Your Home Is Making You Sick: Biohack Your Living Space with Toxin Testing
Today, we talk about toxins that are overlooked in your house and what you can do about them with our guest Ryan Blaser, the founder and CEO of Test My Home, an environmental company dedicated to improving your health by changing the environments you spend the most time in.
In this Episode of The Human Upgrade™...
The environment you live in has the most profound impact on your health and wellbeing, but are you aware of the toxins and pollutants we’re surrounded by on a daily basis?
That is why today’s episode is so important. We talk about toxins that are overlooked in your house and what you can do about them. Our guest is Ryan Blaser, the founder and CEO of Test My Home, an environmental company dedicated to improving your health by changing the environment around you.
As a functional medicine doctor for your home, Ryan uses his expertise in building biology and healthy home consulting to identify and address toxic sources that could be impacting your health.
After a unique personal wellness journey, Ryan founded Test My Home to help others achieve optimal health. He personally experienced the detrimental effects of mold exposure and lead inhalation, which caused unusual and serious health symptoms like fatigue, weight loss, and brain fog. After unsuccessful attempts with conventional doctors, Ryan took the initiative to investigate his home environment and found the source of his health issues. He cured himself and is now sharing his knowledge and experience with the world.
The definition of biohacking is to change the environment around you, and inside of you, so you have full control of your own biology. This is a part of core biohacking, and it’s one I think a lot of us just don’t think about. We take our supplements, we do our cold plunges, we do all the different biohacks, but just cleaning up the environment around you could make a really big difference. So, in this episode you’ll learn about the most common pollutants and toxins in your home, how to identify them, and ways you can mitigate or eliminate their effects.
“A thorough cleaning of the house is one of the biggest biohacks you can do. Keep a clean home. I can't say enough about that.”
00:00:17 — The Top 5 Pollutants Indoors & What To Do About Them
- Ryan’s personal experience getting sick from environmental toxins
- Moldy Movie: moldymovie.com
- The myth behind green buildings
- Solutions for toxic mold exposure in residential buildings
- How to identify mold in the home
- What you should do if you have a smelly home instead of air fresheners
- How important is a gas stove vs. an electric range?
- How lighting affects us and types of lights to use in your home
00:21:30 — Understanding the Dangers of Fragrances, Mold & VOCs
- The surprising ingredients in candles and air fresheners
- Homebiotic spray: homebiotic.com/product/homebiotic-spray
- What to do when you live in humid environments to prevent mold
- Meridian Upgrade Labs: upgradelabs.com/meridian
- Tips for dealing with moisture in your home
- Recommendations to mitigate carbon monoxide dangers
- Explaining VOCs and how you can absorb or filter them out
- The extreme toxicity and effects of formaldehyde
00:42:11 — Sneaky Pollutants: Protecting Your Home from Gas & Noise
- Symptoms of a leaky sewer gas
- Ozone pollution versus ozone therapy
- Sneaky places you can find surface radiation from nuclear plants
- Protecting yourself from small particles
- Reducing noise stressors in the home
- Learning to listen to your body and intuition to identify toxins or stressors
- Free course: https://www.happyhome5.com/
Enjoy the show!
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[00:00:00] Dave: You’re listening to The Human Upgrade with Dave Asprey. Today, we’re going to talk about what’s going on inside your house. What toxins are there? Well, bottom line is most of the world is toxic, and it’s been that way forever. And if you don’t believe me, try eating some rocks. There’s minerals in there that are toxic.
[00:00:22] You could try eating anything growing in a forest, and unless you know the small percentage of things that are edible, most of that stuff is toxic as well. So it’s not like there aren’t toxins in the world, and it’s not like we don’t have systems to deal with them, including our brain, where we only eat the stuff that’s edible.
[00:00:41] And if we figure out what makes us weak, and even the things that do make us weak, we can usually handle some of it. And then our body has systems to say, well, that wasn’t good for me. Let me get rid of it. Problem is, you may have a little bit more variety and a little bit more quantity of toxins and types of toxins that your body can’t recognize or isn’t equipped to deal with because they aren’t things that ever existed on the planet until we figured out how to make them.
[00:01:11] So today we’re going to talk about toxins that are overlooked in your house and what you can do about it. And our guest today is Ryan Blaser, who’s founder and CEO of Test My Home. They’re an environmental company dedicated to, well, improving your health by changing the environment around you.
[00:01:32] And in case you forgot the definition of biohacking, it’s, change the environment around you and inside of you so you have full control of your own biology. So this is a part of core biohacking, and it’s one I think a lot of us just don’t think about. We take our supplements, we do our cold plunges, we do all the different biohacks, but maybe just cleaning up the environment around you could make a really big difference. Ryan, welcome to the show.
[00:02:00] Ryan: Yeah, thanks for having me.
[00:02:02] Dave: You got it. Tell me your story. I think your 20s are like my 20s.
[00:02:08] Ryan: Yes. So I’ve always been fascinated with the environment and how it affects the body. And in my 20s, I had a company in Phoenix where we were designing– we built the nightclubs, the high-end recording studios, broadcast centers, churches. And we would go in, and we would create all the things that stimulate the environment, stimulate the body.
[00:02:25] So the sound, the lights, the video, the acoustics, the layout, the colors, all the things to make an environment conducive for optimal health for the body. Now, after doing that, I found that in certain environments, particularly the recording studios, I would feel better, at the end of the day, than I would in some of the other environments that were not so clean electrically.
[00:02:45] And I found that personally, I’m sensitive to EMF. And in recording studios, you would think there’s a lot of technology, but actually, you need to have a really clean EMF environment in there, or else a lot of those noises will get onto the recordings. Experimented around with that. Started looking into what other things can be unhealthy to the body, what other things can harm the body.
[00:03:04] Shortly after that, I moved into a newer home, and it was infested with black mold. I didn’t know that at the time. I got super, super sick. In and out of the hospital. They thought I had stomach cancer. They wanted to take my gallbladder out. Finally, after about four or five doctors, he did some testing on me, functional medicine doctor, found out I was heavily intoxicated with mold.
[00:03:26] Uh, at the same time, I was also restoring an old Scout vehicle, standing on it, and I was breathing in some lead. I wasn’t wearing the proper mask, and I got super sick. Moved out of the home, started to recover, got better, and realized, wow, there’s a big problem in the world, particularly with mold and these toxins that people are just unaware of.
[00:03:46] I was not aware of it. And so started going into different fields, learning about the different dangers in the environment. Worked at a nuclear facility, toxic waste cleanup, uh, the Department of Environmental Quality, doing the air quality division. And going through these different career paths informed myself and learned the dangers of the home.
[00:04:07] So I created a company about five years ago that goes into the home, does a full analysis of all the toxins and stresses that could possibly come up and affect the body, come up with a plan to fix those, and then start adding some of the good stuff, some of the biohacking stuff to truly make an ultimately clean and healthy environment, true sanctuary for us to go back into because the world is pretty toxic out there. And we’re never going to get away from all of it, but if we can at least create a sanctuary for our house that we can go home to, to let our bodies heal and recovery, that’s the goal of our company.
[00:04:40] Dave: It’s funny how going through all of that, just the health stuff makes you so aware of it. You were actually heavier than I was. You were 360 pounds. I only hit 300 pounds. And you had heartburn, and ADHD, and all this stuff, anxiety. Very similar story. Toxic mold alone could do that, but when you combine it with all the other stuff, it’s just a burden that’s more than our bodies are meant to bear.
[00:05:09] And this is just a quick shout out. If you have not seen Moldy movie, which is a documentary I did on toxic mold, it’s free. It takes one hour, about the length of this podcast. Go to moldymovie.com, and you’ll see how big of a difference it is. And just hear from doctors, hear from people who’ve been affected. Because I know if you’re listening to the show, if you look to your left, look to your right, one of those three people probably has mold in their home that is affecting them differently than other people in their homes.
[00:05:40] It’s a massive issue. It doesn’t matter where you live, the desert, in the swamps. It’s everywhere. And it’s because of the way we build our homes. Let me ask you this. Of all the things that you’ve experienced, you had the automotive stuff you were doing on your old Scout, and you were breathing solvents, you were breathing heavy metal dust, you had toxic mold, what do you think was the worst exposure?
[00:06:05] Ryan: I think it was definitely the mold that put me over the edge. I remember it would be raining and water would be leaking through, and I’d smell that musty smell. I’m like, ah, it’s not good. It’s a little moldy. But I didn’t, at the time, realize how seriously dangerous mold can be for the body and how much it can wreck you. But I believe that was probably the number one thing that really put me over the top.
[00:06:24] Dave: Tell me about your walk-in refrigerator man cave.
[00:06:27] Ryan: Yeah. So we went to an auction at this grocery store, and they were selling the refrigerator, the walk-in cooler. I thought this would be a great addition to put onto the back of my house as a little man cave. And so we installed that, put it in there, and come to find out that was also infested with black mold.
[00:06:49] So it was a combination between the house I was living in, that moldy man cave, so to speak, that was full of black mold from years and years of condensation and buildup in there. Not the smartest idea looking back. It seemed good at the time, but that definitely caused a lot of issues.
[00:07:08] Dave: There’s a environmental village up on Vancouver Island, where I live, and they decided they were going to do reclaimed materials for construction. So they’d go around, and they’d gather old carpets and use them as wall insulation and all that. And I noticed every time I went there, I would just get so profoundly sick. Tell me more. And like, oh, yeah, well, we got the carpet from a water damaged building.
[00:07:38] No. What you do is you build environments that make humans thrive. And if you say, well, our goal is to save electricity instead of to make people feel good, you’ll get the LEED environmental standard, which is the greenest buildings ever. One of the people in that moldy documentary lived in a LEEDs building in New York that was absolutely full of toxic mold because they didn’t take humidity out of the air because it took electricity.
[00:08:07] So it turns out low cost electricity and low cost power are fundamental to human health, so we can control our environment. They’re also fundamental to human freedom. So what you want is clean materials, not environmentally easy to get materials. So we don’t want to create waste, but it’s not worth sacrificing the quality of the environment around you to save electricity.
[00:08:31] And there’s a very big focus push even to destroy food quality in the name of carbon dioxide. Well, if we have toxic mold, and uranium particles, and atrazine, and glyphosate, and plastic in your food, carbon dioxide is not important to compared to those. It’s important. It’s a 100-year problem, and we’re dealing with a short-term problem that is actually caused by the same people trying to sell us carbon dioxide. Do you worry about CO2 levels in your houses?
[00:08:58] Ryan: That’s a really good point you bring up, and I want to make it clear that a green building does not equal healthy building.
[00:09:04] Dave: I know.
[00:09:05] Ryan: I wish it did. That would be great. But unfortunately, we can’t have both of those things at the same time because it does take extra energy from some of these systems. Back in the ’80s, ’90s, they made a lot of these homes super airtight in an efficiency goal to try to lower carbon reduction.
[00:09:21] But the problem with that is when we made these airtight homes, is we forgot to let them breathe. Now, in a commercial building, it’s required to have so much CFM per hour of air exchange, but in a residential home, that’s not required by code. And so unless you specifically ask for that, or install an energy recovery ventilator, a heat recovery ventilator, a fresh air system, your home is not breathing.
[00:09:44] And that’s where we start to see a lot of these problems. Because when we have a mold problem, now it’s amplified because we’re not getting fresh air in to flush that out. Also, the CO2 levels are going up. Any of the VOCs or the chemicals that are off-gassing are starting to now build up in the home. And so to ventilate the home to bring fresh air, and now we have to either heat it or cool it. And that does increase energy costs.
[00:10:05] Dave: It’s a tough call. So if you seal the house, then you’re going to get a terrarium where mold grows, but you’ll spend less on heating and cooling. Or you move air from the outside in, you filter it carefully, and you recirculate some of the air through a HEPA air filter. But to do that, it takes more electricity, and it costs more to build the building. Does this mean that people should move into big residential apartment buildings because there are codes that require that?
[00:10:35] Ryan: I think what it comes down to, instead of building a huge 6,000, 8,000-square foot home, maybe we just downsize just a little bit and we focus more on the health so that it evens out in the long run. Because ultimately, like you said, it is more important that we are healthy and that our brains are thinking properly, especially these days. It is so important that all of us are top notch on our game with our thinking. And if we’re not living in a healthy building, that’s not going to happen. So to me, that’s probably the most important thing that we can focus on.
[00:11:03] Dave: I agree with you. It’s better to have a smaller place with high quality air and low volatility outgassing furnishings. So I focus on quality over quantity for living space. And if you’re lucky, you can get some of both. But truthfully, I would rather have a 1,000-square foot home that was clean than a 4,000-square foot house where we had to cut corners and paint it with things that make you just tax your system all the time with some mold in the ceiling and all of that. So it is very important that you’re comfortable in your home, but maybe it’s not a size issue. What besides mold are the top five pollutants indoors for people today?
[00:11:52] Ryan: So yeah, mold, I would say is number one. Second, I would say is EMF exposure. We have so much technology around us. The Wi-Fi, the Bluetooth, the computers, the laptops, the cell phones, and now 5G outside. But modern technology is going through the roof, and a lot of it now is wireless. So that exposure, I would say, would be the second leading cause of the illness and stressors on the body.
[00:12:16] Then, after that, what I would say would be the chemicals that we’re bringing into our house. The personal care products, the cleaning products, if you’re still using the fragrances. The plugins, that’s not a good idea. What you’re building your home with, the off-gassing, the formaldehydes, those are probably third in line.
[00:12:32] Then I would say probably water quality. There’s not very much water in the United States that you can drink out of the tap safely, or at least that I would drink, for doing thousands of tests I highly recommend filtering your water. And that also goes to what you’re bathing and showering in because you can absorb just as much that way as you can drinking.
[00:12:51] So those, and then I would say air quality just in general, focus on the particulates, the things that we’re breathing in. Smoke season. East Coast got hit pretty hard this year with the fires, which they normally don’t. West Coast usually gets it. We’ve actually been pretty lucky out here this year. Those are probably the five main things that we focus on that we see in the environment affecting us.
[00:13:15] Dave: All right. So I’m surprised. EMFs are the second thing after mold. So you look for a mold, then you look for EMFs, and then you look at general things like water quality, and air quality, and chemicals, correct?
[00:13:33] Ryan: Yeah.
[00:13:33] Dave: All right. So how do you know if you have mold in your home?
[00:13:37] Ryan: So mold needs water to grow. So if you’ve ever had any water damage, any water leaks, any flooding, if you got a five-year-old, loves to play in the bathtub and turn it into a swimming pool every night, these are the things we look for. Also, looking for bubbling in the walls, expanding, just things that don’t look right.
[00:13:56] Looking underneath your sinks. A big trick I like to do is go into the toilet and lift up the toilet tank, and you can see if there’s any mold grown in there. That’s usually an indication that you have mold spores in your air. It’s a perfect petri dish in your house. Also, if you’re going into your house and you don’t feel very good, and then you go on vacation, or you go hiking, or you go out to the beach, and you feel great, and then you go back to your home and you feel horrible, that’s a really big red flag that you’ve got something going on.
[00:14:24] Dave: I wish I could hear you say that twice because so many people say, oh, I’m not stressed. I’m on vacation. It’s like, no, you’re in a different environment, and your environment is making you weak, but you don’t know. You haven’t learned to recognize the pattern yet. When people have mold, it increases their sensitivity to EMFs. It increases their sensitivity to formaldehyde, to all the other fragrances.
[00:14:52] It can actually cause MCS, which is when you’re sensitive to chemicals. I’ve had that since I was a teenager because I grew up in a basement with toxic mold, and I would just hold my breath walking down the fabric softener aisle at the grocery store because I would just get dizzy, and it would smell really bad.
[00:15:09] I saw an interesting statistic. 75% of homes in the US use air fresheners. These are endocrine-disrupting chemicals that mess with your estrogen, your testosterone, with your brain, with your children’s development because it smells pretty, because someone convinced you that your house shouldn’t smell like a house.
[00:15:30] Or even worse, you’re using it to cover up the musty smell, which is caused by toxic mold. So one of the things you could do right now, as you’re listening to this show, is you could go into your car, you take those dumb little pine tree things, throw them away, and never buy another one. And then go to every room in your house that has an air freshener and throw it away.
[00:15:51] And if you were to do that, you say, but I might smell something. Yes, that would be your house. If it smells bad, you should clean it, or get an air filter. Or maybe you could get some essential oils and a diffuser if you want to do that. This is how healthy homes are made. But if you’re doing that right now, the effects on your IQ, on your hormones, they’re meaningful, and there’s no regulation of the stuff that’s in those.
[00:16:16] Ryan: Yeah, there’s a point I want to make. If there’s one takeaway from this, is that clean does not have a smell. If you go into a house and it smells, it’s usually because of a biological, a chemical, or some particulate. So if you smell something, we need to address it. Like you mentioned, a lot of times we’ll have a biological smell, maybe it’s pet urine, maybe it’s a little mold, and then we want to go and cover that up with an air filter, which now is a chemical. And so now we’re adding a third–
[00:16:42] Dave: You mean an air freshener. An air filter will get it out of the air. An air freshener will mask it. I guess I’m–
[00:16:46] Ryan: Thanks for clarifying that. Yeah. The Glade plugins and stuff, the chemical stuff. That’s what we’re talking about. Or candles. And so we try to strive for no smell and neutral smell into a house so that when we walk into a home, when we’re done with it, it should not have a smell.
[00:17:02] Dave: I totally agree. You might get a cooking smell for a brief period of time, and you don’t have to hide that with a fake chemical smell. Cooking smells dissipate, and they are air pollution when you think about it. So what I like to do, especially when I’m cooking, is I turn up the air filters that I have, and I turn on the vent hood so that that way I can get as much of that out because cooking fumes are the number two source of indoor air pollution after smoking if you still smoke in your home.
[00:17:35] I noticed that I had a problem with that in my home in Canada, where we actually upgraded the hood on our stove so that it had an outdoor vent instead of recirculating the air. Because every time I would cook, my air filters wouldn’t suddenly recognize that the indoor air quality went from blue all the way to red, and then they would turn on full volume. Like, wait, my whole family is breathing this every time I cook something on the stove. That’s not cool.
[00:18:04] Ryan: Yeah. Correct. And that’s point source in the house that we have pollution. That’s what the vents are made for. In the laundry room, in the bathrooms, and kitchen, we typically have these exhaust fans, and so these are sources of pollution in our house that we want to exhaust. So if you’re cooking, and especially if you’re using gas, you need to be using that vent all the time.
[00:18:22] And so that’s one way we’re going to exhaust it out. Now, the other thing you mentioned with air purification units, either a standalone unit, or a built in HVAC system, uh, where we’re pulling the particles out of the air. So we got that, and then we got bringing the fresh air in, exhausting the stale air, and those are really the two ways we hit air quality.
[00:18:43] Dave: Very good advice on what to do there. I haven’t solved the cooking thing. I still notice that the air quality goes down when I cook indoors, but I want to ask you this. How important is the gas stove versus electrical?
[00:18:58] Ryan: With the electric range, you’re going to have an EMF field from– you’re going to have a magnetic field. So if you’re standing next to it, you’re going to be exposed to this magnetic field. Now, I prefer gas, but I’m also very strict about making sure that I’m ventilating properly. I have a pretty strong fan.
[00:19:13] I crack the door a little bit in the kitchen to make sure we have positive air flow going through the house. And then I also have air filters, one in every room, just as a backup. But yeah, every time we cook inside, if we’re cooking fish or something, they’re going to kick on for a little bit. You’re going to filter that out. But super critical with gas. Make sure to exhaust it out. Otherwise, I don’t really feel like it’s too big of a problem, but just make sure you’re managing that.
[00:19:38] Dave: Okay. If you had a choice to improve the quality of human lives and you could ban either gas, stoves, or politicians, which one would you ban?
[00:19:49] Ryan: Ooh, that’s a tough one. Politicians, for sure.
[00:19:54] Dave: All right. Maybe those decisions are not our government’s decision to make for us, um, just like lighting is also our decision. No one else’s. As we’re recording this, this is the first month that the US government has outlawed the only type of light bulbs that are good for you, which was incandescent and halogen. So now you can only buy the ones that create lots of EMFs and lots of visual stress that dysregulated our bodies, which are LED light bulbs.
[00:20:24] Ryan: Yeah, so if you were to say, what’s the sixth thing that affects us? I would say lighting. Lighting is huge. It’s what you talk about with circadian rhythm and red light. You’ve been talking about that for years. So that’s super critical in the home, to make sure we have our lighting dialed in. But not just the color spectrum, but the flicker rate, which is where we get into with the LEDs.
[00:20:42] They have a flicker rate, and that’s what makes them efficient. They’re on for a period of time, and they’re off and on. This is happening so fast that to us, it perceives as natural light, like the sun. But if you measure it, then the brain knows that it’s actually a flicker rate. And that actually affects quite a lot of people.
[00:20:58] I’ve had people tell me– I’ll go into their home, and they say, well, I don’t really like having the lights on. I don’t feel that great with the lights on. I say, what about when you go outside? Does the sunlight bother you? Well, no, the sunlight doesn’t bother me. That’s fine. Okay, well, it’s not the light that’s bothering you. It’s that flicker rate and the too much blue light in it that’s the problem.
[00:21:16] Dave: I’m a little torn because you mentioned earlier candles in air pollution. I would rather have candlelight than LED light in the evenings because LED light is so disruptive. I can see the flicker, and a lot of people can’t see it. I have a very fast brain, and it’s just not good for you. And I know what it does to my sleep. Why are candles bad?
[00:21:39] Ryan: It’s not necessarily the candle or the flame. It’s what they’re making the candles out of. So if we’re using petroleum-based candles, and then they’re adding fragrances into it, now we’re releasing those particles into the air, and we’re breathing it in. If you were using natural beeswax with essential oil, that’s not a problem. It’s what’s in the candles that you’re breathing in that’s the problem.
[00:22:00] Dave: Right. So they’re putting the same stuff that’s in Glade air freshener into a petroleum or a soy-based candle, and then it makes little, basically, exhaust into the air. Uh, a pure beeswax candle also creates air pollution. It’s just less harmful air pollution. And I would rather do that than bad lighting.
[00:22:23] It seems like you can get wax-based LED candles that are dim enough that they don’t create too much of a problem. I actually have those all over my house because it’s easy and low cost. It’s a lot gentler light than having these direct overhead LEDs, now that I can’t just have a normal light bulb.
[00:22:42] Okay. So light pollution is a part of it. Your company, Test My Home, is an interesting company. It seems like we’re going to need a lot more of this over time because our government has completely given up on any standards that are around human health. It’s more like, which industry profits most by them forcing you to make your house the way you don’t want it to be? So are you franchising this thing? Are you planning to grow it? Are you going to hire a bunch of people? How do you make it so this is available to everyone?
[00:23:17] Ryan: Yeah. Right now, we’re in five locations. Boise, Salt Lake, Phoenix, Austin, and LA, and we’re really focusing on building our systems, making sure everything is locked tight, and that we have a good product for the right price. And then once we have that really dialed in, we’re either going to franchise or go nationwide with it because you’re right. It is something that everybody needs.
[00:23:36] And I think that if we’ve learned anything over the last couple of years, is that it’s up to us to really take care of our health. The people that we thought were supposed to look out for us, obviously do not have our best interest in mind, unfortunately, and so it is up to us and companies like ours, and you, and the education you do to really teach people how to be healthy and how to live in the modern world that we have. Because it’s hard to navigate. There’s a lot of noise out there, and it’s important to really cut through that noise and get down to what’s really important.
[00:24:05] Dave: So Ryan, clearly, they’re doing it for your own safety. So if you could just relax and parrot the party line, we’d all be a lot better off. All right?
[00:24:13] Ryan: Yes, do what you’re told.
[00:24:15] Dave: Uh, well said. Okay. Let’s talk about some of the other stuff that’s going on in your home. Mold, yes, we’ve talked about that, and I’ve done several episodes about it. Homebiotic is one of my companies that makes a probiotic spray that you put in your house, and it’s something that I feel like there’s a good body of knowledge on, and it’s getting stronger and stronger.
[00:24:41] And I’ll just say, to sum that up for people, if you smell musty stuff, you probably have a mold problem. If you don’t smell musty stuff, but you don’t feel good and you don’t have another excuse, look for mold. You can hire Ryan or one of his guys to come out and take a look if you’re in one of the five locations. And it’s testmyhome.com, right?
[00:25:02] Ryan: Right. Yeah.
[00:25:03] Dave: Okay, cool. One of the things that drives it, though, is humidity. What is the right range of humidity to have inside your home?
[00:25:11] Ryan: Ideal for the human is 45% humidity. Anything over 60%, we start getting cold surfaces, and we can have condensation. And really anything over 80, then you’re really in more of the danger zone where we’re going to have spontaneous mold growth.
[00:25:27] Dave: Where was I? Yeah, I was in Cartagena, Columbia, recently, at a hotel. Actually, at a couple hotels. The outside humidity was 99%. It was crazy. And of course, the AC is on, running full blast in the hotels because it’s really hot. And if you open the door to your hotel room to the outside, within one minute, the floor would have standing water from condensation, that hot, wet, dense air hitting cold floor to the point there were signs everywhere saying, watch out. You could fall down.
[00:26:04] But everywhere smelled like mold. I was in Sofitel, which is a nice hotel. The bed sheets smelled like mold because you can’t seem to get away from it. People who live in really human environments, how are they ever going to have a place where there isn’t mold indoors if they have air conditioning?
[00:26:22] Ryan: They have to build their homes accordingly. And I don’t know down there, but I know in Mexico, we have a lot of concrete. Well, you don’t see drywall down there, especially along the coast. You don’t see carpet as well. It’s cement floors. It’s cement walls. It’s brick. It’s material that is not conducive to mold growth, but they also keep it really clean too, and that’s another thing, is you got to take the food source away.
[00:26:43] So mold needs water. It needs a food source, which can be an organic material, and then it needs a mold spore. So mold spores are going to be in the environment everywhere. We can’t really control that. Moisture, we can control to a certain extent, except for the situation you’re talking about. So then the third thing is, let’s take away their food source. So we can take one of those legs out of the three-legged stool. We’re not going to have a problem. So that’s typically how we address it in human climates.
[00:27:07] Dave: It’s funny. At a hotel down there, it’s going to be drywall, it’s going to be wallpaper, all this stuff that’s terrible, but a traditional home would just be concrete, and it’s much less of an issue. You also could put airlocks in, and I don’t see this very often, but if you walk into, say, a common grocery store, there’s two doors for a reason.
[00:27:29] So you never have it opened up, and if I lived in a really humid part of the world, I would want to build that into my home too. So my entryway when I open the outer doors, humidity comes in. It stops there. And then I close the outer door, and I open the inner door so that your home is still clean. What about Airbnbs? It feels like soon as you check out, they seem to turn off the AC. Wouldn’t you have 80% humidity in a really warm house after that?
[00:27:53] Ryan: Yeah. Airbnbs are really a challenge. Going into the Airbnb, first thing I like to do is look in the toilet tank and see if we got any mold growth. Also, click on the HVAC if we smell musty. It’s tough though. You’ve already checked in. You paid for it. That’s your place. Now you find out there’s mold in it. I don’t know. What do you do? That’s a tough one. But yeah, that’s a challenge.
[00:28:14] Dave: It’s a little bit scary if you own Airbnbs right now. The usage of Airbnbs is going down, and the rates are going down. So a lot of people thought they had a sustainable piece of real estate, and maybe they don’t. So I think we’re going to see a decline in real estate prices as people have to unload Airbnbs that aren’t producing.
[00:28:32] One of the reasons they don’t produce is people have figured out if you’re at a hotel, they recirculate the air, but they maintain it well. So if the whole building is moldy, you’re screwed, but you just don’t stay there anymore, but I would say at least half of hotels are relatively safe from a mold perspective, even if the air isn’t that fresh, uh, because it’s recirculated.
[00:28:55] So I tend to avoid Airbnbs unless they’re high-end or well-rated, uh, because of the mold problem. And it’s not nice because you save money on Airbnbs, but the number of them that are moldy, it’s a problem. Have you ever thought of, with Test My Home, certifying Airbnbs, say this is one that’s tested and clean? I’d pay more for one of those.
[00:29:16] Ryan: Yeah. That’s one thing that we’re working on that we have in place of the healthy home certification program. And once we get bigger and have more data behind it, we would love to approach Airbnbs and vacation rentals to have that healthy home certification so that you know as a consumer, walking into this home, that it is mold-free.
[00:29:33] We have air filtration, we have water filters, we’re using organic sheets, we’re using non-toxic cleaning supplies, and it’s gone through rigorous testing yearly to achieve that. And as you know, we have an Airbnb, which we do that to our Airbnb. And it’s fairly popular because of that reason. We have the no EMF. It’s hardwired, and all the important things. So I think that should become more standard. But I don’t think the general public is there yet.
[00:29:57] Dave: Yeah, that was a beautiful place to stay up there in Meridian. And that’s Meridian, Idaho, where there, by the way, is an Upgrade Labs now, which is super cool. That’s open. So I came up to–
[00:30:10] Ryan: Right by my house too. That’s nice. I didn’t have to invest in all that stuff to put down in my man cave. I can just go about half a mile from my house, and I have all the cool stuff.
[00:30:20] Dave: And by the way, I guess I should have said that at the introduction, but that’s, uh, how I met Ryan, is I was going up there to the grand opening of the Meridian Upgrade Labs, and I got to stay in his Airbnb that was perfect environmentally. I was so blown away. How do you know?
[00:30:36] I was like, well, I run a company that does this. So that was cool. One of the best Airbnbs I’ve ever stayed in. And by the way, if you’re saying Upgrade Labs? What? You can go to ownanupgradelabs.com, and you can open a franchise like they just did in Meridian outside of Boise. And that’s something that’s now happening, more than a dozen locations opening across the US. I’m pretty excited about it. And all of those, by the way, we do pay attention to our indoor environmental quality so that you feel good when you’re at an Upgrade Labs.
We’ve talked about humidity is something that people can control. If you have too much humidity, what do you do about it?
[00:31:14] Ryan: So that’s where we start doing environmental controls and creating systems to help pull the humidity out. You can run a dehumidifier. Air conditioning systems will, by nature, pull the moisture out of the air as well. Running an ERV, energy recovery ventilator, will also pull out moisture. But all these things use energy, so there is that trade off. But those are the three typical ways we deal with moisture in the home.
[00:31:37] Dave: Got it. I’ve seen locations where the air conditioner, because it creates moisture, they actually put the moisture to evaporate inside the home, which is going to create mold. So a good air conditioner is going to channel the moisture into a drainage system that goes outside the house, right?
[00:31:57] Ryan: Correct. Yeah, correct.
[00:31:59] Dave: That’s really important. What about carbon monoxide?
[00:32:03] Ryan: Yeah, so that’s a silent killer. That’s a dangerous one. You hear these tragic stories where families fall asleep, and they never wake up, and we don’t want that to happen to anybody. And that comes from burning fossil fuels. So our cars put off carbon monoxide. Your water heater can potentially put off carbon monoxide.
[00:32:18] Now, they should have ventilation systems that pull that out to the outside, but sometimes those fail. Sometimes those get plugged up. I was actually staying in an Airbnb once when I went in, and it just didn’t smell right. And I’m doing some investigation. It was a basement level of a house that in the mechanical room, they had the fresh air return that came in to supply air to vent the heater to go out, and they had stuffed a pillow in it.
[00:32:41] And so I called the guy up. I said, what’s going on? Why is there– oh, well, that blows cold air in in the wintertime. So we plug that up to save some energy. I said, that’s your fresh air intake system, which provides, uh, ventilation for your water heater. That’s super critical, to have that. And taught him a little lesson about that.
[00:32:59] But it’s really important that we check these systems and check the ventilation on them and make sure that they’re out ventilating properly. And there’s carbon monoxide meters that you can buy that I would recommend put next to any gas appliance that you have in your house because heaven forbid anything horrible happened like that to you. So that’s an easy fix.
[00:33:17] Dave: Especially in your bedrooms. And I’ve known a large number of people who’ve been poisoned by toxic mold in their homes, but I have a few other friends who were poisoned by carbon monoxide, where chronic exposure over long periods of time, not enough to kill you outright, but enough to just weaken you. It can create long-term effects, and it’s hard to heal from. So this is a 50-dollar problem. You get a carbon monoxide detector. You have it running in the house. A lot of modern smoke detectors do that as well. Then you know.
[00:33:47] Ryan: But I want to point something out with that. What we’re talking about will measure down to about 400 parts per million. So they’re set to save your life, but they’re not the long-term chronic illness that you’re talking.
[00:33:59] Dave: Oh, really?
[00:34:00] Ryan: You want exposure levels less than one parts per million. So if we have a small leak where maybe it’s up to a 100 parts per million, it’s enough that over time, chronically, you’re feeling fatigued, and brain fog, and just wore down. And I’ve seen situations like this where we’ve gone to a new home, and we test. We have sensitive meters and find we have a small leak. Not high enough to set off the meters because they set those meter levels pretty high so that everybody doesn’t call the fire department when they go off on Thanksgiving dinner. It’s really meant to save your life.
[00:34:32] So I would recommend, in addition to having the meters or the monitors, which will save your life, but also you can go on Amazon and buy the actual carbon monoxide meter that will go a lot lower and just do regular checks just to make sure you don’t have those low levels that are giving you that chronic exposure.
[00:34:49] Dave: How much does that cost for one of those meters?
[00:34:52] Ryan: You can get a good one online for 50 bucks.
[00:34:54] Dave: Okay, so not terribly expensive.
[00:34:56] Ryan: No, not at all.
[00:34:57] Dave: If you’re a parent, this is probably even more important, just to make sure that the space for your kids is safe, especially if you’re just not feeling right. Okay, what could it be? Look at mold. Look at carbon monoxide. Those are those things that are hard to spot. All right. Let’s talk about VOCs. Where do those come from in homes?
[00:35:16] Ryan: VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds, and those come from the off-gassing from specific chemicals throughout the house. So that new carpet smell that you smell, or the new paint smell, those are VOCs. They’re evaporating out, and we’re breathing them in. Nail polish remover, or the fragrance, all these are VOCs. They’re chemicals that are getting into the air that we’re breathing in. That’s where they come from.
[00:35:41] Dave: One of the things that drives me crazy is if you get paint or someone comes in to paint something, the paint puts out VOCs for a long period of time. You buy a typical foam mattress, or any furniture these days, you’re getting volatile organic chemicals. And these irritate your lungs, your kidneys, your liver. They create systemic inflammation, brain fog. They’re just bad for you.
[00:36:07] So I’m going to assume that lots of people listening to this, you maybe don’t have control over what your house is painted in because landlords do what landlords will do, especially these big corporate landlords that have been buying up all the single family homes so that they can stop maintaining them and make a profit for a while. What do you do about VOCs in your environment where you can’t rip out all your carpets and change your walls?
[00:36:33] Ryan: The biggest thing I recommend in that situation is getting fresh air in the home. It comes back to what we were talking about. These homes are airtight. They’re not breathing. Crack a couple windows. If you don’t have a fresh air ventilation system, then I would say, every morning, for 15 minutes, go around and open up all the windows.
[00:36:48] Flush all that out. Start with brand new fresh air. And then in the evening, do the same thing. Now, the only caveat to that is if it’s a high pollution day, if you’re in the inner city, or if it’s a fire day and the smoke is pretty bad, those days we want to keep things closed up. But in general, we want to get fresh air into the home.
[00:37:06] Now, also the humidity can be a factor too. If it’s a really humid day outside, make sure you have some way to control that humidity if you’re going to let all that humidity into the house. So it’s not always a cut and dry answer, but generally, installing an ERV system that’s going to pull in the fresh air that’s going to pull out the humidity it’s going to bring. But if you’re renting, then it’s hard. So those are some of the things we can do. Fresh air.
[00:37:32] Dave: Okay. Fresh air matters so much. The other thing that I like to do that has been a practice of mine for years, if you get something that smells like plastic, those are VOCs. If it smells like paint, it could possibly be formaldehyde, which we’re going to talk about in a minute. But what I’ll do is I’ll take them, and put them in the sun for a day or two, and you heat them up. And if it’s winter, then you put them in a closed room with a strong heat source and a cracked window.
[00:38:07] So what you’re doing there is you’re baking it out because they’re volatile, which means they respond to heat. So you can take a pretty stinky foam thing. You leave it outside in the sun for three days. It’s not going to smell very much because you’re baking out most of it. And the sun can damage some things, but that seems to work well.
[00:38:25] Even with cars, that new car smell, I do the same thing. I put it in the sun, leave the car running all day with the heater on full blast and a window cracked just a little bit. So the inside of the car is just uncomfortable. You would not want to be in there, but what you’re doing, you’re creating circulation and heat to just get that new car smell out so it doesn’t give you a headache every time you drive. Anything else that works for absorbing VOCs?
[00:38:50] Ryan: Uh, you can use carbon air filtration. That also works. So air filters, air purification systems that have carbon in it. They need to have the activated carbon. Some of these filters just have a little layer over the top. And when the carbon has absorbed it to its max, like a sponge, it’s not going to absorb anymore.
[00:39:06] So you need a pretty good carbon air filtration system. So the bakeout process, ventilation, and the air purification. Those are really the three main ways to handle it. But my favorite way is to not bring it in the home in the first place, or build a home, if you can, from scratch that doesn’t have the VOCs, or buy a home that’s a couple years old that’s already off-gas. And if we don’t have the source in the first place, then it’s a lot easier to deal with.
[00:39:32] Dave: That comment there about not buying a brand new home, totally worth it. Things do off-gas over time. If you get a well-maintained home that’s five years old, it’s going to be infinitely healthier than a traditionally built new home. If you’re building a new home, you can build low-toxin homes. It is very expensive.
[00:39:51] My home in Victoria that we’ve been working on for quite a while has been built up to those standards. It takes a lot longer, and it costs a lot more, but then you get a place that feels amazing. And here’s the thing. If you’re a good shopper, you can find homes on the market that were built by people who know what they’re doing. And they typically don’t sell for a lot more because people don’t know how to sell them or that they should buy them. So it’s possible to buy or rent homes made by people who wanted to live in them. And that’s something that takes a different lens on reality, to be able to do that.
[00:40:26] What about formaldehyde, though? How is it different from VOCs, and what does formaldehyde do?
[00:40:30] Ryan: Formaldehyde is a form of VOC, but it’s a lot more dangerous, whereas maybe some of the VOC off-gas we talked about before, at this level right here, might be dangerous, but formaldehyde, it doesn’t take very much of it to be dangerous. So we measure that separately. We keep track of that separately because it’s a lot more toxic.
[00:40:51] Dave: It’s interesting how a lot of vehicles have formaldehyde. My former wife spent a lot of time in medical school with cadavers full of formaldehyde and got sensitized to it. So some people have an immune response to it. And a long time, we bought an RV. RVs are well known for having formaldehyde, if you remember the FEMA trailer things for formaldehyde. And it’s used in the glue, and it’s used in the building materials.
[00:41:20] So you can have these RVs and these trailers where just being in them kills you over time because formaldehyde at those levels, it does really bad things to all of your detox systems. It’s a potent poison. So if that’s happening, the only thing you can do is ventilate or get out. So I had a walking formaldehyde detector, which was my partner, and she’d feel it right away. Headaches, dizziness, and things like that.
[00:41:50] So a lot of times, we think, oh, something’s wrong with me. No, there’s something wrong with your environment, and your body is responding to a threat. Okay. Let’s talk about the other thing that I think doesn’t get enough attention. Sewer gas. What’s in it? Why is it bad for us?
[00:42:05] Ryan: Yeah, that’s an interesting one we’ve run across every once in a while. In fact, I just did an inspection the other day where when they put in the new toilet, they didn’t put the wax ring in. Not only was that leaking out water every time they flushed and waste, which was nasty and getting underneath the flooring, but it was leaking the sewer gas out, which can have formaldehyde in it.
[00:42:25] It can also have hydrogen sulfide and a whole range of other toxic things that we have in the sewer. And so that’s getting released in the air. We’re breathing that in. People in there were getting sick, just weren’t feeling well. Some headaches, nausea. That’s something you want to check. Then also the venting, the way the venting goes.
[00:42:42] Now, sometimes I go down to New Mexico. We do some testing. We do travel for testing for people. And down there, a lot of their exhausting for their sewers is not done properly, and they’re in these higher rises, and we could have the exhaust from your neighbor going right into the window of your house, and you breathe this stuff in, and you’re not feeling well.
[00:43:01] Dave: Yes, man. That is something that is such a big deal. You get a neighbor’s sewage exhaust, and hydrogen sulfide is nasty. It’s actually a mitochondrial toxin like cyanide. And strangely enough, methylene blue can help you with that. But very small amounts of hydrogen sulfide can help to relax your blood vessels.
[00:43:26] So there’s probably a tiny little dose that might not be bad for you. It is a signaling gas in humans, but if you can smell that sewage smell, you do not want to be sleeping in it. You do not want to be exposed to that for long periods of time. It will mess with you in a really serious way. So mold and sewage fumes are both meaningful sources of problem. All right. Let’s talk about ozone pollution because I’m a huge fan of ozone therapy. Talk to me about ozone pollution versus ozone therapy.
[00:43:57] Ryan: Ozone is a really strong oxidizer, and it’s really good for breaking down bacteria, breaking down mold, oxidizing things. But what it’s not very good for is our lungs. So when we breathe it into our lungs, it can be very dangerous. Now, you’ve got HACCP machines. You can ozone saunas, you can bathe in it, you can inject with your blood, you can do it nasally to help take care of mold. It can be very therapeutic, but for our lungs, it’s very, very toxic.
[00:44:21] And so ozone generally is created outside when we have the car exhaust, the pollution, and then we have the sun that hits it, and it creates a chain reaction and ground level ozone. Now, that can get into our homes. We can breathe that in. So that’s typically where we see ozone. But some of the biohacking stuff that creates ozone, we want to be cautious of that too. And so if we’re using those machines, make sure we’re having it ventilated well in those rooms.
[00:44:49] Dave: This is something that’s really important to understand about ozone. Ozone therapy only works if you put the ozone in your veins, in your butt, in your vagina, in your ear canals. It does not work to breathe ozone. Ozone is very toxic for your lungs. And in fact, this happened at my biohacking conference.
[00:45:16] We had air filters for staff in the back rooms, and the air filters have the ability to turn on ozone, which destroys odors. But you’re supposed to turn that on when you’re not in the room. So if you want to get rid of smells, turn on the ozone feature, leave, remove plants, and remove pets, and then it’ll make a room so that it’s sterilized.
[00:45:40] But someone had turned it on in one of the staff rooms, and I walked in there like, why do I smell ozone? If everyone breathes this including me, I’m not going to be able to speak after. I’ll lose my voice because my lungs are going to get irritated. So because I smelled it, we turned off that feature on it.
[00:45:56] So do not sit in a room with an ozone generator thinking it’s healthy for you. It is bad for you. But it’s nice to have ozone running when no one’s in the room, and then you ventilate it. You open the windows. And that can destroy all kinds of odors and smells, and it can even remove VOCs by oxidizing them. So don’t breathe ozone, would be the biggest piece of knowledge there, right?
[00:46:20] Ryan: Yes.
[00:46:22] Dave: Okay. What is surface radiation? That’s something else you test for.
[00:46:27] Ryan: Surface radiation can come downwind from nuclear facilities, nuclear power plants. When they exhaust stuff out, the whole idea there is that it’s going to get diluted in the environment to a certain point where the government considers it safe. I don’t think that ionizing radiation is safe for us because it’s cancer-causing, carcinogenic, but we can find it from– if you live in the Southwest area, back in the ’40s and ’50s, they let off a lot of nuclear bombs doing testing out there in the desert.
[00:46:59] That fallout is going to be around for another 20,000 years. It doesn’t just go away overnight. So in the soils, in the dust that comes through. So we can get radiation that can show up in our house, on our surfaces. But another big source that we see a lot of times is the granite and marble countertops, depending on where that was mined in the country, it could have various levels of radon gas in it and radiation from the uranium that are off-gassing it. So we do test those for people. And I do come across it regularly where we see elevated radiation levels in the countertops.
[00:47:35] Dave: So interesting. I grew up in New Mexico. In fact, my grandparents were at Los Alamos National Labs, which is where they invented radiation as well as a lot of nuclear power that actually is a very clean source of power, the modern ones, which most of the time, they’re harder to build because of regulations. But if you really want lots of cheap power with fully encapsulated pollution compared to coal or even solar, they’re advantages.
[00:48:07] Setting off bombs. We’ve set off about a 1,000 bombs on the surface of the planet, and it’s so weird how the mindset from the ’40s and ’50s was basically, oh yeah, let’s set up a bomb in the middle of the ocean, an atomic bomb. What could go wrong? I don’t know. There’s a lot of animals throughout the ocean that are going to get a shockwave, and you’re going to kill them all. But it was almost complete lack of understanding that we’re part of the system. It would have been better if we didn’t have all the bombs tested that we have had done. Since that radiation is left over, is there anything we can do to make sure that we don’t have it in our homes?
[00:48:48] Ryan: And that brings up a good point I want to talk about, is cleanliness of the home is super important that will negate a lot of these issues, de-dusting your home, regular cleaning, at least wiping down the surfaces weekly, including floors, countertops, because a lot of the stuff is going to build up in the dust.
[00:49:05] These particles are going to end up in the dust. And when we measure dust in homes, it’s typically made up of dead skin cells, insect parts, insect feces, mold particles, bacteria, pesticides, herbicides. And of course, you could have dust in it from fallout or other chemicals from the outside that’s getting in as well. So doing a really thorough cleaning of the house is probably one of the biggest biohacks you can do. Keep a clean home. I mean, I can’t say enough about that.
[00:49:34] Dave: Got it. So it comes down to the annoying stuff. Cleaning your home.
[00:49:38] Ryan: Yeah.
[00:49:41] Dave: What is the ideal cleaning frequency?
[00:49:44] Ryan: I would say at least weekly going through. I’m a little bit more of a clean freak just because of all the testing and the nasty stuff that I see and I know what’s in the air and in the dust, so I’m pretty– I got air filters in every room, and we have a cleaning crew that comes in once a week, and they wipe down every surface. I don’t think you need to do much more than that, but at least a good weekly wipe down.
[00:50:08] Dave: Yeah, it’s a pain in the ass to do, but it’s worth it. I have an air filter in every room, and you can see how much dust those things pick up. You look in the filter. You’re like, my God, that would have been on a surface, or I would have been breathing it. And anything new, new clothes, or new sheets, or towels, whatever, anything I buy, get washed before I do it.
[00:50:30] There’s proper ventilation for the dryer because dryer exhaust puts a lot of small particulate plastic into the air. It’s a big deal. All right. What else can we cover in the time we’ve got? All right, let’s talk about the different size of particulate matter that’s in our homes. And a little story about that.
[00:50:50] I’ve been interested in everything in the environment that we can change to improve our performance. So I bought a meter that found the 2.5 particles and the larger ones. And it actually also detected VOCs. And the reason I bought this was, when I would fly in airplanes, I was so interested in airplane air quality, because I fly a lot.
[00:51:13] I thought, this is crazy. Well, what I found was that old aircraft had a problem because they would get, uh, VOCs in particular, because of the way they compressed air during takeoff and landing, especially. And I could smell it sometimes. And newer aircraft didn’t have the problem because they had better air filtering systems in it.
[00:51:34] So during takeoff and landing, you’d see this spike in VOCs and sometimes small particulates, but only on refurbished aircraft. So not like you have much choice about what airplane you fly on, but at least now you know the air quality is not the same on every airplane. But in a home, what’s creating the 2.5s versus the 10s? What’s the difference in sizes, and why should we care?
[00:51:57] Ryan: All the things I mentioned before with the dust, that’s going to be particular to the 10 size. That’s 10 microns. We can visibly see down to about 50 micron. The human hair is 70 to a 100 micron, just to give you an idea of the size that we’re talking about. Super small size. Now, when we get down to the 2.5, that’s going to be the smoke, the air pollution.
[00:52:16] If you cook steak inside, or bacon, and you got that smell, that’s going to be the 2.5 range. Get into the bigger size, the 10 range, that’s the skin cells. That’s the mold particles, the pollen, insect parts, things like that that we can breathe in. They can get lodged in the lungs, but the 2.5 can cross the barrier, get into the blood, and get into our system, and that’s really where more of the concern comes from. We get more of the allergic response from the 10 size, but the 2.5 can really get into the system deep and cause some issues.
[00:52:49] Dave: Got it. Now, what I used to do to protect myself from these small particles, especially from forest fires, because flying up to my home in British Columbia in a small plane, which is part of my commute– these fly at lower altitude, and they’re not sealed. And since we get so much smoke from burning forests, I would fly with this weird thing called an N99 mask. The kind that actually works for small particles. The kind that they wouldn’t let you wear for those three years of insanity.
[00:53:28] The ones that have little filters. Because then, when you breathe in, it’s actually properly filtered. And then when you breathe out, there’s a valve that lets the exhaust gas out. So those work for the 2.5 particles. You’d have to buy one. And I used to fly with one all the time, along with the charcoal filter in it, which would get the other parts of it so I couldn’t fly through forest fire smoke. And then strangely, they made me downgrade my mask for my own safety. Very weird. Very weird.
[00:53:57] Ryan: For your own good.
[00:53:59] Dave: So you could get one of those if you’re dealing with it outside, but inside, like I said, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning is the way to do it.
[00:54:06] Ryan: Yeah. And another tip you can do too is make sure that your air filter for your HVAC system is a good quality rated one. I like a MERV 11, MERV 13 if you have a newer unit that can handle it. You put too strong of one in there, then it could bog down the system, put some strain on it.
[00:54:23] But if you got one of those really cheap, thin ones in there, replace that with a higher quality one. And then on your thermostat, run the fan on on instead of auto. And that’s going to do two things. One, it’s going to continuously run air through the coils. So when we get that on/off action, we get condensation on the coils, and that can feed mold.
[00:54:44] So we’re going to decrease the chance that we’re going to grow mold in our system, but also we’re going to use that filter to filter out our air, and we’re going to have cleaner air quality. Now, if you notice a lot of dust on your surfaces of your home, that means that you’re not getting the adequate air filtration that you need because that dust comes from the air.
[00:55:02] So in our home, we have an air filter in every room. We also have a MERV 15 air filtration unit built into our system that runs full time. And then we have the fresh air ventilation system that is filtered, and we typically don’t see dust in our house. Of course, we overkill a little bit. It’s what I do for a living, but that’s ideal, what you want to shoot for.
[00:55:21] Dave: I did some research into MERVs, M-E-R-V, which is the rating of your air filter. And for most people listening, unless you have a special heating and air conditioning unit, you’re not going to be able to get the really, really strong things because you need extra fans because it creates a lot of resistance. Imagine trying to breathe through 10 layers of cloth. You have to really push your lungs hard. That’s the same thing with your HVAC unit? So what’s the maximum MERV filter that a typical unit is going to be able to handle?
[00:55:54] Ryan: Typical, I’ve found you’re pretty safe with the MERV 11. Much more than that, like you said, it causes resistance. If you got a little money to spend, you can have them re-adjust the filter housing. So instead of a 20 by 20, now we have a 30 by 30. We increase the MERV rating, the resistance is going to stay the same. So it’s a mathematical equation there.
[00:56:17] Dave: Okay, got it. So you can have a filter that has a bigger surface area instead of more depth, and then that would still let enough air through.
[00:56:26] Ryan: Correct.
[00:56:27] Dave: So these become home modifications. And for a lot of people listening, you live in an apartment, you live in a place you don’t have control over that. But sometimes, even if it’s a rental home, like I’m in a rental home, I can change the air filters. But I couldn’t make a modification to it that was permanent, unless I asked the guy who owns the house.
[00:56:45] Ryan: Yeah. And there’s always a fix for everybody. We meet you where you’re at, and we come up with a solution for you to make improvements. And this is just like fitness or nutrition. There’s always another level that we can take it to. You’re never going to be perfect with this stuff, but we’re always about, let’s do the low hanging fruit.
[00:57:02] Let’s hit the easy stuff, and let’s meet you where you’re at. I mentioned, we’re physically in five cities, but we do a virtual consultation. So you can get on online and book a virtual consult with one of our team members or myself, and we can help you if you’re around the world.
[00:57:18] And it’s surprising what we can do. Talk about your specific situation. Here’s some really easy fixes, some takeaways that you can implement right away. And a lot of times, they’re free solutions. You don’t have to spend a whole bunch of money to get this stuff. Now, there is the other end of it, the biohacker type people that we want to live to be 180 years old, and we’re going to take it to the extreme, but that’s not for everybody. So there’s a solution for everybody with this stuff.
[00:57:44] Dave: It’s a little frustrating because there’s a solution. It feels like there’s just an overwhelming amount of these things you could do. And you could fall into the trap of perfection. And what I like about Test My Home and just about the way you think about it is like, let’s tackle the lowest hanging fruit, which means the ones that have the least amount of work and money to do that have the biggest difference for you.
[00:58:07] And that means, well, what is the health impact of what you’re removing? How easy was it to remove? How affordable? And like I said, getting rid of dust is probably a really big deal. You can do it by dusting, which is free, other than a wet rag. Uh, you can do it with air filters, which is more expensive, but less work. And then dealing with something like mold, which is terribly important because of what it does to you, that can be expensive no matter how you slice it. And sometimes just moving to a new place is your best bet.
[00:58:37] So the way you do it, the way you think about it, Test My Home, I think, is really, really cool. Something else that you pay attention to that I find very rare, and something that biohackers probably even overlook a lot of the time, it’s noise as a form of pollution. Talk to me about noise pollution and why you include that in what you test.
[00:59:00] Ryan: So this is actually one of my favorite topics. People don’t think about noise as a stressor, as a pollution, but it absolutely is. Think about a dog barking at 4:00 in the morning, or someone else’s baby crying. Or think about your least favorite type of music playing at the park when you’re trying to enjoy yourself.
[00:59:16] These are causing stress on the body. And so we have sub harmonic frequencies that we can’t hear that can affect our body. We can have, for example, let’s say the refrigerator motor, every time it kicks on, it makes this whining sound, or the HVAC system has a leak and has a high pitch frequency that goes on.
[00:59:31] Long-term, day in and out, these things can truly affect the body and provide stress on the body. Now, the flip side of that, think about your favorite song. I have a couple of favorite songs that I love to listen to that just put me in the right mood every single time. And so music and auditory responses to the body are definitely very powerful. I just started doing this, it’s called NuCalm, I think, but you put it on, and it help soothe the body. But there’s a lot of things like that. Meditation. And it’s all stimulated with the sound. So I think, like you said, we underestimate the sound a lot.
[01:00:06] Dave: One of the questions I’ve answered maybe a 100 times on social media, people are saying, how do I feel better when I fly? And I’m like, well, okay, you’re getting huge amounts of noise pollution on an airplane. So one of the most important things you can do is have noise canceling headphones.
[01:00:25] So I like the earbuds versus the over ears for a variety of reasons. And then you put on a baseball hat, which is light pollution because they have crappy lighting and those things. And then you put on the TrueDark glasses, which filters out some of the light. And people who are just absolutely destroyed when they fly are like, oh my God, I got rid of the noise and the light stress, and then I was way more resilient, and I felt better. There you go.
[01:00:49] And in a home environment, though, if there’s humming from your neighbor’s air conditioning or something like that, it can be really annoying. So at that point, it seems like masking it, even with a white noise generator or some music might be a better thing, but there’s nothing like silence. If you have at least a room that’s relatively quiet, that should be your bedroom, right?
[01:01:10] Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. Some of my favorite projects are when we get involved with building these homes from the ground up, and people are conscious of this stuff, and we can create sound dampening in the walls. But ultimately, choosing a location that’s not next to a freeway, not next to an airport. It’s not next to the train that goes by every couple hours. Thinking about these things consciously when you’re picking out your place to live. It comes down to a lot of these different environmental issues, is choosing your home wisely. Instead of thinking, how big is it? What’s the square footage? Is it close to my favorite restaurant? Let’s think about, is it healthy? Do we get natural lighting in? Are we downwind from a factory? Are we right next to the freeway? Is there a 5G tower right there on the corner? These are the things that I want to bring awareness to people to start thinking about.
[01:01:54] Dave: Imagine living right next door to a KFC with all the fry oil in the air coming in through your bedroom window. That would be terrible. And that stuff happens. I have a little story about that that’s crazy. So I opened the first Upgrade Cafe, used to be called the Bulletproof Cafe in Santa Monica, and it’s right next door to the Upgrade Labs that’s still there today.
[01:02:21] And I opened the Bulletproof Cafe because I wanted to make grass-fed beef available in LA at restaurants. You could not buy any of it in LA at the time. I’m like, let’s plant a seed here, and it’s right underneath Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office. So we took over a space that had been a restaurant before, and it was all set up, and plumbed, and all, perfectly, for getting rid of the cooking fumes.
[01:02:45] Well, the landlord, apparently, had made some internal changes that rerouted the airflow from our vents into the back of Arnold’s trophy case. So we started getting phone calls from his team up there. Really, really nice people saying it smells like secondhand bacon up here. And I’m like, this is horrible.
[01:03:10] And I went upstairs, and it did. It smelled like someone was smoking bacon, not cigars, which is funny because if he’s the guy who’d be smoking a cigar, probably not indoors, but certainly not bacon. And I was just horrified when we found out. Did we leave a door open? Eventually, we tracked it down to this is the building’s HVAC stuff.
[01:03:31] It was a landlord issue. But the cooking fumes, they make a difference over time. So you need to pay attention to it. So we did get the landlord to fix the air routing, but I felt pretty bad because we didn’t know and there was nothing we could have done. But it’s these building maintenance things that really make a difference.
[01:03:52] Ryan: Yeah. And it’s bringing awareness to the nose. What do we smell? Like we talked about, clean doesn’t have a smell. So if we’re smelling something, what is that? I was hanging out with a group when we were downtown somewhere and had that smell of the fair, deep-fried, corn dogs, and one was like, oh, that reminds me of the fair.
[01:04:08] I love that smell. I’m like, shit, that smell like cancer to me. That’s fried oils right there. You just got to train your brain to be perceptive of what are we smelling? What are we breathing in? What are we putting on our body? Because that is a big source, a route of toxicity, what we’re breathing.
[01:04:25] Dave: What I learned to do is when I walk into a new space, now it’s automatic, but this was a conscious learning, it was a check in with my body on, how do I feel? And then if it doesn’t feel right, then you expand your senses, and you say, okay, is it a smell thing? Is it a lighting thing? Is it an auditory thing?
[01:04:46] And if it’s none of those, is it an EMF thing? And sometimes it just doesn’t feel right, and you’re not going to know it’s an EMF thing unless you’re very, very sensitive, in which case you should get your mold internally tested, or your heavy metals tested because you shouldn’t be that sensitive to EMFs when things work right.
[01:05:02] Or it could actually be your intuition telling you that you’re around people who are not good for you or someone who’s wishing you harm. Or it could be geopathic stress. And there are such things as ley lines that are measurable on the surface of the planet. And if you’re spending time sleeping on one of those or in a room where there’s of part of the Earth’s energy grid going through there, it might not be so good for you, or it might be okay for you. We don’t necessarily know.
[01:05:31] But if something doesn’t feel right, you got to figure out why. And Test My Home, what you’re doing there is, well, let’s go through the universe of those things so that when you walk into the space where you spend the most time, it’s a peaceful space that supports your ability to reset and renew yourself versus to be stressed when you’re at the part of your environment where you have the most control over. So I like that as a framework for biohacking. It’s really cool. So thank you.
[01:06:02] Ryan: Yeah. Using your body, listening to your body is one of the best things you can do. There’s a lot of times I’ll go into a situation with a home, and I’ll always ask them, what do you think is affecting your health? What is your gut telling you? And 90% of the time, they’re right. Fortunately, we have access to a lot of equipment and laboratory testing and data that we can quantify and scientifically validate what we’re seeing in the environment in relation to how they feel.
[01:06:25] And so it’s cool when their intuition is telling them, yeah, I think that back behind the shower, there’s some mold back there. I just have a weird feeling of, I don’t feel great in that room. And do a little cavity sample. Sure enough, they have that mold back there. Or there’s a gas leak somewhere. It’s crazy how our body is really trying to tell us what we need to hear if we can listen to it.
[01:06:47] Dave: One of the members of my team just had this happen. The mother’s intuition. She’s like, I keep getting these colds, and now it’s happening to my daughter. Something’s not right. It has to be mold. She looked under the washer, and sure enough, found that there’d been a leak, and it was in multiple parts of the baseboards and all that, and they pulled it out and fixed it, and now the family’s healthier again.
[01:07:10] But if you don’t know, you start this slow decline. Now you’re putting an equal amount of effort into whatever you’re doing in your life, but it doesn’t work anymore because it feels like an equal amount of effort, but you’re taking 20% of your biological reserve to dealing with the new environmental stress that you’re not thinking about.
[01:07:29] And that happened to me. Probably 80% of my energy was going into the toxic mold environment, and all the other stuff that I didn’t know. So now I have an environment that supports me to be able to do the stuff I do. I think you’ve got a really unique and awesome framework, so I think it’s great you’ve got five locations, and I’m hoping that you expand more because it ought to be pretty straightforward to be able to have you guys come in to any home and for a reasonable price, say, all right, here’s tier 1, here’s tier 2, here’s tier 3. Let’s test these out.
[01:08:01] We come to figure out what’s causing a specific problem, or just so you have a general wellness thing. Do it before you have a baby so that you have a healthy environment for yourself in order to be able to reproduce, and then for your baby when it comes, stuff like that. It’s a part of healthy living, just like going to the dentist, or something.
[01:08:19] Ryan: Yeah. And you talked about expectant mothers. We have three typical clientele that reach out to us. We have our sufferers, we have our worriers, and we have our warriors. Our warriors, that’s like me and you. Probably a lot of the listeners. The biohackers. They want to live as healthy as possible, cheat life as much, and live as long as possible.
[01:08:38] And those people are always fun to work with. They want to go to the extra mile and have all the cool stuff. Then you got your worriers, and that’s going to be your first moms. You’re a mom with a couple kids. Hey, is my home safe? Is it killing me? Am I doing all the right things? Am I protecting my family?
[01:08:52] Then you got the sufferers, and those are the people that waited too long. They ate too much fast food. They didn’t exercise. They’re using chemicals, and now they’re sick. And now they just want to get their life back. And so I really love working with those people as well because that’s the most rewarding, the most gratifying. Going into someone’s home that’s sick, finding out what’s wrong, helping them fix it, get their life back.
[01:09:13] And so we have a lot of work to do in this world, in this country. And this is a true problem. The mold, the EMF, these are the true pandemics of our time that we’re dealing with. And a lot of it just has to do with people are not educated. And that’s why I’m so grateful you had me come on the podcast to talk about this, to teach people, to bring awareness to this. And I know you talk about it a lot too. The environment, the toxicity, the upstream causes are truly some of the foundations for the illnesses and the sicknesses that we’re seeing. So a lot of it starts with the environment.
[01:09:45] Dave: Well, I was truly impressed, uh, with the work that you’d done at your Airbnb, uh, that I said, I’m like, wow, this guy really knows what he’s talking about. And, uh, I got a chance to meet with you. And I’m happy that you shared this on the show with everyone. So I look forward to, uh, a lot more people knowing about what you’re doing, maybe even some people chatting with you about expanding what you’re doing into their parts of the world, because this is something we all need.
[01:10:11] Your government will not make you have a safe home. Regulations are not about safety in your home. They’re not about health. They’re about making sure you spend money on industrial things like flame retardants that aren’t even good for you. So no one else is going to do it except for you. And if you don’t know how to do it, that’s okay. There’s books, there’s podcasts, and there’s now services.
[01:10:33] Ryan: Yes.
[01:10:34] Dave: So thank you so much. I’m looking forward to learning more about what you’re doing, and I really enjoyed our episode.
[01:10:42] Ryan: Yeah. And so I put together something for the listeners, for you guys. So we do also have a course online that comes with some testing equipment to try to service everybody else because we would get calls from across the country. But what we did is we made a condensed down version of that called the five-day challenge that I want to offer to all the listeners for five bucks.
[01:11:02] It’s probably a 1,500-dollar program that we typically sell. So if you’ve listened this long and you’re still here with us, you can go to happyhome5. That’s the number five. .com. And we have a really cool five-day challenge where we dive in, and it’s five days worth of looking at your home, going over the low-hanging fruit, providing a lot of value, and really trying to make a big impact for your lives with what you can do today. Take-away things.
[01:11:31] It’s also going to help uncover if maybe you have a bigger issue. And if you do, then we’re going to have some resources for you. Of course, we have our five locations that we can come right out to your home and do the thorough analysis. If you want to pay travel, though, we do travel Canada, Mexico, across the country. We can send the team out. Of course, that’s a little bit more expensive because we’re paying for plane tickets, and hotels, and rental cars, but we do do that, and there is a lot of people that take advantage of that. And of course, we have our remote testing program as well. But at least, go to that website. At least get that course and go through.
[01:12:06] Dave: Thanks again. So guys, that’s happyhome5.com for a bunch of free stuff. I just want you to be not healthy. I want you to be happy, and I want you to be thriving, because healthy is table stakes. We’re all supposed to be healthy anyway, and we’re not because of our environments because of a lot of stuff that’s not working the way it’s supposed to be. But the goal is not to be normal. The goal is not to feel okay. The goal is not to be healthy. The goal is to be absolutely kicking ass. And part of that is having a home that supports you kicking ass. And now you know more than you did before. I’ll see you on the next episode.