This is the only Non-Toxic Home Certification System I am aware of. There are nationally recognized green building certifications such as LEED developed by The U.S. Green Building Council and Energy Star. LEED has some non-toxic standards, but that is not the entire focus. See Green Home Certification Systems on this site for other Green Home Certification Systems.
Bau Biologie incorporates both green and healthy home practices for new and existing buildings, but I’m not aware of any Bau Biologie certification program for homes. Safer Building offers a certification which states that a home or building is maintained in a less toxic manner than normal. Safer Building sells several how-to guides which contain the information to help you get certified. I have no idea what information is in those how-to guides.
The Non-Toxic Home Certification System is based on years of research and compiled with the help of many others (thanks).
References to house/home in this certification refer to all buildings on the property and the property itself unless otherwise indicated.
There may be steps in later stages of the Non-Toxic Home Certification Program which you may want to do in earlier stages.
Many persons with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) would include most items from the first three stages and some from stage four before considering a home MCS-safe. Many of these items can easily be done with little or no cost.
• Removal of all air fresheners, especially plug-in air fresheners from the home and quit using them. There would be a list of approved natural air fresheners.
• Switch to natural laundry products. This includes not using chlorine or chlorinated products, using a natural laundry detergent (best if safe for septic system) or baking soda and/or vinegar, natural fabric softener (or none), natural dryer sheets (or none), and natural (non-chlorine) bleach (or none).
• Switch to natural or organic lawn-care products. Remove chemical pesticides and herbicides. Posting a Pesticide-Free or Salmon-Safe or No Spray sign in your yard once you have switched, is recommended.
• Switch to natural, non-toxic cleaning products.. Also remove solvents from the home.
• Switch to natural, non-toxic personal-care products.
• Hire a professional mold inspector who knows about natural mold remedies to inspect your home. Then employ the recommended methods for eliminating mold and potential mold problems.
• Smoking is not allowed in the home. Signs to indicate this are recommended. Some states do not allow smoking in public buildings or within 20 or more feet of entrances (including windows) to the building. Although your home is a private building, you may want to consider similar rules.
• Any asbestos within the home is properly remediated.
• If there is an attached garage, permanently separate it from the house, sealing the doorway with Denny Foil or some other odor barrier. Alternatively, make the garage non-toxic and quit using it as a garage.
• Seal off toxic areas, such as attics where there may be toxic insulation, with Denny Foil or other odor barrier.
• An Air Circulation System. This may be an actual system or just good cross-ventilation provided by windows and screen doors. This may be included in the mold elimination program.
• Air Filters or NASA recommended House Plants to filter the air. Air Filters should be changed regularly. Alternatives for cleaning the air are Salt Crystal Lamps, Bees Wax Candles with natural wicks, or any combination of these items.
• Carpet Removal. Carpets hold in toxic chemicals. All floors should be naturally sealed (Natural Shellac or other natural sealant) wood or bamboo, stone, ceramic tile, concrete, marmoleum, or other natural material; and can be covered with natural fiber area rugs. You may need to seal subflooring with natural sealer and/or Denny Foil before adding new natural flooring.
• Shoes are removed before entering the home. There are signs directing this, and a designated area where shoes can be left. Shoes carry dirt and man-made chemicals from elsewhere into the home.
• Drinking Water Filters. Most homes are on community water systems where the water is treated before entering the home. Most community water systems use chlorine to treat the water. Chlorine is a toxic chemical. Most community water systems also use flouride to treat the water. Even if your community water system does not treat the water with toxic or (in your mind) questionable chemicals, the water may pick up other things (minerals, bacteria, etc.) on it’s way through the pipes to your house. Water filters should be changed regularly. Alternatives are well water, where the well is tested regularly, and bottled water. Bottled water in plastic bottles runs the risk of the plastic leaching phthalates and other toxic chemicals into the water.
• Shower Filters. Same rules as apply to drinking water filters, apply to shower filters. Whatever method you choose, you’ll want to use non-toxic water for showers, baths, etc., as well as for drinking. In the shower, toxic chemicals have more freedom to enter your pores through the mist hitting your skin. For some, this is worse than drinking unfiltered water.
• Natural lighting via the sun. Change your home to increase natural lighting. This may include windows, skylights, and full spectrum lighting. There is also fiber-optic technology which will bring the natural sunlight indoors. This fiber-optic technology is sometimes referred to as hybrid solar lighting. For homes in areas where natural lighting is not always available, due to weather or trees, natural lighting from the sun should be supplemented by other means.
• Full Spectrum lights. Full spectrum lightbulbs are available as regular lightbulbs, CFL’s, and LED’s. CFL’s contain mercury. This is a very small amount of mercury, if the bulb is from a reputable company, (less than a watch battery, amalgam filling, or mercury thermometer), but mercury is toxic none-the-less. Broken CFL’s should be treated as hazardous waste. Natural Life has simple recommendations for how to clean up a broken CFL. Philip’s has pledged to remove both lead and mercury from its light bulbs. Full Spectrum LED’s are available and LED’s are mercury-free. LED’s are more expensive than CFL’s.
• The vacuum cleaner has both a HEPA and an ULPA filter.
• The bedrooms are small areas. Ideally bedrooms contain the bed and not much else. This helps keep toxins out of the sleeping area, which is important to help the immune system recover from toxins it encounters in a normal day.
• Extra Filtration near electronics. Extra filtration is placed in areas containing electronics such as computers, TV’s, and stereo systems. Many electronics are fire-proofed with PBDE’s. PBDE’s are being phased out, starting in 2009. Alternatively enclose the electronics away from living areas.
• Residual toxins have been removed from the air. This can be done by leaving dry black tea bags throughout the house for a month, changed on a weekly basis. This pulls toxins from the air and gives the home character – what type of character, we won’t say. Leaving bowls of vinegar around the house is another option if the smell of vinegar doesn’t overwhelm the inhabitants. Bowls of sea water (or at least salt water) should also do the trick. Completely airing the house for a month will work provided there is good air circulation.
• Residual toxins are continuously removed from the air. The above methods can be used on an annual (or more frequent) schedule. Other methods are continuously running salt crystal lamps, or monthly burning of fragrance-free bees wax candles. Candles should be burned for at lesat 12 hours. This can be done a few hours at a time, rather than 12 hours continuously.
• A Passive Radon Mitigation System is installed. A Passive Radon Mitigation System is basically a pipe which allows air to flow from the crawl space or footing below the basement to the exterior of the house.
• There is a constant supply of toxic remediation tools on hand. You may want to include Tea Bags, Vodka, Baking Soda, Vinegar, Photocatalytic Spray, Zeolite, and Carbon Paper in your toolkit.
• Seal Furniture with natural sealers or have furniture made with natural products. If the dressers, shelves, etc. of the home are not made with natural products, seal them, especially the interior of dressers, with natural shellac or other natural sealant. Alternatively, line the interiors with sheets of carbon paper or bags of zeolite. Zeolite needs to sit in the sun every so often to remain effective.
• Seal Cabinets with natural sealers or have cabinets made with natural products. If the cabinets are not made with natural products, seal them, especially the interior of cabinets, with natural shellac or other natural sealant. Alternatively, line the interiors with sheets of carbon paper or bags of zeolite. Zeolite needs to sit in the sun every so often to remain effective.
• Seal any cracks in walls with a non-toxic sealant, to reduce exposure to toxins trapped in the walls. Consider mud plaster or other natural plaster for all your walls and ceilings – use where appropriate. If repainting, use no-voc paints.
• Airing station. This is a place outside your home where toxic things can be aired before being brought into your home.
• Outside Junk Mail Recycling Station. Mail comes from some other location which may not be non-toxic. Recycle Junk Mail before bringing it inside your home. To remedy non-junk mail, try tea bags, carbon paper, and/or seal in ziploc bags.
• Any gas or propane appliances are replaced with electric ones or permanently shut off.
• Any lead paint within the home is properly remediated.
• Carbon Monoxide levels are metered or tested and the level in the home is a safe level. Carbon Monoxide is usually not a problem when there are no gas or propane appliances.
• EMF levels are metered or tested and the level in the home is a safe level. The internationally recognized safe-level for EMF’s is be based on the ICNIRP recommendations (basically 2 milligauss). You may want to use a more precautionary standard such as that of Switzerland.
• Radon levels are metered or tested and the level in the home is a safe level. Radon tends to be a problem in certain geographic areas (due to the geology) and not in others. Radon tends to be a problem in homes with basements in these geographic areas. Some locations require new homes built in the area to have Radon Mitigation Systems installed.
• Any asbestos on the outside of the home is properly remediated.
• Any lead paint on the exterior of the home is properly remediated. If repainting, use no-voc paints.
• Arsenic treated wood is removed and replaced with a non-toxic alternative.
• Non-porous surfaces such as side-walks are eliminated. This keeps the toxins in the water from standing in one place and helps filter the toxins, rather than running them directly into the rainwater sewer. Porous concrete is available or use wood chips, gravel, oyster shells, or some similar natural material.
• The roof is made of natural materials such as metal or is a green roof. If you’re replacing the roof, it is a good time to install skylights for extra natural lighting in the home.
• Plant a screen of trees and/or bushes near the road and optionally along the driveway. Trees and bushes should be natives and use minimal amounts of water. The trees or bushes will absorb emissions from exhaust and help keep it out of your house.
• Filter outside water. This can be done via a carbon filter on the hose (hard to find) or by letting the water sit in a bucket for a few hours before using it – be sure to cover the bucket with a screen to keep out mosquitoes. Alternate methods are to use well water and rain water. It is best to filter rain water coming off your roof. Flow forms are another alternative. And, filtration gardens are another alternative.
• Reduce driveway idling emissions. This can be done by not idling the car to warm it up - this saves gas; by parking the car at the far end of the driveway, away from the house; and by having a non-petroleum-fueled car (or no car at all). You should never leave your car unattended while it is idling. In some locations, leaving your car unattended while it is idling is a crime.