Test for Toxins: You may feel like you’re doing all the right things for your health but still aren’t feeling well… and today’s topic delves into one of the reasons you may not be healing. Hidden toxins in the home are a widespread problem, and we will show you the best ways to test for them and what you can do to detox the home.
This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Charles Penick, MD
The Best Way to Test for Toxins in the Home
Mold, VOCs, and EMFs are three overarching categories of toxins commonly found in homes. While someone sensitive may be able to detect them immediately upon entering a room, the reality is that many people cannot. If you can’t feel them noticeably, it doesn’t mean they aren’t affecting your health. How to test for these toxins is vital because many tests will show false negatives, meaning false security for your health.
Test for Toxins: Mold
Mold spores are living and can spread quickly once they find the right conditions to proliferate in a house. Humidity draws in mold, so living in a humid climate, having a damp basement, or having a water leak are all recipes for disaster when it comes to mold in the home.
Most mold inspectors use air sampling as their testing method, which collects the air you breathe daily. The problem with air-based testing is that it rarely picks up a mold problem found behind the sink, on the roof, or beneath the toilet. Typically, those mold spores don’t make it into the air test, but the mycotoxins will still wreak havoc on your health because they are found in many other parts of the home to that you are also exposed.
The key with air testing is going right to the source, testing near sinks, pipes, toilets, anywhere leaks have occurred, under floorboards, and behind the wall cavities. In addition, it is helpful to do disturbed air sampling, which involves tapping or banging suspect areas to “wake up” potentially dormant spores.
ERMI test will also test the dust in your home for mold spores. Dust paints a picture of time since air particles will eventually fall and collect with the dust. Using an ERMI test can help see if mold was a problem in the past, even if spores may now be dry and not actively floating around in the air 1.
Even if dormant mold is not currently emitting spores into the air, it takes the slightest bit of moisture to wake them all backup and continue the proliferation. Therefore, whether your mold problem is active or dormant, it is vital to remove it.
Surface samples can also be done using Lift Tape or a swab on suspicious-looking surface substances in the home, including sneaky spots like wall cavities.
Test for Toxins: VOCs
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are airborne chemicals that are toxins when inhaled 2. VOCs are unfortunately everywhere due to the widespread use of off-gassing toxins in homeware, paint, furniture, carpets, cleaning agents, and more. However, VOC testing is relatively straightforward because general air tests work well.
Test for Toxins: EMFs
Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) are emitted from electrical wiring (like electric stoves or electrical boxes) and wireless devices that emit invisible frequencies between cell phone towers and cell phones, or WIFI routers and laptops or smart TVs. Although these EMFs interfere with all humans since we are electrical beings, some people are more sensitive because of higher iron or higher heavy metal load in the body 3.
Measuring EMFs can be done using various machines, including a radio frequency meter, electric field meter, and magnetic field meter.
First, you want to measure the rooms with all the power off because that shows a baseline for the space. First, shut off the house’s power altogether, and then again in various rooms with the lights off and everything unplugged. Finally, a third reading is done with the house running as it usually operates, keeping all devices, appliances, lights, and Wi-Fi on. This lets you paint a picture of what is happening in the background and what we introduce into the EMF environment.
The bedroom is especially important to mitigate the EMFs since we sleep all night with the intention of deep restorative rest. Therefore, ensuring the bedroom is an EMF-free zone is vital. The same principle goes for anywhere you spend considerable time in the house, like a home office. Although you may need certain things like wifi during the workday, there are still ways to optimize your home to mitigate the impact.
Mitigating Toxins from the Home
Properly testing toxins in the home is a vital step before attempting eradication; many sources of toxins are hidden and can still influence your health. When in doubt, it may be worth investing in an expert to support the testing and mitigation process, especially if you are dealing with a compromised immune system or chronic illness.
When mold is present in the home, it works like a little mold factory. Mold particles replicate and disperse in the house, continuously spreading and spreading. Although they can remain dormant, mycotoxins are often present anyways, which wreaks havoc on your health 4.
Getting to the root of the mold problem is the start, so addressing the leak or humanity. Mold is less likely to grow in a room with a low humidity level, so using a dehumidifier to maintain humidity below 50 percent is essential 4. Removing cellulose-rich building materials like insulation or wallpaper is also important since combining moisture and cellulose-based wallpaper is a recipe for disaster 5.
Many ways to help reduce surface mold include vinegar and clove oil 6. Mold is, however, a very complex thing to remove correctly. Since the spores spread, getting a good grasp of how far the spores have gone, thanks to proper testing, can help you see how manageable the clean-up will be. Mold can also spread in a central air system in the house, and it may be worth investing in a proper mold remedial to do the job right.
Anyone who has dealt with mold becomes weary of old homes and used furniture or homewares because they understand the potency of mold spores and how they can lay dormant and come back to life. But unfortunately, many of these people opt to buy new homes, new everything, without realizing that when it comes to new things, the likelihood of VOCs off-gassing goes way up. From the paint to the floor, the cabinets, and even the couch: most new materials will off-gas these airborne toxins for years after they are made 7.
Buying used furniture is one way to avoid heavy VOCs because the materials have already had a chance to off-gas. Another option is to purchase furniture made with natural materials that don’t have synthetic coatings or fillings. Increasingly companies are making green products free of VOCs, including couches, paint, flooring, and mattresses.
Avoid introducing VOCs into the home by opting out of artificial cleaning products. Instead, go natural, or make your own! VOCs are also common in synthetic room freshening sprays, plug-ins, and artificially scented candles. Instead, opt for entirely natural scents made from essential oils 2.
Take off your outdoor shoes in another way to lower VOCs in the home. Believe it or not, homes where individuals wear their outdoor shoes indoors contain much higher VOCs than those who take off their outdoor shoes 8. The city streets are full of oil, diesel, and petroleum products, places like public toilets are loaded with e-coli, toxic cleaning supplies, and other waste, and parks are full of pesticides and herbicides. So, leave your shoes at the door! (Ideally, outside the front door).
Lastly, open the windows! Getting fresh air is one of the best ways to keep VOCs from getting trapped in the house and accumulating.
Mitigating EMFs depends on the kind of frequency exposed to your home. Magnetic energies are difficult to block, and the best option is to minimize use and exposure. This means avoiding Bluetooth altogether, opting instead for corded connections. So use earphones with wires, and if you want to play music from your phone, connect it using a cord to speakers instead of Bluetooth. Although ethernet cables would be ideal for connecting computers to the internet, make sure you turn off the wifi at night if you use wifi.
Anytime you have the option to use a cord, use a cord. From your home telephone to the computer mouse, and especially the baby monitor…. Anytime you go cordless, you’re doing it at the cost of your health.
Understand that many of the conveniences that technology offers come at a cost, the cost being your health. Anytime devices are marked as “smart” (smart meters, TVs, printers, and fridges), you can bet they emit off-the-chart EMFs. When in doubt, old-school technology is the way to go or do it the old-fashioned way without any technology 9. Having everything linked to your phone (to change the thermostat, the lights, etc.) means blue tooth technology and EMF bombs.
Natural gas stoves are a better option because electric stovetops emit high EMFs. To avoid the VOC exposure of gas while you cook, use the overhead stove fan or keep the windows wide open!
Big appliances, in general, generate a lot of EMF noise, including washers, drier, the oven, the HVAC system, solar power junction boxes, and air conditioners 10. The radius is about 6 to 8 feet. Unplugging them when not in use is one option, but in general, make sure that your bed, office desk, or anywhere else you spend a considerable amount of time in aren’t within 8 feet of these big appliances. And remember: these frequencies travel through walls.
Keeping the bedroom in an absolute EMF-free haven is vital for proper restorative sleep. One of the best ways is to power off the room’s power grid at night. Of course, turning off wifi is an absolute must at night, but why not go all the way and turn off the room’s power altogether?!
Test for Toxins: Summary
Your home can become toxic in many ways, but three significant sources are mold, VOCs, and EMFs. Mitigating these sources is possible when you learn how to test for them properly. Unfortunately, many sources are hard to find because they hide behind walls, under floorboards, and from the conveniences of modern “smart” technology. Therefore, you must make the spaces you spend the most time in, like the bedroom and home office, toxin-free havens.
Medical Disclaimer: information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended to share knowledge and information. This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Charles Penick, MD, for the accuracy of the information provided, but we encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
- “What Is Ermi Testing?” Healthy Building Science, https://healthybuildingscience.com/2021/04/22/what-is-ermi-testing/.
- EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/what-are-volatile-organic-compounds-vocs.
- University of Maryland, Baltimore. “University of Maryland Graduate School.” How the Human Body Uses Electricity – University of Maryland Graduate School, https://www.graduate.umaryland.edu/gsa/gazette/February-2016/How-the-human-body-uses-electricity/.
- “A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture and Your Home .” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, https://www.epa.gov/mold/brief-guide-mold-moisture-and-your-home.
- “Mold behind Wallpaper? Is It Common, What Causes It and How to Remove It.” Affordable Remediation & Emergency Services | Mold Remediation & Removal Service Company, 23 Jan. 2019, https://affordableremediation.com/mold-behind-wallpaper-is-it-common-what-causes-it-and-how-to-remove-it/.
- Schroder, Tiffany, et al. “Antifungal Activity of Essential Oils against Fungi Isolated from Air.” International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, vol. 23, no. 3, 2017, pp. 181–186., https://doi.org/10.1080/10773525.2018.1447320.
- Kwaku. “How Long Does off-Gassing Take?” Air & Water Expert, 6 July 2020, https://airandwaterexpert.com/how-long-does-off-gassing-take/.
- “Indoor Air Quality.” Built Green, https://www.builtgreen.net/blog-detail/builtgreenblog/2020/02/19/indoor-air-quality-how-to-not-let-it-walk-all-over-you.
- Blank, R. “Smart Home EMF: The Health Risks of Smart Tech & What You Can Do.” Shield Your Body with SYB 5G & EMF Protection, 21 Oct. 2021, https://www.shieldyourbody.com/smart-home-emf/?billing_country=MX.
- “What Are Emfs.” Electric and Magnetic Fields and Health, https://www.emfs.info/sources/appliances/.