the cleaner product we make, Safechoice All Purpose Cleaner, it’s just one of our most popular products, it’s an all purpose cleaner and can be used for a whole host of different cleaning, it’s a concentrate so you dilute it with water. Which means it goes a long long way. Some of our folks who are chemically sensitive use it for their laundry, so it’s so versatile so I thought that that’s a perfect one, everyone needs a product like that. Because we’re always cleaning. Seems like it’d be a simple one. So I thought a quart of the cleaner which will last a long time as an idea. Well, yea!

Andy: I love it, it’s a great give away. Heck, it’s a great purchase. A quart of the Super Clean with shipping is about a $15-20 value, and so anybody who writes a review, and again you need to verify it with me, emailing what you’ve wrote, [email protected]. And so I’m going to actually amend this a little bit Jay, because yes, the AFM Safechoice Cleaner is phenomenal, I use it for everything for myself, including my laundry. But you and I have been working on a, a new product.

Jay: Oh, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

Andy: And this might be a fun time to talk about it. It’s called Mud Puppy. A shout out to Emily here in the office because Emily’s dog Laika, um, absolutely loves the cleaner that we developed here; a dog shampoo. It’s called Mud Puppy.

Jay: And she actually named it. She has, she actually, she actually named it as well through exactly through talking to some, she’s got a very big social media presence and she kind of put it out to her social media friends. And that was the name of that kinda got the, uh, got the award.

Andy: So it looks great. The, the label looks great. Very cute. We’ll be, we’ll be releasing it, you know, worldwide, probably January 1. But, for all of you folks listening, if you write that review, and you say something about giving thanks and send me a copy, you can either get a quart of the multipurpose cleaner or you can get a container of the new Mud Puppy shampoo. And that product comes in either a scented, unscented, which is what our standard is. But, due to popular demand folks wanted some natural very light essential oils in it. And so we can talk about that, you know, one-on-one after we decide what you need. So, that’s the giveaway and that’s from now until the end of 2019.  And, we look forward to reading your comments.

You know, one of the things I’m thankful for obviously is, is hearing the feedback from customers and I want to hear what you’re thankful for, so do that and we’ll be happy to send you a one of these gifts.

Jay: You know when you asked me what I could recall in the past, and nothing right in front of me stands out. But the one thing that I get so much joy out of is when I’ll talk to a customer that I spoke to 20 years ago and they’ve come back and they’ve said, you know, we found you back then and we got direction that really helped us and our health is improved. And we’re back.

I know you feel the same way when you can talk to customers you’ve had for decades. It’s such an endorsement, and it always makes me feel great to know that, you know, the products that we’re putting together and the services we’re providing to our clients is really making a difference.

Andy: For sure. For sure. And you know, you can’t take for granted your customers and friends that they’ve turned into over the years. Right? You can’t take for granted the fact, you know, they could go anywhere. And they do, they go because of what they’re going through. They search high and low for things that work, that help. I have a couple of new clients right now and, and I of course I want to be mindful of people’s privacy, but, when I mentioned this story, they’ll know who they are.

Last weekend, last Saturday I came into the office because I had a couple and their kids drive six, seven hours to meet me from Michigan, to choose materials for a home that they’re remodeling a home that they need to be careful about mold issues. And chemical of course. But we had just a wonderful meeting. They’re here for a couple of hours, just wonderful folks. And, and again, they, they’ll know who they are when I talk about this, I’m not only thankful, but I’m in constant awe at the lengths that people will go to find, not only the materials that they need, but to work with the people they trust. And it’s amazing. It’s just amazing. So to those folks, thank you. To a client of mine I’ve been working with for the past year who her home should be complete. She should be moving in probably next week. Wow. And she went through, I hate to say this folks, but she went through hell in this new home construction. I got involved after the house was underway.

Jay: Oh boy.

Andy: And right when I got involved was when they were doing exterior framing so I couldn’t change things, you know, too drastically. However, all the lumber came to the site with mold on it.

Jay: Yeah. I think you remember talking about this.

Andy: Yep. And the builder, you know, their response was, well, we’ll get it dry walled covered up and so forth. It’ll eventually dry out. Don’t worry about. So I am thankful that she found me when she did, because she reached out last week and in just, you know, she was a new person and she is grateful to be living in, you know, moving into a home that she knows that she’ll be able to tolerate and live in. So, you know, stories like that, it just gets me every time and I just can’t tell you how thankful I am for that if it wasn’t for these wonderful customers that I work with and friends that I’ve developed over the years. I have to be honest with you, Jay, I probably wouldn’t be doing this. It’s a tough, tough business.

Jay: It wouldn’t be as much fun, there’s a lot of stress and you know, that kind of thing going on at the same time, there’s a lot of joy involved in it too. So I understand it’s worth it completely.

Andy: I mean, think of, think of the folks that we’ve known over the years, Jay, some of the pioneers who’ve worked with.

Jay: You know, and that reminds me, we’ve got a kind of a plan for that next year too, don’t we?

Andy: Oh, yes we do. I, you know that, I’m not going to announce that yet, but let’s just say this, folks that to know what your future is and where you need to go, you need to learn where we came from. Jay and I are going to do a wonderful series on the innovators, the pioneers from decades ago, and you’ll be fascinated to hear their stories and I’m looking forward to that. That’s going to be an absolute blast about that.

Jay: Well, Andy, I guess it’s about time to wrap it up.

Andy: It is. And that’s a thing we could go on and on and on about how we are thankful for what we see and hear every single day. But you know, I’m thankful that we have this outlet to do this every week and then fun. It’s really a joy first of all, it’s nice that Jay and I actually have a chance to talk like this for an hour a week and, because you know, he and I are both so busy that it’s usually cryptic texts and emails and maybe a phone call once in a while, but, the fact that he and I actually get to meet once a week and collaborate on something is a real joy.

Jay: And do that undisturbed. That’s a big, that’s a big part of it.

Andy: Exactly. Exactly.

Jay: The phone’s not on, the door is closed. We’ve got a little private cove here of communication.

Andy: Exactly. Exactly. So anyway, Jay, it’s been a wonderful year so far. We still got more episodes to come, but this time of the year where we give thanks for things, I hope we’ve really expressed that to everybody listening. And great idea, Jay coming up with the giveaway and I look forward to reading those reviews and I really look forward to shipping out some boxes of product.

Jay: Nice. Nice.

Andy: All right folks, so, um, couple of things before we go. First of all, go to iTunes and leave that review giving thanks and what you’re thankful for. Send me a copy of that [email protected] Then you know, Jay and I will both reach out and a thank you for that and we’ll send you your free gift. Please make sure to tell your family and friends about the show. We are still growing at a fairly fast pace, growing in listenership. Of course. Jay and I don’t do this because we get paid for it. We do it because we love educating everyone and bringing our ideas to the world. So we can only do that through knowing that you’re listening and knowing that you appreciate the show. So we appreciate that from you.

Jay, you and your family have yourself a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Jay: Same to you, Andy, and I’m planning on it. I know you just got back from vacation. You’re feeling pretty rest, but you know, go ahead, extend that a little bit. Next four days.

Andy: Okay. I will do my best. All right, take care everyone, bye.

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NTE Podcast: Great Time To Give Our Thanks

NTE Podcast: Navigating Winter Projects

We know how temperatures and humidity can affect the home and home projects during the warm humid summer months, but winter poses just as many problems.  Jay and I discuss these to help you avoid those pitfalls and keep your sanity while trying to get the house ready for family and friends visiting for the holidays. 

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Navigating Winter Projects

Andy: Back from vacation and feeling energized and ready to go. But it’s snowing outside and it’s winter time. So let’s talk about projects around the house during the winter here on Non Toxic Environments. Well, welcome back to Non Toxic Environments. Jay, I had a couple of weeks off and I’m feeling well rested. And, how about you? How are you doing these days?

Jay: Well, I’m feeling fine. welcome back. You probably learned a few more Italian words.

Andy: I may have. I may have.

Jay: We just, we just told everybody where you were. Yes, he was in Italy, ladies and gentlemen, he was in Italy. It was business, it was business.

Andy: Yes, It was business.

Jay: But at business of relaxation, you deserve Andy, you deserve.

Andy: Well, we all do. And, and I’ll be honest with you, you know, when I have customers and clients and friends saying, you seem a little tense, you really need to take some time off. So I take that to heart. You know, you’re the same way. I, we love, absolutely love doing what we do. And it’s impossible for you or I to separate what our clients are going through from our own personal life.

Jay: It’s going to be a very emotional situation talking to people who are challenged in any way. And yeah, you’re right. I mean, we get involved on many levels with our clients , and of course folks, when you have health challenges, you need someone that has an ear to your issues. Andy and I have been doing this long enough that we have that empathy that I think is important when we’re trying to figure out in the best possible way how to make things better. So yeah, you get really involved in it and I know that that takes a lot of energy and everyone needs a chance to be able to step back, as you said, kind of recharge the batteries and you know, again, maybe gain a fresher perspective on some things and then step back into the role and start doing what we do. So folks, we’re in the throws of winter 2019, Andy and I thought we would pick up on a theme that we kind of alluded to in one of our earlier podcasts and basically I think today’s show is going to be about winterizing or what would happen during winter if you were involved with doing a project or had to do a project. I think around holidays people sometimes people around holidays when they have guests coming in from out of town they may try do a remodeling of a simple remodeling job just to kind of spruce things up. So in the family or in the friends arrive, everything looks new and kind of fresh. So, but there are some challenges which we’ll get into here. There are some challenges when you’re working with at this time of year with humidity and temperatures and all of that.

Andy: Well, just as there are challenges in summer and we’ve talked about that at length humidity and temperature and so forth. In winter time we have similar challenges. Now, obviously it changes from location to location. You know, challenges in San Diego, it means that you might get a cool breeze one day. Challenges here in Wisconsin is that it gets down to 60 below. And so we have to deal with things a little bit differently. However, let’s take this from from a general approach. In the summertime you’re in cooling mood right? Warmer outside your air conditioning, cooling the inside. In wintertime it’s the opposite. What happens in winter time is as you are running your heat, you’re also drying the air out tremendously. And the air outside is usually drier too. And so instead of having a high humidity situation, you’ve got a low humidity situation and that can cause problems. Now, what also can cause some problems, and you just mentioned this before, sort of in passing that everybody wants to take on projects right before the holidays. You’ve got family and friends coming in, maybe staying at your home. And I’d really like to get this bathroom remodel before Christmas, or I’d really like to get that bedroom finished, right. And we run into the situation where we may run through projects faster than we should. And we kind of put ourselves behind the eight ball because, well, here it is almost the end of November and we only have a few weeks to get a bed, bath remodeling done before the family comes in town. And if you are involved in, let’s say a bathroom remodel and the last thing that gets done in a bathroom remodel is you get the walls painted, right? Well how long does it take for paint to cure? Two weeks.

Jay: Two weeks, two weeks.

Andy: I mean, we tell everybody that 10 days to two weeks is about the average of how long it takes a water based coating to fully cure. So what we don’t want to have is a situation where, yeah, you got the project done, aesthetically, but everything’s still curing. And so, you repaint a room and then two days later, the family’s in town. Everybody’s taken showers. The people who are, who don’t live in the home may not run the fan as diligently as you do. And now you’ve got this buildup of steam and you’re actually going to be causing a problem with the paint curing properly. And you know, chances are you’re looking at probably redoing those walls after the family leaves.

Jay: So we’re on the subject. I want to talk about… what I like to tell folks about the processes. So talking about paint here, folks. When I’m discussing this with clients, I say there’s really two events you’re going to be experiencing. I call the first event, the volatile event. That’s where the product is applied; it’s still wet and everything is evaporating. And during that process you’re going to have elevated levels of odor and you’re going to have to during that time, make sure and certainly that time and throughout the whole curing cycle, make sure that you’re managing your indoor air properly. But there’s two events. There’s that volatile event at the beginning. Typically all things being equal. What’s that mean? It means application was application, directions were followed, preparation instructions were followed, and environmental controls were followed, what we call normal. Okay. So, so you’ve got this volatilization at the beginning that, that event with all those things being equal, that event is going to usually be two to three, maybe four days. And it’s kind of on a curve. You know, if you looked at it on a graph, you’d see the beginning of the project on very high mark with volatility and then it starts to tip off the edge and go down. However, when it gets down to the bottom of that curve, we’re still in curing cycle. We’ve still got maybe seven days left in it. Full cure. And what does that mean? What do you mean full cure? I mean isn’t when it’s dry, isn’t it fully cured? No, no, no, it’s not. The coatings are going to continue to develop their strength, their durability, their scrubability, anything that you want in that particular coating;  that’s what happens at the end of the cure cycle. Now I want to be clear about this because people that are super sensitive, may notice, and Andy check me on this, but they may notice that there is a level of offgassing that’s perceivable during that cure cycle. A lot of folks that don’t have the extreme sensitivities may not notice that, they go through the first four days of volatility and then it drops off the cure cycle. And they’re not really having any issues with the volatility side of that. So, but remembering that, you brought it up when you said about people taking showers and the paint is not cured and the coating gets soft again. Right? And then they’ve tried to clean it and it’s not cleaning well, and it’s a little tacky. And so I just want to make sure that people understand, there’s kind of two events that you want to be mindful of. But at the end of that, the whole idea we want to set is the standard for the ideal conditions for the drying of and curing things. And that’s really straightforward.

Andy: Yeah, I like that. As you say with the curing of product, water-based coatings it takes 7 to 14 days to reach a full cure. Within the first 24 hours of applying a coating, typically 90 to 95% of the curing happens. And to break it down even further to nerd level, you know, curing is essentially the coalescing of the film and the evaporation of the water or solvent, whatever the company uses. That’s what causes the chemical reaction to create the film. But the last 5 to 10% can take that full two weeks. Now this is under perfect conditions.

Jay: Very important to stress that because other than perfect and you know, your timeline starts to stretch out.

Andy: Exactly. And so 70 degrees, 50% relative humidity is what most manufacturers use to calculate their cure times. Right now, let’s say it’s a little cooler because we don’t keep our houses at 70 degrees in the winter time, you know, for energy efficiency reasons, maybe we keep it at 65. Then we add in higher humidity because it’s a bathroom, right? As we were talking about before in our example. Maybe you applied two or three coats and you put them on a little bit thicker, a little bit faster because folks we’ve got to get this job done before the family comes!

Jay: Well certainly when a contractor comes they’ve bid the job on an hourly basis probably. So their whole idea is to get in and get out.

Andy: Right, and so all of this combined means that it probably will not cure in that 7 to 14 days. It means it’s gonna extend the cure time. Now, as you mentioned before, when paints aren’t fully cured in the case of like a Safecoat product when it releases an odor, it doesn’t mean that it’s off gassing and it just means that there’s still moisture trying to come out and the moisture coming out carries with it the chemical footprint of where it was. Offgassing technically speaking would be the release of uncured or unreactive chemical monomers after a coating reaches a full cure. So I make that distinction because all too often somebody calls up and says, how long does your paint off gas? Well, it doesn’t off gas. It cures. And once it cures, that’s it. Most paints and coatings will actually off gas for two and a half to four and a half years after it reaches a full cure. That’s what’s called unreactive chemical monomers. And so there is a difference there. And I know I kind of took it to a geeky level there, but it’s really important.

Jay: And I think it’s a crucial, crucial understanding there. Yeah.

Andy: Yeah. And this is what happens when you’re trying to do a project quickly before the holidays. You may extend these cure times or because you know your guests use the bathroom and this steam builds up, it slows down the rate of evaporation, it slows down the rate of cure, and you might actually be looking at some problems down the road.

Jay: So, someone’s got the situation described in the bathroom and we’re on a fast track. What do we want to tell clients in terms of an acceleration model you know, what would you tell them to do.

Andy: Here’s how you do it. We’ve talked about this and I don’t know how many episodes before you gotta set your timelines properly, you got to put together the plan and work backwards. We want the job not only done, but fully cured and ready to use by December 23rd. Okay, now let’s work backwards. That means two weeks before that date is your last coat of paint. All right. That also means that you’ve got to get the electrician to make sure that the fan is hooked up so that you can get good ventilation. You’ve got to make sure that your countertop and cabinetry fabricators or vendors are on the right schedule. You know, this is kind of going into a different direction here. You have to plan these things and realize that because it is, let’s say here in the upper Midwest winter, also plan in some, some what if time. What if we get a snow storm? What if something’s delayed in shipping, plan that into your timeframe. I cringe every time somebody calls up and says, well, we got a fast track project. We got to get this done by this date. Oh boy. Now that means… this is what we say to each other here in the office. Your poor planning equals my emergency and I mean this, you need to plan properly. I’d rather have you not do it at all then to start it and to finish it too fast. And now we’re running into problems, uh, after the family leaves and people will get all upset.

Jay: I counseled a client just the other day and exactly that. They were talking about undertaking this huge project where they were in someplace it’s winter. And I said, wait a minute, wait a minute. No, no, no. I don’t think we can talk about what to do. This is not the time to do it.

Andy: Correct.

Jay: You need to wait for all the reasons you’re alluding to and you know, there was a sense of relief coming from them. It was like, yeah, thank you. Because it takes so much pressure off of me. Right. I don’t have to figure out how to do this and who to talk to and convince this person and that person figure out where the money’s coming from and blah, blah, blah.

Andy: The problem is though, that there are too many people out there, too many suppliers and stores that’ll say, Oh yeah, no problem. And that ruins it for the rest of us. I would rather, and I have, I can’t tell you how many times I have passed on projects because I couldn’t meet their timeframe. I wasn’t going to promise them something that I knew deep down inside, it would never, never, ever happen. And I would say, I would rather do this the right way than have you mad at me because it didn’t work.

Jay: Right. Exactly. And I think your idea of working backwards is really, really, really smart. Having that date out there and saying, okay, we got to move backwards and we got to do all these things to meet that date. And so you start looking at every one of the little individual things you have to do and start planning that and getting that going so that you do comfortably move into your end time and everyone’s not crazy. Right. Just to get back into the environmental issues around the wintertime.  I had a question that came in either day and it was so what happens if your indoor humidity levels dip below 30%? Is this a no go for any of your paint projects?

Andy: Well, that’s a great question. You know, we’ve, we talk about how we need to keep humidity below 50% in order to eliminate the possibility of mold growth.

Jay: Right, right.

Andy: Well, what happens if it gets too low? It’s a perfectly good question. And, you know, the sweet spot is probably in the 38 to 42%. If I were to be able to pinpoint the perfect, perfect percentage of humidity in the air. And the reason for that is that anything below 35% starts to get uncomfortable, from breathing, sleeping, itchy eyes, scratchy throat, things like that.

Jay: Yeah. And to bring it to the coating side of it. Probably the biggest challenge when you’re working with real low humidity situations, and especially this is the case with water-based products: if the water evaporates so quickly out of the film that the film doesn’t have what’s called the ability to lay down, right. Laying down means that it starts to level itself or leveling is another way it’s described. What that translates to mean is if the water gets out of there too fast and there’s no leveling, you’re going to have tooling marks. What are tooling marks? Brush marks, roller marks because the product has dried so fast, the coating itself didn’t get a chance to level like it should. I mean this is probably more a problem in the summertime when, especially in places where it’s hot and it’s dry and people are trying to paint and you know, those conditions are so dry that they can’t get a good look. It becomes an aesthetic consideration. Now the flip side of that is with all that dryness, everything’s volatizing really nicely. Everything’s getting outta there. All that stuff that wants to evaporate as evaporating really fast. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, you’ve got to watch it. You’ve got to manage it because you want to make sure… You don’t want to paint your doors and your trim and you come back and you go, Oh my God, I’m seeing brush marks. This is awful. What happened? Well, it’s 110 outside and the humidity in here was about 22, you know, not a good time. One of the situations where you say, don’t do it!

Andy: Right. And I’ll tell you a quick story about this. Several years ago I was involved in a project, you may remember this Jay it was called the Kresge foundation. Kresge foundation is a very, very large organization in Michigan and a very large nonprofit. They are a sort of an angel investor and very good to environmental issues and so forth. Anyway, Kresge hired a friend of mine to design all of the workstations for their entire headquarters and she specified the AFM Acrylacq for the finish on all of the workstations, which is great. It was a fantastic project. We probably supplied 300, 400 gallons of Acrylacq to finish all of these workstations. The company doing the finishing was here in Wisconsin and I remember getting a phone call from their head of production and he said, well, here’s a headscratcher for you. He said, we started playing with the finish. We want to make sure all of our finishers here are comfortable with how it lays down. And he said, we put on the first coat and it dries to the touch in 20 seconds.

Jay: Wow.

Andy: Yeah. And I thought to myself, what the heck’s going on here? Well, come to find out that they had never before applied a water-based finish in the history of their company. They’ve always worked with solvents in pre catalyzed lacquers and things like that. And if you know anything about those products, you know, that the worst thing you can have in a spray shop for those types of coatings is humidity. And so what they do is they dehumidify spray booths and the humidity level in the air in their spray shop was about 5%.

Jay: Oh my God.

Andy: And so what happens is, and with water-based, again I’ll geek out a little bit for ya, with water-based coatings as the coating cures, what happens is there are what are called surfactants in the liquid. And those surfactants literally rise to the surface and they poke out the air bubbles because obviously in a water-based coating, oxygen is a chief component. And so you get little air bubbles and those have to be poked out as a surfactants rise to the surface. If the if the coating dries so quickly to the touch that there’s no time for that to happen, you end up with millions of little air bubbles on the surface. And that’s what was happening. What we did to fix the problem was I took a five gallon bucket of water and I just threw it on the floor on the concrete floor, raise the humidity to about 20 to 25% in the spray booth area and it completely solved the problem. Yeah. So examples of low humidity can cause serious problems with coatings because you need time for them to work properly. The other situation is, there’s what’s called saturated surface dry and you find this with either exterior surfaces or interior wood where in wintertime wood can be extremely dry. And if you were to put a water-based coating onto raw wood, or even worse or more importantly, let’s say a water-based stain, what happens is when you apply a water-based stain to a very, very dry piece of wood, saturated surface dry means that the wood is so dry, all of the water and the product soaks into the capillaries of the woods so fast that the pigment in the stain doesn’t even have enough time to penetrate and you get blotchiness. Or in the case of a clear coating, you end up getting almost like a cracking, dusting effect where there’s not enough time for the product to properly coalesce because the water, which needs to be in it to make it work properly, soaks into the surface too fast and it doesn’t allow it to work as a system.

Jay: That is some cool geekiness right there.

Andy: I chalk this up to being on vacation for a couple of weeks.

Jay: And what were you doing there? Were you book learning there?

Andy: I wasn’t! I just cleared out the cobwebs and this stuff comes out. But really, when you’re working with products like the AFM Safecoat products and other materials that are out there that specifically do not use the chemicals and solvents that make them more goof proof, you really have to rely on proper conditions, proper application methods, proper cure times for them to work perfectly. Solvents in products can do a lot of things that are bad for us, but they can do some wonderful things for the application. Meaning anybody who can open up a can and pour it out can probably make them look pretty good because the solvents, the toxins do a lot of the job for you. When you’re working with materials that are very, very safe, but yet they’re not as goof proof you’ve got to be more mindful of the conditions and the application techniques.

Jay: Yeah, I think for the clients that are hearing this today, they’re thinking, okay, uh, so I have to make some accommodations here. Mainly dealing with contractors who are, you know, focused on a certain way of doing things where they use solvent-based products and they’re arguing against the way of something that you want. We always fall back and I know our listeners understand this. We’re always falling back to the idea of what’s going to be the best for our health. You know, what’s going to be the best for the indoor air quality. And so, you know, I think this is what makes this discussion really meaningful because now people get a better sense on a whole different level, on the geek level, about how the physics of this works.

Andy: And, and what I don’t want to do is, and I probably already have scared people away from doing the projects or using these materials. The fact of the matter is folks, that these are the things that good quality suppliers should be telling you and should be educating you about, but they normally don’t. They don’t have the knowledge base or let’s face it, they just don’t really care. They just, they’re so used to what’s available in the industry. Just kind of doing the job for you. I’m in the mindset that I’d like to tell you these things, whether you need to know them or not because I don’t want you to find out the hard way. And now this project that maybe you did have the right time for and you know, plan right for it and you know, you can get it done before the holidays, but something went wrong anyway because I forgot to tell you something and it would make me feel horrible if I didn’t tell you. So what else can happen? You know, I went off on a tangent there. I apologize.

Jay: But let’s work the other side of the equation. Let’s say it’s really wet. You know, we’ve talked about dryness what’s wrong if we’ve got a lot of humidity? It’d probably be pretty simple to understand.

Andy: Well, and you know, and so certain parts of the country in the winter time is the rainy season, there’s a lot of moisture. What happens with lot of moisture is it also takes some time for things to fully cure out. It’s like that  steamy bathroom situation because of a shower. If things are too moist, there’s nowhere for the moisture in the coating to go. You have to also be considerate of things such as wood. Wood is hydroscopic. Wood is a sponge. It’s going to absorb moisture out of the air. If there’s no moisture in the air for it to absorb, what happens is the moisture in the wood starts to leave and so it starts to dry off the wood and wood will change based upon what the humidity is. So in winter time it’s very dry wood shrinks; in the summertime when it’s very moist, it swells, right? These are all things to keep in mind when you are considering a project this time of year. So other things to consider would heating and ventilating. You certainly wants to be able to either heat the space in the winter time, but as you mentioned, you need to keep the humidity up. Let’s see, I have a whole house of hardwood flooring. A large part of the country HVAC contractors will actually recommend that you install what’s called an April Air system. April Air system is a way to interject humidity back into the air during the drier months. I don’t mind these provided that you are extremely careful with how you use them. All too often I’ve been involved in home inspections where there are mold problems and because somebody just didn’t maintain their humidification system properly and the unit just spews out humidity 12 months a year. If you can manage these systems, they’re very, very good for maintaining a humidity level for all of your wood components as well as comfort factor for breathing. So these items can be used. Just make sure they’re used properly.

Jay: When people are in acceleration mode and maybe we may have mentioned this in another podcast and it just dawned on me that maybe it’s worthy of a comment. The idea of using increasing heat, bringing heat up. Some people will even go as far as to say they want to bake a space. And the other methodology that people sometimes use, and I don’t know this is necessarily about curing things quicker. The use of ozone to manage an installation. I’ve been of the mind that elevated heat and the circulation of controlled air is a smart thing to do. I’m not a big fan of ozone. Where do you stand on that Andy?

Andy: So I’’m a fan of not necessarily elevating heat but keeping heat at a constant level that 70 degrees we’ve talked about. The whole concept of baking out of space was debunked many years ago. Yet it’s a myth that keeps on getting pushed around. Heating up a space to 90 degrees and then opening up the windows to ventilate, has proven to actually cause new chemical compounds to form. And it has the detrimental effect of reducing the lifespan of the products that you’ve used because it accelerates the end of life. So I like to keep a space at 70 degrees. Anything above that is a waste and can cause more serious problems down the road. Ventilation though is key. Making sure you have good air movement. It helps coatings cure. It helps the aromas that can occur during a construction project. It alleviate some of those. The use of purification systems, whether it’s an air scrubber or a negative air machine just to get the dust out to get any pollutants out. Ozone… I have mixed opinions on ozone. Ozone is a very effective way of purifying the air. However, it’s not good to use ozone to purify the air when you still have coatings curing because at a molecular level it can change the overall finish.The second thing is if, you know you’re in a situation where you have a high amount of formaldehyde, so let’s say, it’s a project where for some reason or another you could not avoid the use of particle board or plywood that has a high amount of formaldehyde, ozone usage in that situation can actually cause a bigger problem: when breaking down formaldehyde it can cause some other noxious odors to be created.

Jay: So going geeky again here Andy, the geek is coming up and this is good stuff. This is good.

Andy: Well, I’m going to stop it there. I just think that because I don’t want to go too far in that direction because I can actually argue both sides of that equation. But in that situation, I’m just not a fan of it. I like ozone in a controlled way where you can, turn up, turn down, turn off. You know, the rule of thumb with ozone is if you have something on your furnace or AC unit that creates it, as long as you know how to turn it off… if you can smell it, it’s up too high. That’s the real rudimentary way of putting it. But for controlling odors during a construction project, not a good idea. I think that there are better ways to do it that are more effective.

Jay: Yeah. Well, I think maybe we’ve talked ourselves through winter almost.

Andy: I think so. What it comes down to folks is the same thing we had in summertime. Anytime you have a project, it’s always about planning.

Jay: Yes.

Andy: Making sure you’ve got the time to do it. If you don’t have the time to do it, then choose another time.

Jay: Yep. I think that’s, I think that’s wisdom right there.

Andy: And also folks keeping in mind that whoever your supplier is for materials across the country understand that a lot of the products that we deal with and others deal with can be effected freezing temperatures and negatively affected by freezing temperatures.

Jay: Yes, yes, yes.

Andy: Always make sure you have enough time for the delivery of these materials. So planning is key. If you have any questions about that, always talk to somebody, don’t just buy something online and then find out the hard way. It’s not the right product. It’s going to come frozen. So on and so forth. Always talk to an individual who understands what you are trying to achieve.

Jay: And stay on top of those tracking numbers that you get. Because as things this time of year, especially the delivery people, they are rushing up and they’re landing on the doorstep. They’re not knocking on the door and I’m looking for a signature. They’re going to drop it off. And if you’re not aware of what it’s going to arrive and it sits on your porch overnight and freezes, guess what?

Andy: Overnight? I’ve had situations before where somebody complained they never got their package and we shipped out a new one. Come to find out in spring when the snow melted. They found it behind the bushes. So yes, you’re exactly right. But yes, always be on top of that stuff again, reach out, call somebody if you have any questions.

Jay: Yeah, folks, thanks for listening. Next week’s Thanksgiving, we’ll be back next week with another show and we’ll be wishing you all a wonderful holiday. Andy, what do you want to say in closing?

Andy: It’s good to be back. You know, I missed it. I was gone for two weeks and it felt like I was gone for a year. It’s great to be back. And folks keep all those good questions coming in. I know Jay and I have been talking about for months now we’ve got these interviews lined up. Well we do. The problem is and some of these have been done already, they’re in the can as we call it in the industry. They’re in the can, but we just haven’t had the time to get things up and out to you all. We appreciate your patience. We love that you listen and you’re such great listeners of the show. If you have a chance, please reach out to iTunes and leave us a rating and a review. We’d love to hear what you think of the show. Actually while we were gone, a couple of great reviews came over and we greatly appreciate that folks that helps other people find the show because it knocks our show up higher in the search results. So we really appreciate that. You can always go to degreeofgreen.com. Leave us a SpeakPipe message if you have a question and we’ll be back again next week. And in subsequent weeks with some fantastic topics!

Jay: So long, everyone.

Andy: Take care.

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NTE Podcast: Navigating Winter Projects

NTE Podcast: On Vacation

Thank you all for listening to the show…Jay and I are on vacation for a couple weeks to recharge.  Today’s episode is just a short synopsis of the year and what to expect from NTE in 2020. We’ll be back to you in a couple weeks!!

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On Vacation

Andy: The busy construction season is starting into wind down and so is the year. So it’s a good time to reflect back on the year a little bit and put some ideas together for what’s to come in 2020 here on Non Toxic Environments. Hey folks, it’s Andy here, by myself this week. Jay’s taking a break and I’ll actually be taking a break myself. This week will be a shorter podcast. I’m headed out of town on a vacation. It’s been a while, been a while since I’ve taken a day off… It’s been been a busy year for us and for everybody, all of our clients, a lot of projects going on, a lot of new homes, a lot of remodeling and thought it’d be a good idea just to kind of reflect back on the year. More so talk about, what we’d like to accomplish in the coming year in 2020 and our third season of Non Toxic Environments.

Uh, you know,, it’s hard being a business owner. It’s hard to sometimes to take time off. And I know that everybody always says, you gotta have the work life balance. You have to make sure you take time for yourself. And it’s easier said than done. It’s difficult. Not because customers keep pulling me back in. I certainly don’t want to blame it on all of my listeners and customers and of course not. It’s because I let it happen. I let myself stay here longer and do more and try to do more for more people and, and it’s something I have to work on for next year. Hopefully next year will be a year of being able to be a little more balanced in that. And that’s one thing I’ll be working on.

But Jay, I also have ideas of new series. I know last year I even talked about doing a new series called Degree of Green, which is more of a regular industry show, where I talk about industry news manufacturers, new materials, new projects to focus on instead of being conversational like the show has been now for the last 80 plus episodes. We want to make it more of a news program and that’s still on the docket. That’s still on our list of ideas. It’s just quite honestly, folks, we’ve been overwhelmed somewhat with the success of the show. We’re not the one most popular podcasts on the list. Of course. You know, it’s a very niche topic with a very select group of listeners.

But you all are so loyal in listening that we are historically now in the top 20 to top 30 all time of Home and Garden shows on the podcast networks, which is remarkable for a show that is so niche about healthy homes and better building materials. It’s remarkable that we’re in the 20 and right now I think today, the 24th ranked all time Home and Garden show, which is really more of a testimonial to you all.

So today it’s just a quick show to let you know that we’ll be on vacation, on hiatus, for a couple of weeks. This show, just a quick one just to let you know, next week we will not be recording or releasing anything. The following week we’ll be back in and Jay and I will have some against some great topics. We’ve got a lot of good ideas for next year.

We’re actually interviewing some of our past customers, some folks that we’ve been working with over the year or the last couple of years in remodeling or building. We’re going to be interviewing them for the show so that they can, in their own words, give their story as to how, things went for them and you know, what their pitfalls were,  what to look out for. You know, it’s one thing for Jay and I as professionals to talk about this, but to hear from other homeowners who aren’t in the business, who had to learn everything, from the ground up. I think it’ll be really interesting for you to listen to. And so of course we’ll have other things that we’ll be doing. Again, the show is very conversational. It always has been. Jay and I put, we do put effort into deciding the topics and the things we’re going to talk about but we wanna keep it conversational. We don’t want it to speak from bullet points and we don’t want to just read a blog post that we’ve written because that’s not entertaining. We want to discuss things and talk about timely topics. So, we hope to do more of that next year and we’re really looking forward to another season of Non Toxic Environments. Between now and the end of the year, obviously we have some holidays that are going to get in the way that will also delay some episodes. But we’ll have several more episodes for everybody by the end of the year. Thanks again for listening all year. We appreciate your loyal listenership and and feel free to let families and friends know that our show exists. You know, there’s 80 plus episodes that you’ll, you can search through to find ideas and recommendations for things that happen in your home. We are so happy to be able to do this and, and excited for another fresh season coming in a few weeks. So folks, thank you very much again. We’ll talk to you all very soon.

This episode of Non Toxic Environments is brought to you by the Green Design Center, www.thegreendesigncenter.com. Now, the Green Design Center has been around since 1992 as the nation’s oldest healthy home supplier and we’re featuring a number of products that will be on sale starting in a few weeks for the Black Friday sales. So please be on the lookout for that. Of course, Green Design Center is the national distributor of AFM Safecoat products and is a retailer of thousands of healthy home goods to make your home a healthier and safer place.

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NTE Podcast: On Vacation

NTE Podcast: Plucked straight from the mailbag

By request, Jay and I tackle a few questions from the mailbag this week including, polishing concrete floors, sealing out smoke from the adjacent apartment and paperless drywall usage.  Keep those questions coming in folks!  

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Plucked straight from the mailbag

Andy: Help, I think I have an indoor air quality problem. How do you deal with mold in new construction? And, what do I do if I’m renting? Those items and more on Non Toxic Environments, episode 118.

Welcome back to Non-Toxic Environments, everybody. This is Andy Pace. Thank you so much for listening to another podcast. First off, right off the bat, I’d like to thank everybody who has been leaving reviews and ratings on iTunes and other podcast websites. We really appreciate that. We absolutely love doing this podcast, and I get the feeling that a lot of folks are enjoying listening to it as well, so thank you so much.

Just a quick shout-out to the website at the beginning of the show today, degreeofgreen.com. On the front page top left you’ll see a little microphone. It’s called a SpeakPipe. Please leave us a message. Leave us a question. Today, in particular, we’re answering a bunch of questions from the mailbag, and you never know, your question could get featured on the podcast, and if that happens, Jay and I have these little gifts that we can send out to thank you. So, I really, really appreciate all that feedback.

First off, let’s talk about the first topic we are dealing with, which is, indoor air quality issues, and how do you know you have an indoor air quality problem in the home? And it’s obvious, besides the scratchy throat and itchy eyes and so forth, but a lot of folks will actually complain about that telltale sign of formaldehyde, which is kind of this sweet smell, sweet sensation in the home. Imagine yourself opening up your cabinets and smelling this kind of a sweet funky smell. That’s usually formaldehyde, urea formaldehyde coming from the adhesives. We’re doing a lot of consulting with customers all over the country. The big question we get is, how do you know whether it’s an indoor air quality problem or not?

So, the first thing we’re gonna do is find out if you have made any arrangements with a local building biologist to do some testing in your house. If you’re interested, I’ll put a link in the show notes so you can find your local building biologist. If there isn’t a building biologist in the area, I’d recommend you hire an indoor air quality scientist, a industrial air hygienist. There are a number of names for these folks, but they can all do air testing to determine the chemicals in the air, if there’s active mold, specifically then formaldehyde.

I’ll also recommend another service if you do not have somebody locally or you just don’t have the time or quite honestly, don’t have the budget for it. A lot of times the professionals can charge in the hundreds, if not $1,000 or more to test your air. We work with a product that’s called a prism test, and once again, I’ll put a link in the show notes. You can actually purchase these if you go to degreeofgreen.com/aircheck, A-I-R-C-H-E-C-K, aircheck. And, you’ll be linked to the company Prism Analytical, and from there you can purchase VOC tests, formaldehyde tests, mold tests, even a test for latent cigarette smoke. If you are worrying that the home you just purchased or the apartment you just rented, the previous owners were smokers, you can actually perform a test to determine if any of those chemicals are stilled in the air. This is really important, as we move along here, because there’s 2,000 different chemicals in a cigarette and who knows what else it combines with in the air once it releases? So, go to degreeofgreen.com/aircheck and order your Prism Analytical test today.

So, after your prism test is done, you now have your results that’ll get emailed to you, and what are we looking for? Well, we’re looking for what is the chemicals that are present. Do you have active mold spores in the air? And, what levels are we at? I recommend that once you get these tests, and if you’re one of our consulting clients, email it over to me and we can certainly take a look at it. But, now that you know what’s in the air it makes it a heck of a lot easier to actually fix the problem. We don’t know if a problem exists until we actually can see the data. We trust that you’re sensing something, but we don’t wanna just throw darts and waste money and try to fix a problem that we don’t really know where it occurs. Once we’ve got that, now we can move on to solving that problem. So, I hope that helps, I appreciate the numerous calls we’ve gotten on that subject.

Andy: All right, question number two comes to us from Lynchburg, Virginia, Joanne. It has to do with how do you maintain your indoor air quality. What do you do if you are not buying a house or if you don’t own a house, but if you’re a renter? And, for that, I’m actually gonna have my partner Jay Watts talk to us about that. He’s got some great ideas. So, here you go.

Jay: Hello, everyone. Jay Watts here. In previous podcasts, my Healthy Home Building partner, Andy Pace and I have discussed strategies for building or remodeling to create a healthy home, but what if you don’t own your own home? Many of you listening may be renters, without the control to ensure that the apartment you occupy or the one you’re considering, is as safe for you and your family as possible.

Here are some tips I’ve developed to guide you in living healthfully as a renter. Searching in the best location. Location, location, location. Yes, it’s an old cliché when looking for a place to establish a business, but it’s just as important when seeking an apartment. Obviously, budgets dictate where you can live but consider these basics. Reduce your commute. Less driving means less stress, and less stress must be a part of your healthy living program. Go high, not low. If you aren’t restricted to living on a ground floor, it’s always best to rent an upper unit. Reduced neighbor noise, better air flow and better views all make sense with an upper unit. Here’s a basic one, avoid flight paths and electric grid yards. That’s very simple to understand. Greener is better. Look for places with mature trees and greenery. Obviously, gentle on the eyes and provide healthier air quality. Of course, if you’re allergic to certain plants take that into consideration in your search.

So, you feel like you’ve narrowed it down to one or two places. Now, it’s time to meet the landlord. But, before you do, ask these questions by telephone or email. Was the unit remodeled within the last three months? New paint, carpeting, flooring, and cabinet rehab are often what owner do to attract new tenants. But, for someone looking for a healthier place, these improvements aren’t necessarily welcome. An honest and open discussion with the landlord about your need for a healthy haven should be at the forefront of your negotiations. For those of you who are chemically sensitive, a remodeled apartment would not be acceptable without some serious remediation.

This is obvious, but I would offer another way of reframing that statement about chemical sensitivity. People are more familiar and comfortable with the idea of allergies, so instead of admitting to suffering from MCS, say you’re highly allergic to new construction materials. Even provide a list of those products that could pose problems for you. If everything else about the unit fits your plan, ask the landlord what they would allow you to do to make the space healthier. A safe coat of paint or a safe sealer, and a good steam cleaning of carpeting can mitigate many indoor air quality problems.

Ask about your neighbors. As a landlord myself, I can tell you most applicants never ask about the neighbors. I always tell prospects as much as I reasonably know about my other tenants. As a new neighbor, it’s comforting and helpful when you do cross paths, and that basic knowledge can be a great conversation starter, too.

Okay, let’s assume the landlord is amenable to your modifications. Set a timeline for completing the work, making allowances for the curing cycle necessary with the new products. Two to three weeks after the work is completed is recommended before you take possession. Always look for products with a long track record of successful use by anyone with allergies or chemical sensitivities as the priority in their manufacturing. Many landlords will allow modifications within reason, as long as you pick up the added expense. Some may even underwrite a change if they really want you as a tenant.

If there are no options to making changes, think about investing in a whole home air purification system. The better ones will be more expensive, but how much is your health worth to you? Me? I think, priceless, and they are portable, so they can move when you do. Taking control by empowering yourself is the key in all these recommendations. If an owner is antagonistic or won’t allow changes, then you need to move on.

Finally, if you’re fortunate enough to know someone moving, and you think you want their unit, contact the owner as soon as possible and tell them you’re interested, preferring that they not upgrade. You benefit as does the landlord who doesn’t incur the added expense. If they’re intent on making modifications, suggest they start with a list you provide of the safest alternatives. In the short term, this benefits you and gives the owner a sales story to attract tenants in the future.

So, there you have it. Most of what I shared is just good common sense, but renting can be stressful. If you’re prepared to diligently qualify the landlord and the apartment as much as they are you, you can feel secure knowing that a healthy home may be just around the corner.

Andy: Thank for that story, Jay, appreciate it. I love the fact that Jay mentions telling the landlord that you have allergies to certain building materials, certain chemicals. You know, folks, I know those that have severe sensitivities sometimes cringe when we simplify the problem, simplify the disease to call it just an allergy, and we don’t necessarily mean to do that, to belittle the situation. More so we’re doing it to try to get others to understand what it is. When you’re looking to rent a space, now’s not the time to try to educate a new potential landlord about this disease that you have. Now’s the time to get them to understand quickly that you just have an allergy to these chemicals, and move on from there. It’s just much easier to understand for folks who really don’t know what’s going on, and as Jay put it, you don’t wanna necessarily scare ’em off right away. So, great stuff, Jay, thank you.

All right, the final question for the day comes to us from Steve in Sacramento, and Steve has asked a number of questions to me over the last few months about how to reduce mold in a whole house remodeling that he’s doing. Kind of hard to answer on a podcast, even if I took a couple of hours. It’s kind of hard to answer because mold is such a problem all across the country in construction that we really need to drill down to the facts of the actual project and what are we dealing with before we can give our best recommendation.

But let me give you four things that I tell every client when that topic arises. The first thing is, whatever the framing system that you’re using for the home, again, whether it’s new construction, remodeling, what have you, whatever the framing system is, if it’s standard stick framing, wood stick framing, if it’s insulated concrete form, so forth, whatever you’re using, button it up as soon as you can. What you don’t want is to have a lot of openings in the walls for doors and windows or even if you’re doing an addition where you have to add a roof on the new piece, the new part.

You don’t wanna have those open to the elements to allow rain and just moisture to soak into the new wall assembly, because then it has to get out, and the reason why mold is such a problem these days is that we build these homes so tight to allow for very minimal moisture transmission, and the use of building wraps and vapor barriers, and so forth. And moisture gets stuck in that cavity wall and when you have moisture, when you have condensation from maybe insulation that wasn’t properly detailed, or a thermal issue where you have warm air in the wintertime that travels from the drywall into the studs and hits cold temperature from the outside, because things weren’t detailed properly, and you can get condensation, and then you’ve got a food source for mold and then mold can proliferate. So, if you can get rid of a lot of that moisture to start with, or to keep it from getting into that wall assembly, that’s the number one point.

Number two, reduce excess moisture in the home during construction. So, I really advocate for during the drywalling, mudding, priming and painting phase, to bring in either an air scrubber or an air exchange system. You can rent these from locations across the country. Bring these industrial air scrubbers or ventilation systems into the house to expel a lot of this excess moisture. Again, the average new home that’s built has probably 500 to 600 gallons of moisture in the air that gets locked into the cavity wall or the flooring, what have you, just from the construction process. So, if you can expel a lot of this at the time of it occurring, it’s less likely for that moisture to travel into the wall and then help to feed that mold. And again, mold is prevalent everywhere. Mold is always in the air, so it’s not that we’re trying to prevent mold per se, we’re trying to prevent the proliferation, and the growth of damaging toxic mold. So, reduce the excess moisture in the house.

Brings me to part number three. You gotta get the furnace system, the HVAC up and running as soon as the home is buttoned up. Again, for new home construction or for whole house remodeling, as soon as the wall and the roof are weather tight, you gotta get the HVAC running, and here’s why, because of that excess moisture. Like I talked about before, with all this moisture in the air, and I’m recording this podcast in July and here in Wisconsin in July it’s about 90 degrees and about 80% relative humidity. If I were to apply a coat of Safecoat paint on my walls it’d probably take a couple of days for it to not feel tacky to the touch, and potentially much longer for it to reach a full cure. And the reason is, is that the curing process of paint is the moisture evaporating out of the liquid coating to help create the film. If the humidity level is at 80% there’s nowhere for the moisture to go, so it just stays in there.

So, you’ve gotta bring down the relative humidity in the house and that is installing your AC unit, installing fans, using those air exchange systems or the air scrubbers. But, definitely running the AC during the crucial parts of the process will make a big difference in cutting down the possibility of the mold.

And finally, this is something that’s relatively new to us. I’ve known about this product for over 10 years, and it kind of went by the wayside and I think they entered an agreement with a large manufacturer and it just kind of went away and now it’s come back to us. It’s a product called Caliwel. Caliwel is a coating that’s made with a high degree, a high percentage of calcium hydroxide, which is lime, a mineral, ground-found mineral. Calcium hydroxide raises the Ph of the surface to such a high level that mold cannot sustain itself. It raises the Ph to about 12 and a half, 13, and it keeps it that high for up to five years, and that’s really what’s really amazing about this product.

So, I recommend that you use the Caliwel. It’s called their Caliwel Industrial Coating. Use that in the cavity wall of your new construction, or your whole house remodeling, and so let’s just take traditional stick framing as our example, because this is what’s done most of the time. So, after the exterior wall is framed, your exterior sheathing gets installed. That’s your OSB typically sheathing that’s installed. And then on the inside, typically you install or put in your insulation. And so before you put your insulation in I’d recommend you spray on, if you can, two coats of the Caliwel Industrial. Caliwel Industrial will kill any mold spores on contact, and then it’ll stay active for up to five years, killing off any mold spores that may attach itself to that, or try to attach to that surface. And the reason why that’s important is because in new construction or in a whole house remodeling project, if you’re gonna have a mold problem in the exterior wall, it happens usually within the first 12 to 24 months.

So, other areas that you may consider using this Caliwel Industrial, basement walls. If the basement walls are either concrete or concrete block, I’d make sure that the walls are clean and then apply a couple of coats of the Caliwel Industrial. Again, it’s gonna kill off mold spores and keep it from coming back for up to five years. Caliwel also makes what they call a Home and Office paint, which is a finish paint, comes in about eight or 10 colors. It’s a great product, don’t get me wrong, it just doesn’t come in a lot of good colors. It’s very light pastel-y colors. Definitely use this in, let’s say, bathrooms where you know you have a ventilation problem, because mold happens in a bathroom mainly because there’s poor ventilation and there’s always a food source, dead skin cells and soap scum and so forth.

Then the last place that I like to use the Caliwel Industrial is the attic, because attics generally, if you have poor detailing in your home for air tightness, so you have a lot of air leakage because of a bathroom ceiling fan, because of recessed can lights, other penetrations through the ceilings and to the attic, and that’s how heat and moisture or cold temperature and moisture can travel, and you get condensation and then you get mold. So, I like using the Caliwel up there as well. It really cuts down on the possibility. I guess I look at it as a very inexpensive insurance policy to prevent mold problems in the future.

So, that’s it. That’s their four points that I give everybody. Folks, there are dozens of ways, probably hundreds of ways, that we can eliminate mold in new construction and remodeling, but those are the four areas that I really think that, if we just did those, it would make a world of difference in all of our homes. And, well, that’s the least we can do, I believe.

So, we got a little more time so I’m gonna answer one more question, and this is a question I get a dozen times a day. Okay, I’ll just jump right into it, here we go. “Andy, loving the information. Love all the recommendations you have given me. Why didn’t I know about you two years ago when I built my home? Or, why did I know about you last week?” I get this question, I can’t tell you how often every day. First off, I’m humbled that folks appreciate my recommendations and can really use these ideas and by experience to better their indoor air quality and better their homes.

But, don’t stress yourself. This is what I tell everybody when they ask that question, “Why didn’t I know about you?” Or, “I wish I knew about you two years ago.” My answer is, “Well, now you do.” From this point forward … don’t beat yourself up about decisions you made before you knew that there were better decisions to make. I get a lot of customers that have built homes, let’s say, in the last 10 years, and they just wish they knew more about this when they built their homes. I don’t want you to start ripping things out and replacing it right away, because I think that’s possibly throwing the baby out with the bathwater here.

Keep in mind that most things like paints and coatings off gas for about two and a half to four and a half years after they reach a full cure. Other materials like plywood and OSB and MDF and these other manmade products, insulation, carpet, can off gas a lot longer than that, of course, but don’t repaint your house right away because you think you might have a problem. Don’t start ripping things out and replacing. Let’s be mindful of this. Let’s figure out a good plan of attack. Understand that maybe everything was fine in your home up until the point where you found out that there could have been a healthier way to go. And sometimes … you know, the mind is a very powerful thing, sometimes that can immediately bring a reaction to the oh, no, what did I do. and now I sense something in my house.

So, again, understand that if you lived in that home for the last 10 years, and you haven’t had any problems, that’s great. Just understand that from this point forward you can make healthier choices when you need to replace or repair something. We offer those choices, either through Green Design Center, through Jay’s company AFM, just a variety of companies around the country that just make or sell some really good high quality healthy building materials. But, please don’t get upset that you missed out on something. So, now that you know that there are healthier options, when it’s time to change the carpet, when it’s time the wall color, install new cabinetry or countertops, you can reach out to me now and just do degreeofgreen/appointment, and book yourself a 15-minute or a 30 minutes consultation and we can go through a lot of these questions you have. It’s amazing how many questions we can get through in a 15-minute period.

That’s your best plan of attack. Don’t fret over something that’s already happened. Let’s just move on from this point. So, I hope I answered that question all right. Again, I am humbled that people actually have that feeling, when they learn that there are healthier ways to go and they wish they would have known about me years ago. I love what I do. You can probably tell by this podcast how much I enjoy helping people out in allowing them to live in a healthier home.

So, that is it for the podcast for this week, folks. Please go to degreeofgreen.com, leave us a SpeakPipe message. We’d love to hear from you. We’d love to feature one of your questions on one of the future podcasts. Also, go to iTunes. I would be greatly appreciative if you would leave us a rating, give us a five-star review. We’re trying to get bumped up on the iTunes New and Noteworthy list. I don’t know how that works, honestly. It’s way above the amount of listeners that we have, I think, but you never know. If we could just get a few more ratings, a few more reviews, it would be greatly appreciated and I think it also helps people who are searching for shows on iTunes. The shows that are highly rated and have more reviews are bumped up to the top of the search engines. So, there you have it. That’s why we’d like for you to do that.

So, that’s it again for this week, and we will talk to you again next week. Have a healthy day, folks.

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NTE Podcast: Plucked straight from the mailbag

NTE Podcast: Common Misconceptions

You’ve heard this from your contractor, or maybe read it in an online chat group.  “That glue will never work” , “that paint only peeled because its one of those eco-friendly paints”…   Today, I’m talking about common misconceptions of the healthy building industry and I try to shed some light on these topics and allow you to breathe easy, knowing you DID make the right decision. 

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Common Misconceptions

Your product doesn’t work that way. I just assumed or I just thought, or how come this can’t… Forget it folks. Today we’re going to talk about common misconceptions in the green building world, both from anticipating the material arriving to an application, and longevity. So it’s going to be a quick episode on misconceptions here on Non Toxic Environments.

Hello folks, welcome back to the show. This is Andy. I am by myself this week. Jay is taking a break and he’ll be back with us next week. This episode is a little different. Well I say that every week. I think it’s a little different. We try to make them different to make them exciting, interesting for the listeners. This episode is kind of a mishmash of what I will call common misconceptions of the industry. And it’s kind of a, you know, misconceptions of how products work, how they are used, how they’re sold and received. It’s kind of a combination of both material use , availability, and the industry itself. And so in, let me start off with the biggest misconception. I believe, and I’m not gonna spend too much time on this one because, well quite honestly we’ve, we’ve talked about this quite a bit before, so I don’t need to belabor the point, but the misconception that I have to speak about most often is that zero VOC is equivalent to healthy and safe. Now I will say this, I have to bring this topic up far less than I ever have before. Our show is doing a wonderful job at informing those who are interested in healthier materials, that there is a difference between green and healthy; that there is a difference between zero VOC and zero toxin. And so I believe that the industry, the marketplace is starting to evolve finally in this direction.

When we were in the midst of the green building, boom, I’ll call it in the mid 2000s. And people were buying product that was considered air quotes “green” just for the sake of being able to tell their neighbors and their family and friends I bought a countertop made of recycled this and recycled that. It was the trendy thing to do as the construction economy shrunk, with the last recession, those available dollars to buy those things obviously shrunk. And as the funds are coming back into the market, people are a lot more concerned about how they’re spending those dollars. And, the wise choice is to buy a product that is of course environmentally friendly, but more importantly is healthier for the occupants. There has to be a bigger benefit than just doing the right thing.

And so that misconception of zero VOC is good, is really starting to sort of answer itself. And you’re finding that now with even the paint and coating manufacturers starting to change their verbiage. A lot of it has to do with mandates. The paint companies were told… several of them were fined by the FTC in the last couple of years for essentially duping the public about how VOCs are calculated, how they are tested for and if they’re actually affecting the user and manufacturers have to by law now change the way they say things. And it’s good. It’s, it’s giving more disclosure and it’s being more open and honest to everybody about what the products can and cannot do. The downside though is that there’s still this element of it being the wild west out there. And I’ll take for instance, something like carpeting.

Carpeting is being sold by many manufacturers now as being zero VOC. And I hate to break it to you folks, but you know, the chemicals that are found in carpeting typically aren’t VOCs and haven’t been VOCs because they are what are called exempted VOC compounds. So they’ve never had to be listed. You know, the smell that people refer to as that carpet smell is a chemical called trichloroethylene. And that also makes up part of the styrene butadiene rubber backing; that is actually an unregulated VOC. So it was never actually listed as one before. And so putting zero VOC on a piece of carpet is akin to calling it gluten free or fat free. It really doesn’t matter. It still contains the toxins, but they never had been VOCs. So that’s the common misconception that I deal with on a regular basis and so I don’t need to go into that much further.

Alright. Misconception number two, this is something that I deal with again fairly regularly is, the call or an email from a customer saying I was doing my research and I read on a Facebook group that AFM Safecoat paint peels off the walls, or Benjamin Moore Natura paint peels off the walls or, you know, insert the manufacturer here. So the common misconception here is that just because a paint is considered healthier, safer, lower VOC, green, you name it, that it doesn’t actually work as well as the old fashioned toxic stuff. Now, interestingly enough, there are some applications that this would be true. VOCs for what they, they are volatile organic compounds. While some are dangerous to humans, some are completely harmless, but what they usually do when inserted into a coating is give the ability for the paint to bond under duress and under bad situations. It just gives it the ability to be a bit more goof proof. And taking these ingredients out of paints makes it so that you have to be a little more exact in in your application and your preparation. So I get this call a time that says that, you know, I was going to use Safecoat, but then I read on this Facebook group that Safecoat didn’t work for this one person and peeled right off the walls and don’t ever use this product. And with a quick 30 seconds of searching, you’ll find that just about every paint manufacturer you can think of has been named on some Facebook group, some talk, you know, chat group, for doing the exact same thing. And why is that? Well, it’s because people don’t want to believe that either their contractor or themselves didn’t follow directions or didn’t prepare surfaces properly.

They always want to believe that when there’s a problem on site that it must’ve had to do with the product because the product was the only difference. The homeowner can say, listen, I’ve been painting for 30 years. I don’t know how often they paint. Of course, you know, if you’re using good product, you’d only, I should have to paint once in that 30 years. But I digress. Let’s say they paint every five years and they’ve always used different brands of paint. And the very last time they painted, they used Safecoat and they had problems. The paint peeled… I can see how if you weren’t a professional and if you are interested in and trying to find, you know, the boogeyman on this now that’d be the manufacturer. That must’ve been something wrong with the paint. And then I get a phone call saying that there’s a problem; what happened here? And find out that, well actually the problem was that the last time you painted you didn’t wash the walls before you applied paint and now that all paint has to be lower zero VOC in those solvents we’ve talked about that do certain things, it’s a bit more crucial that the walls are washed.

Maybe you’re a family that does a lot of cooking and cooking oils and greases can get into the air. And as that smoke from cooking attaches to a wall, it carries with it little droplets of oil. And if you don’t wash that off, it’s quite possible that if you’d paint over it, the paint would peel off. Or if it’s a bathroom, if you didn’t wash the walls. Or if it’s new dry wall. And you know, the drywall contractor mudded and taped and sanded all the, all the drywall joints but didn’t vacuum off properly all the dust from that process, maybe you painted right over dust that isn’t actually locked into the wall and therefore the paint just peels off as the dust falls off. There’s a myriad of reasons why paint would peel off of the surface. The one thing that’s true in just about every situation that happens though is that it’s not the paints fault paint has one job and that is to coalesce, create a film.

Now, if it creates a film on a surface, that’s what it really should do. But if that surface is not conducive to adhesion or to bonding, what happens is it’s like trying to stick paint to a sheet of glass. It shrinks and grabs and creates that film, but it’s not really bonded to the surface. So if you, if you got an edge and you started peeling it, it would come off like a sheet of dead skin. And that’s usually the telltale sign that the surface was not prepared properly. And misconception is that there’s something wrong with the paint. And this a problem that every paint manufacturer deals with. It’s almost never a problem with a paint. It’s a problem with the surface preparation. So I don’t want to beat that one and in further than I have.

Let’s see, misconception number three for today. This one came up just recently, a client came into the showroom and said, we’re looking at buying bamboo floors because they’re trying to find the healthiest flooring materials available. This misconception is not something that I hear too often lately because bamboo as a flooring material, it was trendy for awhile and now it’s starting to go away from the trend. The trend is going back towards wood; but there’s still that feeling out there that if I’m going to do something that’s really green for my house that’s really ecofriendly and healthy, I’m going to buy bamboo floors. Well, just because it’s bamboo does not mean any of those are true. Bamboo is a commodity as a raw material. And you have to really trust the source that it comes from in order to believe and know for sure that it’s gonna meet some of those environmental and health benefits you’re looking for.

But the fact that it’s just bamboo does not mean any of those are just true automatically. So if you’re looking for let’s say, a very environmentally friendly wood type flooring material, I could probably argue that material that’s harvested selectively and delivered down from Northern Wisconsin to Southern Wisconsin is probably more environmentally friendly than a container load of bamboo that’s being shipped over from China. And that’s where all bamboo is manufactured. I can also say on the flip side that bamboo that is plied together using formaldehyde free adhesives that don’t off gas would probably be healthier than wood that’s manufactured locally, that uses urea formaldehyde based what glues. So there’s a trade off, um, and you have to really look for the products that meet the criteria you’re trying to meet. But just, you cannot assume because it’s this or that, that it’s going to meet that set of criteria. You really have to work with your local supplier and ask the right questions. Again, just because bamboo is considered eco-friendly and healthy doesn’t actually mean it is.

All right, the last misconception I want to talk about today is that products that are healthy and eco-friendly just cannot work as well as the old fashioned toxic materials. Now I touched on this a little bit earlier when talking about VOCs and peeling paints… In certain situations, the old fashioned ingredients that are used for all types of building and home related goods, work better than what’s being offered to us now. In some situations. Actually very rarely is this the case. Take into consideration things like exterior paint. The old timers will say you’ve got to use an oil based primer and oil based paint for exterior wood. Well, there hasn’t been an innovation in the oil based paint industry in about 25 years. All research and innovation is going into the waterborne products. Why? Well, because they’re healthier, they’re safer. And in most cases they actually work better. But the misconception is that you’ve got to use an oil base in order for it to work.

Another one that we see quite often is the misconception that these green adhesives don’t work and the green caulking materials don’t work. And I am here to tell you that materials that we get from AFM, from Chemlink, these materials are incredibly good and they work wonderfully well. Matter of fact, I’d put them up against any product on the market for what they’re designed to do. And just because they’re considered environmentally friendly or healthier does not mean at all that you’re going to lose any performance with these materials.

But yet we’ve got to answer those questions on a regular basis from customers because their contractor said this and their contractor said that. The thing about the industry is that contractors have amazing experience in what they are used to using. And you pay for the good contractors. You paid dearly because they know what they’re doing, they can get the job done in a set amount of time. They make the project look great, but they are so strapped for time to do research on new innovations that they almost always just use what they’ve used before because they know it works. I certainly can’t slight them for this; that old saying that time is money and if they’re losing time, just doing research and trying out new products, they’re losing money. And a lot of these companies they just can’t afford to do that.

So, um, they have to trust when a supplier like myself or others across the country are saying, I know it seems like it’s not gonna work, but trust me, it’ll work. It’ll work just fine. And, um, you know, most often they’re, they’re pleasantly surprised and you hope from this point forward they might consider using healthier, safer materials for their next job.

All right. That is it for the show this week on common misconceptions. Thanks again for joining me and Jay and I would back next week with another episode of Non Toxic Environments. And once again, folks, we’d love it if you’d go to iTunes and hit subscribe, tell your family and friends about this. We are still one of the fastest growing shows in the lineup of podcasts as it relates to healthy homes. Really exciting for us in the home and garden section. We’ve been consistently about the 20th, the 30th ranked show all of podcasts in North America. So we are extremely, extremely excited about that. And it’s all because of you listening to us giving us ideas for future shows. So thanks again for listening everybody and have yourself a wonderful, wonderful weekend. Take care.

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NTE Podcast: Common Misconceptions

NTE Podcast: Is Chemical Sensitivity All in Your Head??

How many time have you heard THAT line…Its not real, its just in your head.  Well today, Jay and I are taking on this topic directly and we’ll actually prove that this statement is partially true.  Just because something smells bad, doesn’t mean it IS bad.  I expect this episode to get a lot of feedback, so please let us know what YOU think.  

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Is Chemical Sensitivity All in Your Head??

Andy: Chemical sensitivity. It’s all in your head. I’m sure you’ve been told that a few times in your life today. Jay and I are going to talk about this myth, but is it really a myth? There might be some reality to this where you have a fear of a reaction, therefore you actually have a reaction. So today on Non Toxic Environments, Jay and I are going to talk about this controversial topic and we’ll get to some customer questions. Jay, welcome back to the show this week. You know, it’s going to be a little bit different. Both of us are feeling like we’re coming down with a cold.

Jay: Yeah, thanks for the advice on taking care of that Andy. Appreciate it.

Andy: Well, load up on vitamin C to the point that it’s… You’ve had too much. Okay. I won’t describe how you know this. The other thing is I love the Fire Cider products and not only just the brand Fire Cider, but the homemade products as well. It’s apple cider vinegar with honey, a whole host of ingredients that are really good for heating up the body and getting it to start to take care of itself.

Jay: Well, what’s the body chemistry in terms of pH and acidity? What’s the… because that just popped into my head. Is the idea that we want to take our body to be a little more alkaline? I mean, that’s kind of generally the idea anyway. So we want to run our body. Our body chemistry wants to be alkaline, not acidic. And most of us run acidic body chemistry.

Andy: Well, and there’s a lot of information out there about using alkaline water.

Jay: Right? Which I do.

Andy: We work with a brand of water filtration systems that turns water into alkaline water. And you know, there’s a lot of these technologies out there, folks that I think that they need to be studied more. I can’t say for sure they’re great and they’re all going to work. I think anything’s worth a try. Neither Jay nor I claim to be physicians. We we’re not trying to give medical advice whatsoever but I think it’s worth trying some of these things and when it comes to just the common cold utilizing in the apple cider vinegar with a habanero and turmeric and honey, usually does the trick with me.

Jay: Yeah. And it gives you a nice little… it’s got a good bite to it too. Well, I think what you’re alluding to Andy, I think is true and I think people are aware of this now. You know, there’s more than just the Western model of medicine that we can take a look at and explore. And I think it’s really worth to everyone listening that you do, that you explore the modalities that are out there and available to you. So a lot of, there’s a lot of good information, there’s a lot of good things that are happening outside of the Western allopathic medical model. And so I’m encouraged to explore that on your own and decide what works best for you. So we’re going to talk about today, one of the things that we’ve talked about, as long as the podcast has been running in that is chemical sensitivity.

Andy: Right. And I guess, you know, the preceding message about you and I both kind of feel like we’re coming down to go with a cold here is to talk a little bit to medicine and medical issues. And again, folks, we are not physicians, but Jay and I both have been around this world for many, many years, in the world of chemical sensitivity. And you know, each of us have thousands and thousands of clients we’ve worked with and all of those clients have been able to educate us about this. And the topic that we wanted to discuss today is something that we may have alluded to in previous episodes, but it’s been encouraged to us by a number of listeners lately that we should actually bring it up on the show. And I don’t want to turn this into a discussion of, you know, again, medical ideas and practices and so forth. What I wanted to talk about is the fact that in chemical sensitivity or with the chemical sensitivity, it is well known but never really talked about that there is actually having a physical reaction to a chemical, a product that was brought into a room. You know, where this is going, but there’s also having a physical reaction due to the mind telling you to have a physical reaction. And so…

Jay: And that is just the body’s natural tendency to fight or flight. Isn’t that a part of that mechanism where the body is getting some signals and then the body’s injecting or releasing chemicals into the body to react to that in one way or the other?

Andy: Correct.

Jay: And adrenaline as such.

Andy: Let me break it down a little bit more for everybody. Um, you walk into a building and you smell a chemical or a chemical like odor or a fragrance that you don’t recognize. For those who have been suffering with chemical sensitivity for any period of time, instantly start to fear the unknown because you’re used to those odors equating a physical reaction with the body, right? So because of that, your mind says, Oh, here we go. And it causes an adrenaline response that fight or flight mode and your body can actually have a physical reaction to the fear of the unknown. So I bring this topic up very gingerly because I’m not trying to say that chemical sensitivity is psychosomatic or it’s all in your head because folks, you’ve all heard that for how many years now from your own physicians when you first started to figure out what was going on. And so the last thing I want to do is agree with those those comments, because that’s not what I’m saying at all. What I’m saying, however, is as what has been, described to me by the late Dr. Rea, by my own physician here locally Dr. Toth, and other physicians I’ve talked to across the country that the body can actually have a reaction to the fear of the unknown and it will mimic a typical reaction to a chemical or a fragrance. Does that make sense, Jay?

Jay: Yeah, Andy, that makes a whole lot of sense. And I think just to backup a little bit for folks I thought it’d be probably worthwhile to give you what a consensus of physicians have described as the definition for chemical sensitivity. This is by the way, the library of medicine, the US library of medicine and this is their 1999 consensus. I’ll just read it. The criteria for chemical sensitivity, 1) a chronic condition 2) with symptoms that recur reproducibly 3) response to low levels of exposure 4} to multiple unrelated chemicals and 5) improve or resolve when incitements are removed. There’s another six criteria that now propose of adding and that is that the symptoms occur in multiple organ systems. So that that’s just kind of a clinical description of what multiple chemical sensitivity is.

Andy: And so, you know, think about this. Again, like I said, you walk into a space and you sense something that you don’t recognize, and then you’d actually have  a reaction to the fear of the unknown.  I would like to relate this to- let’s look at even something like Safecoat paint. One of the things that has been talked about over the years that Safecoat paint actually has a more of a paint smell than some of the other zero VOC paints made by the big companies. Well, why is that? Well, it’s because they use chemical masking agents.

Jay: I went to a conference one time; there was a workshop and it was for contractors and one of the contractors approached our booth and he came up and he said, you know, I don’t really need this stuff. And I said, really? Tell me about that. He says, well, you know, I can actually buy a masking agent and I can and have just put it in the paint I’m using and the client never knows the difference.

Andy: There you go.

Jay: And I was like, Oh boy. Yup. Mind my own…

Andy: It’s kind of an interesting story. Years ago here in Wisconsin, there was a big box store. It wasn’t one we know about it is more local to the upper Midwest and they had a private label paint brand called Ed Dwiggins paint. Well, Ed Dwiggins paints came out with a paint that had a fresh lemon smell. And I remember the commercial, this is just about the time when I started selling Safecoat. So early 90s, and Ed Dwiggins paint, they had this advertising that said, well, if you don’t like the smell of paint then you should love our fresh lemon scent that we put into every gallon. So your room smells fresh and so on and so forth. Well, they took it off the market after about probably about a year. They found out that, first of all, you know, the smell of lemon over the smell of a toxic paint odor just makes for the smell of a toxic lemon paint odor. And they found that that lemon scent that they used actually turn rancid after a period of time.

Jay: Boy, Oh boy.

Andy: So, that was my first exposure, no pun intended, to the use of masking agents, and then as I started to work with Safecoat and other brands of products that we deal with now, I realized that manufacturers mastered the art of taking anywhere from 5 to 15 different chemicals and adding them into products. And it’s kinda like that old adage of yellow plus blue make green? Well one smell plus another smell can actually equal no smell.

There you go.

Andy: And that’s what a chemical masking agent is.

Jay: It’s reminding me also, and this is kind of on the side, when people are using cleaning products and the cleaning products have some kind of fragrance to them. I think it’s, there’s an interesting psychology because with a cleaner, like ours for example, ours is Safechoice All Purpose Cleaner. There’s no smell to it. And there’s an interesting thing that happens with people. They use it, but they don’t smell a clean smell, like a fragrance smell. And they associate that with it being ineffective and that the cleaner can’t possibly be working because I don’t smell that cleaner smell.

Andy: Right. I remember years ago, Jay, I forget which hospital it was that we were working on, and they were using Super Clean, the Safecoat product, and absolutely loved it. But after a period of, I don’t know, maybe a 30 day test period, they said, we love the product, but we’re not gonna use it. And obviously we questioned why and they said, well, the problem is because it doesn’t have that citrus aroma or the pine smell. We can actually smell when our cleaning crews don’t do a good enough job and don’t.. So, those chemicals masking agents that are used not only hide the smell of the cleaner chemicals themselves, but also help in, as you say, giving people that illusion that it’s a freshly clean space. It’s like the smell of new cars. You know, every manufacturer of cars has their own signature aroma. And you know, when you’re getting into a new Ford or a new Chevy or a new Hyundai that it’s that brand because it smells like that brand. And so we’re kind of going off on a tangent onto chemical masking agents. But you know, boiling all this down folks, what this means is that sometimes the mind is a powerful thing. Sometimes the mind is telling the body that there is something wrong, even if there really isn’t something wrong, but the mind is so used to certain triggers that it’s going to cause that same reaction. And so, think back to all the different episodes we’ve done, Jay, and we’ve told people, well before you do the whole job, you should test for personal tolerance, right?

Jay: Right, right.

Andy: Doing a staining job, whatever it is. One of the reasons why you want to test for personal tolerance too is so that you recognize the aromas that are created when you use these products in your home. I had a client many years ago who was building a home and we had her and her husband test every single product that was going into their house. I’m talking all the way down to the screws and the nails holding it together.

Jay: Holy moly.

Andy: And she did the sniff test. And then if she had some reaction, she would take that further to kind of determine what it was. I mean, she really was quite diligent with this. Now side note, people have asked me over the years if I could reproduce that Excel spreadsheet for them so that they had a checklist and I don’t do that because everybody is different. And I don’t want to be in a situation where just because it’s good for one doesn’t mean it’s good for all. But anyway, one of the reasons, or one of the best reasons for doing this was I knew that if she ever walked onto the job site at any given time at part of the process, every odor that would be on site would be something she’s already assessed and recognized and approved. Therefore, there’s no fear. There’s no fear of the reaction. There’s no adrenaline response. There’s no stress. You know, we’ve talked about stress being a huge impact on how our body reacts.

Jay: Completely huge. Yeah. And so she went through the process and the right way because then she could be exposed to something that someone else may go, whoa, what is that? And she’s like, nope, I know what that is. And I’m comfortable with it. I’m not going to have a reaction to it. It’s fine.

Andy: Exactly. Exactly.

Jay: That would be a that would be a good spreadsheet, even though it’s just for her. I’m fascinated with the whole idea of what a screw smells like.

Andy: Well, I don’t know if she actually, I don’t think she actually described the smell. Like she was trying to, you know, be a wine sommelier. Robust yet not overpowering. But I believe it was basically approve, not approve or maybe, and then if it went to a maybe then we’d have to go to some additional testing. In certain situations folks, that’s the only way we can do it. Chemical sensitivity is so different from person to person, yet we all understand if you have one or work within this this world, we all understand what it means. But everybody would describe it about themselves a little bit differently.

Jay: So I think the other side of the, the discussion is all those folks who, and I speak specifically about new families are having children and their whole concept is to try to create a really healthy environment for their new children. And so they’re aware of because there’s a lot of information now out about this. They’re aware of the challenges and exposures that can happen and they want to protect their children from that so that they can be calm, you know, sensitized and have all those, those, those problems that go along with it. Probably what folks are probably thinking, okay, I feel like I’m chemically sensitive now.  do I do? I mean, who do I turn to? Who do I talk to? I mean, I may even have, I have doubt within my own family of my sanity. So, where do I go? We can speak to that a little bit. The field of environmental medicine has grown by leaps and bounds over the years. Andy talked about Dr. William Rae. God bless his soul, he just passed away last year but he actually set up his clinic in Dallas back in 1977 if you can believe that all the way back then. And the whole focus of the practice there is to understand personal chemical sensitivity. You go there for treatment, they figure it through protocols, they figure out what it is you should be staying away from and then, and then you’d come back home with a program to get yourself back in balance. So I’m saying this because, and I haven’t been to their website lately, but my sense is there’s probably some resources on the American environmental health clinic website, American environmental health clinic website. This will be in the show notes anyway. But, there’s probably a resource here for physicians who may be practicing environmental medicine close to you. May be a resource for people if they’re looking to get counseled by someone other than their regular doctor.

Andy: Right. And, you know, I’ve, I’ve spent a lot of time discussing these things, not only with Dr. Rae over the years, with other physicians that I know, Dr who’s been on the show, we hope to have her back on next couple of weeks. I’m not looking to turn this into a whole discussion, but chemical sensitivity is a very, very taxing, draining, disease. Not only for the person who has it, but for the physician who’s trying to treat it. Because it’s very difficult to treat something that you can’t see. And, you know, we see this, right? You go to your doctor, say, I’ve got a pain in my knee. Well, let’s do a x-ray. Let’s do an MRI. Let’s do a CAT scan what are we going to do. And then you still don’t find anything wrong, but I still got that pain. Well, chemical sensitivity is very similar to that. You can’t see it on an x-ray. There’s no really… perfect…

Jay: Diagnostic for it. Yeah, there’s no, there’s no perfect diagnostic for it.

Andy: Right. And I think that a lot of times physicians get really burned out trying to work with folks who have sensitivities because they’ve exhausted all of their ideas and it’s still doesn’t help am so I hear from these clients who these they’ve dealt with seven physicians, you know, three psychologists now they’re onto holistic health care practitioners. And nobody can figure it out. Well, I think what happens is, again, the more you’re involved in this and the more you’re trying to figure it out, and the longer you’re dealing with this, the more cynical a person gets. Like, you know what, nobody’s helping me. Nobody can understand what I’m going through. Nobody can fix this. And everything I come in contact with is killing me. I don’t believe, and I say this with the most respect for everybody who listens to us and who is clients of ours. I don’t believe that is always the case. I don’t believe that everything you come in contact with that has an aroma is actually dangerous. However, I completely understand why you would think that and I completely understand why your body says it is because of that fight or flight response. I don’t want to come across as being that guy, you know? Oh, you don’t believe us folks. If I didn’t believe you, I wouldn’t have been in this industry for close to 30 years.

Jay: Yeah. Amen to that. I feel exactly the same way. So, yeah. So I think it’s just basically telling people, you know, just pay attention but don’t overreact. As you know, as your example of your client who did the, you know, the really thorough test, I think that’s probably the best way for you to get some kind of a handle on this folks, is to do as the duties kind of sampling experiments. Andy says it all the time. You know, it’s a mantra we have here as well knowing because everyone’s different. So within the same family, well, everyone’s different. So you have to be able to test your, own, your own situation in a unique way, and then make your determinations based upon that kind of real world exposure and experience.

Andy: And understand that just because something has a smell or doesn’t have a smell is no indication about the toxicity or any health aspects to it. You know, I’ll give you two examples. Carbon monoxide has no smell, but it’ll kill you. Cooking salmon in the oven smells horrible. It’s not going to kill you. All right. And I use those examples with customers every single day and I get them to chuckle a little bit. And that’s a part of the process too is understanding that we, you know, we can deal with us. But you have to allow yourself to believe this. You have to allow yourself to believe that not every fragrance out there is designed specifically to harm you. And some do. I totally understand that, but some don’t. Not all of them do. Okay. On the flip side, just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s safe either; don’t doubt yourself with essential oils because you know it’s going to help you sleep at night. Well, no, it’s actually gonna cause more harm than good. All right.

Jay: Yeah I think there’s some misconceptions that if it’s all natural it’s potentially all safe too.

Andy: And that’s exactly right.

Jay: And that’s not done. That’s not necessarily the case.

Andy: However, I think we kind of beat this one up. I think we did. I think we did. I think we’ve discussed it enough and folks, again, Jay and I, we are two dedicated people in this world. The last thing we are trying to do is tell you that’s all in your head. We know it’s not, we know it’s not folks, but we also know is that sometimes you need a third party to say, here’s what it could be. And I think if you actually sat down and thought about it would make a lot of sense too.

Jay: Yeah, I think that’s, I think that’s wise advice. Andy.

Andy: So Jay, we got a little extra time today. I’m wanting to maybe throw in some customer questions.

Jay: Yeah, yeah. You’ve got some there. I don’t have any in front of me, but I can probably dive in.

Andy: Well, I got one here, just came across my desk.

Jay: Yeah. Okay, good. That’s fresh.

Andy: This is from Alexandria and she says, “hey guys, we’re having a major issue with black mold growth on our bathroom ceiling and shower curtain. We’re about to purchase a dehumidifier as a temporary option to reduce moisture as that bathroom has no vent out. Which primer or product can you recommend once thoroughly cleaned once we have thoroughly cleaned the mold away. Thanks so much for your help.”

Jay: Black mold on the ceiling of their bathroom?

Andy: Right.

Jay: Well, you know when I hear these things I go… black mold doesn’t just show up overnight.

Andy: Well, here’s the other thing too. Black mold is not all toxic black mold. You know, mold is typically dark.

Jay: Yes. Right. Um, it can come with some other colors, but typically dark.

Andy: Yeah. How many species of mold are found in the home, you know, and not all of them is that that toxic Stachybotrys mold. All right. So I understand that black mold growth on the bathroom ceiling happens because you take a shower, the steam carries with it soap scum and dead skin cells that steam condenses. Rises to the ceiling, sticks to the surface, and then the next time it happens and the next time it happens, all of a sudden you’ve food sources from old. The first thing I’m going to say is, I know it says you don’t have vent. I’m going to say, put one in.

Jay: Right.

Andy: I don’t care what you do at this point to clean the surface, to prime it, to paint it. I don’t care what you do in that bathroom. You will always have problems if you cannot ventilate out the humidity.

Jay: That’s a rule. That’s the… It’s the 11th commandment.

Andy: Right, always ventilate. And so I would love to tell you which primer or product to recommend once you’ve thoroughly cleaned the mold away. You know? But honestly, it’s just throwing money away. It’s going to happen again. It’s going to happen again and again and again until you actually get away to ventilate out the moisture.

Jay: So what it was, so let’s say they go, forget it. There’s no way to do that ventilation. So what’s another way to kind of mitigate this? I mean, how about some hydrogen peroxide? I spray hydrogen peroxide in my walk in shower weekly. I don’t have a problem and I got a ton of grout too, ton.

Andy: Yeah, but that’s a different situation. A walk in shower spraying hydrogen peroxide in the shower where you have tile and grout is different than having mold growth on a painted bathroom ceiling.

Jay: Right, right. But I’m just saying… if you think you can’t ventilate, Andy, what am I going to do? What am I going to do? What am I going to do?

Andy: Here’s what you’re going to do. All right? You’re going to get a fan and you’re going to blow a fan into the bathroom from the hallway, which is going to cause currents. It’s going to eventually ventilate our push out the moisture. All right?

Jay: Okay. All right.

Andy: It’s not convenient.

Jay: No.

Andy: It’s not attractive.

Jay: No.

Andy: But it works. You could use a dehumidifier too, but that takes too long. You need fans, you need air movement, and then you do have to address the surfaces once you’ve cleaned them off. And for that, I’d recommend on the ceiling, putting a couple of coats of the Caliwel Home & Office product because as things happen, again, if you, if you’re not running the fan often, you’re not, you don’t find a way to ventilate. You’re going to get mold build up again. And at least using the Caliwel Home & Office paint that’s going to eliminate mold spores because it kills them on contact.

Jay: Well, that’s a good way to go.

Andy: Okay.

Jay: That’s a good way to go.

Andy: But you know, yes. Ventilate.

Jay: Ventilate the 10th, the 11th commandment. Well, I think we’ve kind of wrapped it up for today, haven’t we?

Andy: I think so. I think so. Folks, as always, if you have any questions, have any comments, please reach out to us. You can email me [email protected], go to iTunes or wherever you listen to this show. And if you can leave us a rating and a review, we greatly appreciate it. You know, we had a contest a few weeks ago, Jay, where we said anybody who leaves us a review from that show we had with Brandon LaGreca about EMFs.

Jay: Yes.

Andy: That we gave away a copy of his book.

Jay: Great show.

Andy: And I mailed out a bunch of them, to people for writing reviews. You know what folks, keep them coming, you know, if you’ve want to leave us a review, especially if it’s a good one. I’ll send you a copy of Brandon’s book because I’ve got a few extras laying around here and it’s a wonderful, wonderful read. So, the next few people who leave us a review, I will contact you personally and we’ll get your address and get a book on the way.

It doesn’t get better than that.

Andy: No, not at all. And folks, as always, it’s been an absolute pleasure to be in front of the microphone in front of you all. And Jay, it’s always a pleasure to do this with you.

Jay: Yeah, I agree. Andy. I hope folks that we’re sharing information, that is going to benefit your life going forward.

Andy: You got it. All right. Now remember what I said, a shot of Fire Cider or three times a day. Lot of vitamin C. And by next week, you and I both will be feeling great.

Jay: I’m excited already. I’m feeling great right now just talking to you.

Andy: Okay. It’s this show. It’s boosted my immune system.

Jay: Okay. All right, everyone. Take care out there folks. Bye.

Andy: Bye.

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NTE Podcast: The Cost of Healthy Building Pt 2

In the second part of this topic, Jay and I discuss the costs of the interior furnishings and finishes and how they can add up quickly.  Once again, we prove that building healthy does NOT increase the cost of your home.  Building with high quality, long-lasting materials does.  We discuss drywall, flooring, cabinetry and more.


NTE Podcast: The Cost of Healthy Building Pt1

There have been three myths about healthy building that are still believed to this day: Its too expensive, the products and systems don’t last as long, and you have very little options to chose from.  This episode is part 1 of 2 that will be dealing with the cost myth.  Healthy building is not more expensive.   Quality is more expensive and most healthy homes are built to a higher quality standard than the average home is.  We tackle the big ticket items today, like framing systems, HVAC and windows.  



NTE Podcast: New Fall Product Releases

Here in Wisconsin, our summers are typically a bit shorter than most of the country.  So we embrace the days or warmth and sun and take every advantage of what those days hold for us.  Residential construction spikes during this time, but when fall arrives, we finally have a chance to take a deep breath and go through some of new, fresh product ideas that have been presented to us throughout the year.  


NTE Podcast: Electropollution: The Silent Carcinogen

We have been SO EXCITED to bring you all an episode all about electropollution and we were finally able to land author Brandon LaGreca, who joins the show today to discuss his story, his new book and most importantly, how we all can protect ourselves with simple changes we all can make in our daily routines.  Pass this one along to your friends and family!



NTE Podcast: Hiring the Right IAQ Professional

You’re investigating noxious, unfamiliar odors in your home and need to hire someone.  Where do you go?  Who can you trust?  All too often, we get suck in “analysis paralysis” and either get recommendations from too many people or we hire someone who claims they can find the problem, but is woefully ignorant of the best testing methods.  Today, Jay and I discussing how to find the right IAQ professionals for troubleshooting your home, and I talk about some current projects that you can probably relate to.



NTE Podcast: The Glue That Keeps it All Together

If you think about all the items that go into a new home build, most people kind of forget about the glues, adhesives and caulks that are used during the build.  Caulking around doors and windows, adhesives under the sub flooring, glues for the cabinetry, etc.  While the amount of actual material doesn’t add up to the volume of paint you would use, it can certainly make for harmful indoor air if the wrong products gets used.  



NTE Podcast: Should I Build New or Remodel?

Jay and Andy get many questions like this on a daily basis, so they thought why not have the discussion on the podcast for all to hear!   Do I rip out and replace my cabinets, or can I refinish them? Can I seal the off gassing of my countertop or should I just get something new?  Do I remodel my entire home or just start from scratch. There are definitely pros and cons to both side of this topic, so lots of great information in this episode. 



NTE Podcast: New Flooring Options and Trends

On today’s episode, Jay and I talk about flooring options for your home.  We break down the “green” and human friendly attributes of various floors like cork, bamboo and wood, we discuss colors and trends, then we top it off with a quick guide to pricing so you can know what to expect as you start your research.  So if you’re designing a new home or remodeling your existing space, this is definitely an episode you don’t want to miss!



NTE Podcast: Offgassing….The Hidden Danger in our Homes

Jay and I today take a deep dive into the extremely important topic of chemical offgassing.   Folks, I know that I believe every episode of NTE is important.  But this one it at the top of the ‘important’ list!  In my eyes, the elimination of offgassing of your building materials is the most crucial aspect of healthy home building or remodeling. Whether you’re painting your home, replacing the carpet or just want to keep the indoor air as pristine as can be, this episode is for YOU!



NTE Podcast: Constructing a Healthy, High-Performance Home

Water is essential for life, yet can cause so much destruction.  Building a healthy home requires the use of many materials, very few as important as what we’ll be discussing today.  Etienne Gubler of Siga North America joins us today to discuss how his company’s tapes, wraps and membranes can eliminate the destructive element of water intrusion, and allow our well-built homes to last far beyond the typical service life we get here in North America.  Plus, we take a few questions from the mailbag.



NTE Podcast: Taking a Pulse of the Healthy Building Industry

Jay and I were talking earlier this week about some trends in the healthy building industry, and it occurred to us that we should immediately stop talking and jump on the microphones to continue the discussion.  I’ll admit, I did talk about one or two scary trends that we’re facing (insert spray foam insulation here), but i promise that 90% of the show is positive! 



NTE Podcast: Project Planning to Avoid Frustration

Its a common theme with many of our episodes.  Jay and I will always remind you to prepare your surfaces, prepare the area, manage your expectations!  Let me be honest, folks.  Chip and Joanna dont actually remodel a bathroom over a weekend!! It cant happen.  It takes planning and lots of it. I recorded an audio article for a magazine a few months back about this topic and I thought you all would enjoy it. After that, I’ll read a question I got from a customer I haven’t worked with since 2005.



NTE Podcast: When Jay and I need inspiration or information

Neither Jay nor I can ever admit to “knowing it all”.  Far from it, in fact.  Both of us need to refer to others on a regular basis and of course, we rely on the internet to help.  Sometimes we need contact names for specific professionals.  Other times…we just need inspiration to get us through a rough day or a difficult project.  So when those times come…and they come often these days…here’s some of the sites we go to.



NTE Podcast: Monthly Mailbag and New Home Project Updates

This is our monthly episode where Jay and I open up the mailbag and answer listener questions.  However, the first half of the show, Jay and I discuss some of the new home projects I’m currently working on and some of the more critical issues that our clients are facing right now.  Mold, moisture and more!  This is a really good episode and should be quite helpful to anyone who’s building now or is planning to build soon.

NTE Podcast: Recent Formaldehyde Testing Results

There has been quite a bit of activity with formaldehyde testing in the last few weeks and I wanted to share some findings.  The average home can have 5,000-15,000 different chemicals in the air at any given time, so I suppose it seems like a drop in the bucket if we eliminated just one.  But formaldehyde is a key trigger for allergies, asthma and chemical sensitivity, so that’s our main goal here.  Its a short episode today but the last few minutes of the show you have to stick around for.



NTE Podcast: A Substrate Soliloquy

I imagine you’ve heard an episode or two of this show, so you may know that we always emphasize surface preparation and testing as keys for a successful project, no matter the task.  The surface that a sealer, coating, floor covering, etc, is going on, is called a “substrate” and we will always insist that the substrate is in the proper condition before covering it up.  So what exact IS a substrate made of and how should you prepare it?  Thats what we tackle today.



NTE Podcast: Adopting principals of Feng Shui to make your home a healthier space!

I’ll admit…Feng Shui has always been a little too ‘woo-woo’ for me.  And if I had to hear one more TV interior designer say ” oh the Feng Shui of this place is horrible…”, only to move a chair and say VOILA!…. Joining us today is Shivam Kohls, who is not only a Feng Shui practitioner, but she’s an author, life coach and an all around EXPERT on personal well-being.  I actually feel better myself just from listening to her! 



NTE Podcast: Why Do We Keep Doing the Same Thing?

As the saying goes, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over again, expecting different results.  By that definition, the home building industry should definitely be deemed insane.  So if we know that typical building methods are dangerous, why do we keep allowing it to happen? Probably because of the cost increases…either perceived or real. So lets have that conversation today.  



NTE Podcast: Monthly Mailbag Bonanza

We are definitely in the midst of the construction busy season, so Jay and I are getting lots and lots of great questions coming at us.  We decided that one episode per month will be dedicated to answering questions that will help all of our listeners with current projects.  We’re calling it our Monthly Mailbag Bonanza!  Hope you enjoy!!



NTE Podcast: LIVE at Zuza’s Way – Pt.1

Oh boy this was a fun event!! So fun, that we had to break up the recording into two parts for you.  Part 1 here is an introduction to Dagmara Beine and her practice, Zuza’s Way, in Thiensville WI.  Dagmara invited us to come record our show in front of a live audience so we could interact and answer questions.  This episode, we’ll hear all about Dagmara’s story and why her approach to medicine fits perfectly within the NTE framework of Mind, Body, Home.  



NTE Podcast: LIVE at Zuza’s Way, Pt 2

Part 2 of our live event from Zuza’s Way in Thiensville Wisconsin.  This episode is the Q&A portion of our event.  Several great questions from our audience that led into some great conversation with Dagmara Beine PA-C, who does a wonderful job helping us all understand how the home is a critical factor when trying to heal the body.  



NTE Podcast: Permission to Proceed, Good Time of the Year to Tackle Home Projects

Today’s episode is a fun mishmosh of topics related to household projects that are best done as the weather gets nicer.  We’ll virtually walk around your home and discuss areas that you should inspect and repair before winter sets in later this year.  

We also reiterate some of the contractor related questions and advice that earlier episodes dealt with.  Then finally, a frank discussion about project timing, expectations and what the customer needs to do to alleviate potential stressful situations.



NTE Podcast: Careful What You Sign!

I do not talk about these issues to alarm you into hiring me or buying the materials I sell, but I know that sometimes it would seem that way.  Honestly, when things like this come up, I have no choice than to fire up the podcast machine and record the words that come out of my mouth without a script.   Some recent clients have alerted me about language that builders are using that basically allows them to use whatever material they wish, no matter the health consequences. 



NTE Podcast: Vastu Design-The Art and Architecture of Healing Spaces

Jay and I speak with Michael Gordon, who is arguably one of the worlds foremost authorities on the subject of Vastu architecture.  From his website: The principles of Vastu science that have been used in designing India’s great and sacred temples can be applied to any building project. Michael has used these principles in designs from cottages to palaces, in schools and office buildings. The positive influence of the building geometry and layout is an excellent environment for a home or office.



NTE Podcast: A Conversation with Holistic Nutritionist, Selina Rose

Continuing with our theme of healing, today I get the pleasure of speaking with Selina Rose about her life struggles and how those shaped her into the diet and nutrition expert she is.   She has developed a number of extremely worthwhile tools that you can access by signing up on her website.  Please check her out!!



NTE Podcast: Let The Healing Begin

This episode is the first of a series of shows we’ll be doing specifically about the healing side of Non Toxic Environments. Today, Jay and I are speaking with Dr. Lisa Nagy of the Environmental Health Center of Martha’s Vineyard.  Dr. Nagy’s story is not only fascinating, but its incredibly encouraging. She has been through it all herself and is now working to heal the world, one patient at a time, as well as in her  numerous speaking engagements, written papers and TV/Radio interviews. 



NTE Podcast: Interviewing My Hero, Debra Lynn Dadd

Today’s episode is a conversation I had recently with Debra Lynn Dadd.  Debra is inarguably the definitive voice in the arena of toxin-free consumer goods, and is someone I look up to and have a deep respect for.  I read her first book, Nontoxic & Natural, and it had profound effect on how I proceeded in my business.  Over the years, she has authored several more books on the subject, consulted with thousands of clients, as well as being a radio show host for a long stint.  All while continuing to build up her immense collection of technical knowledge, which she chronicles on her website.

Today, Debra will talk about new new endeavor, ZeroToxics.com  This is shaping up to be a site you’ll need to bookmark and refer to quite  often.

You can also check out her main site www.debralynndadd.com to learn about her work, find her product recommendations..even hire her to help with your situation.





NTE Podcast: Building Way Beyond Green

If you’ve been on the fence about building a new home, this is a MUST LISTEN TO episode, folks.  Pete and Rus from Healthy Home Builders in NY, talk with us about their experiences as one of the true pioneers.  For them, building healthy isn’t a fad or a trend, its all they do, and they do it quite well.  They typically work on some really high-end projects, but the processes they’ve developed are transferable to any project.  This show is full of excellent information, so pass it along to your friends!



NTE Podcast: March Mailbag Madness

Jay and I love all the mail we get from our listeners and clients.  So many great questions come our way, that its hard to pick just a few to talk about.  This week we tackle some questions that seem to be frequently asked.  Please excuse the audio, as Jay was coming to us from a remote location this week.  But his words come through crystal clear and compelling as they always do!



NTE Podcast: Starting a Healthy Home Related Business

Before I started GDC almost 30 years ago, I enlisted the help of a group called SCORE.  As a resource partner of the Small Business Administration, SCORE has helped more than 11M entrepreneurs through mentoring, workshops and educational resources since 1964.

So the episode today is the presentation that I made at their monthly chapter meeting.  I hope that if you’re listening and you have an idea about starting a business, you reach out to SCORE for some help.  It’s free, but absolutely invaluable.



NTE Podcast: Casual Conversation With a Real Healthy Home Builder

We interviewed Jen Stout from JS2 Partners a while back, just when they got started with their new healthy home construction company.  Jay and I thought it would be great idea to get an update from them and learn about their progress and how fast things are taking off for them.  Its a casual conversation between friends, but plenty of good information that you can use when you decide to pursue a healthy home build for you and your family.  



NTE Podcast: Healthy Home ‘Hacks’

Have you ever used one of our AFM Safecoat products in an unusual application and it worked perfectly?  Or maybe someone told you about a strange way to do something around the house that you never would have thought of yourself.  We call these little educational nuggets a hack.  Just as there are life ‘hacks’ to make you more productive, there are also product hacks, to help you get things done around the home. Today we’ll talk about some of these hacks and hopefully you’ll try them out yourself!



NTE Podcast: A Little Professional Advice

As a professional myself that deals with home health and wellness, I’m always excited to hear from other professionals about how they can learn more and help their clients.  Today, Jay and I take a call from an IAQ tester who wants to know about taking his business to the next level so that he can help his clients with the IAQ problems he has found.  Finding the problem is only half the battle.  Now what?  We’ve got some answers for all professionals about what the next steps should be.



NTE Podcast: A Discussion about the Holistic Mom’s Network

I speak at many events throughout the year and this one is definitely going to be a favorite for me.  Today, Im interviewing Jen Norris, who is the Co-Leader of the Holistic Mom’s Network, Milwaukee Chapter.  The HMN has around 100 chapters around the US and advocates for healthy living, holistic parenting and a vibrant community.  If you are in the Milwaukee area, Im speaking at their meeting on February 19th, 2019.  See the show notes for more information.



NTE Podcast: Oh Boy its COLD Outside

I did an episode of NTE where I listed off some of the more common materials used for insulation.  Since then, Ive received many emails about brands, etc.  So I thought since its currently -25F outside my office right now, this would be a proper time to dig a little deeper into insulation.  I’ve also been doing a lot of investigative research for clients lately, and figured you’d enjoy learning all about how the manufacturers are so very eager to help me.  HA! Just kidding. They avoid me like the plague.



NTE Podcast: Round and Round We Go

A client asked me a while back, “what does a day for you really consist of?”  Lots of phone calls, emails and face to face customers, for sure.  But most of my day involves consulting conversations, then tons of research to back up my recommendations.  I also get to discuss my recommendations with the contractors and design team for the project, and here is where it gets…frustrating.  



NTE Podcast: Welcome to 2019

After a much needed break to spend time with family and friends this past holiday season, Jay and Andy are back at it to talk about what this new year will mean for NTE.  They conduct some real-time FRAT testing to help out a client in Florida, then discuss some upcoming programming.  Its going to be a great year here on Non Toxic Environments!



NTE Podcast: Naturally Reducing Mold, Bacteria and Viruses in the Home

We’ve all heard the many suggestions for killing off mold, but honestly, most of them dont work effectively.  And the few that do… mold eventually will come back.  Caliwel is a revolutionary coating made by combining new technology with a readily available natural mineral….lime.   Bryan Glynson with Alistagen is the inventor and producer of this amazing product called Caliwel.  We’ll learn all about this coating, along with how to use it properly in your home and office.  



NTE Podcast: The Meaning behind #LeadNotLeed

About a year ago, after getting frustrated with my industry for the umpteenth time, I posted a rant on Facebook and used the hashtag LeadnotLEED.  Why?  Mainly because I wanted to tell professionals in the building industry to become leaders, not just follow the LEED program like lemmings.  The LEED program is good for many reasons, but as we’ve discussed in previous episodes, it doesn’t take human health concerns into account enough to make a difference.



NTE Podcast: Customer Service Goes Both Ways!

If you are someone who suffers from chemical sensitivity or allergies, you know how difficult it is to try and describe your situation with someone who just doesn’t get it.  Well, imagine what its like for folks like Jay and Andy, who deal with these consumers on a daily basis.  Today’s episode is a friendly reminder for sales people all over the world, as well as the customers themselves, to think about the other person when deciding to engage in a transaction.  Plus, we discuss some customer questions.



NTE Podcast: Giving Thanks

I know its a bit cliche to do a show about giving thanks this time of the year, but Jay and I both feel compelled to do so anyway!  Obviously, we wouldn’t be here without our spouses, family, co-workers and employees, so that all goes with our saying.  This episode is all about giving thanks to the early pioneers of our industry, our customers and listeners, and many others. Thank YOU for allowing us to do this and to invite us into your home every week!