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The Non-Toxic Home Self-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.
Stage One – Spring Green –
Eliminate Products with the Highest Toxicity:
Stage One of the Non-Toxic Home Certification Program requires 70
of 100 points from the following 10 criteria (10 points each). At
least 7 of the following criteria must be met. At all stages, the
home owner can substitute other criteria than those listed, so long
as the substitution satisfies the overall objective of that
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Stage Two – Lime Green – Clean
up the Air, Water, and Light:
Stage Two of the Non-Toxic Home Certification Program requires 70
of 108 points from the following 8 criteria (12 points each). At
least 5 of the following criteria must be met. At least one
criteria from Air, one from Water, and one from Light must be met,
which gives you another 12 points. Stage Two also requires Stage
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
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
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
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
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
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
Stage Three – Living Green –
Extra Air Purification:
Stage Three of the Non-Toxic Home Certification Program requires 60
of 105 points from the following 7 criteria (15 points each). At
least 4 of the following criteria must be met. Stage Three also
requires Stage Two Certification.
The vacuum cleaner has both a HEPA and an
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
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
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
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
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.
Stage Four – Avocado Green – Further Interior Remediation:
Stage Four of the Non-Toxic Home Certification Program requires 70 of 100 points from the following 10 criteria (10 points each). At least 7 of the criteria must be met. Stage Four also requires Stage Three Certification.
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.
Stage Five – Forest Green – Exterior Remediation
Stage Five of the Non-Toxic Home Certification Program requires 60 of 104 points from the following 8 criteria (13 points each). At least 5 of the criteria must be met. Stage Five also requires Stage Four Certification:
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.