Does high indoor air quality exist?

We now know what’s been wrong with me the past 10 years and worse in the past 5 years and just about unbearable in the past 2 years. I have Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker’s Biotoxin Illness. No question about it. Unfortunately, the first step in treating this miserable disease is to find a home (and workplace) that’s low in toxic molds. The workplace is easy because I can work from home, but so far finding a living space that’s below 2 on the ERMI (EPA Relative Moldiness Index) scale is next to impossible in Seattle and Albuquerque (it’s clearly not about climate). Older buildings are too toxic from disrepair, crawlspaces, basements and rugs. Newer buildings are built so tight that they don’t ventilate. I have measured brand new construction at greater than ERMI 7 on more than one occasion. This is some seriously bad construction created by people who could not care less about indoor air quality! Out of the dozen or so tests I’ve run, only one has passed so far and it now appears to have a water intrusion problem that was identified during inspection.

Is there a city in the world that builds for high indoor air quality? I need solidly engineered, low-humidity, high ventilation modern construction. I’m a great software engineer and fully ready to move if there is such a place… willing to learn Dutch or German!

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3 Responses to Does high indoor air quality exist?

  1. Ian Marshall says:

    Sorry to hear about your travails, Jonathan. If I hear about somewhere that builds for high indoor air quality, I’ll let you know.

    By the way, WordPress auto-alerting via daily and weekly E-mails is down at the moment. I picked your latest post up via BlogTrottr.

  2. Jan Hustak says:

    You might be interested in the Passive House concept – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_house

    In short, it’s a seriously insulated house with forced air circulation. The idea is to help heat/cool the incoming air by reusing the outgoing air’s heat/coolness, saving lots of energy. A nice side-effect is that there’s a guaranteed rate of air renewal and you can put various filters in the heat recovery unit’s air intake. A friend of mine suffers from serious allergy/asthma problems and she can’t praise her passive house enough. I’ve never been there but she says the air is just as fresh as outside except it’s free from pollen as it’s all being filtered out.

    Passive House is originally a German concept with a lively scene in the US. Unfortunately, there seems to be some in-fighting as well – see http://www.treehugger.com/green-architecture/plague-both-their-passive-houses.html

    In any case, you shouldn’t have a problem finding a passive house contractor. Finding a finished house for sale may be more difficult. Hope this helps.

  3. Really appreciate the response. I’m having a custom house built and although it’s too late to look into a full Passive House, it will include a Heat Recovery Ventilator, which is what you’re describing in terms of increasing air circulation. It will also be built entirely without biological products like wood and paper (steel studs, paperless drywall, concrete floors, etc) and will have no roof or wall penetrations as well as failsafe drains for water everywhere. There isn’t a lot of work going into IAQ problems in housing, so this just might be the most mold-resistant home in the US.

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