Beautiful house, but is it a healthy home?
By Heather Mooney
For homeowners and home buyers, most time and energy is focused on a home’s aesthetics and practicalities. Does the color of the paint give the room a warm and inviting feeling? How well will that countertop stand up to years of use? How will some remodeling or outdoor landscaping create a better space to entertain your friends and family? A home functions as a sanctuary for you and your loved ones and sets the tone for your quality of life.
Now that you’ve found a perfect art piece for that spot above the fireplace, fixtures for the master bathroom, and pillows for the guest bedroom, consider one more element; is your beautiful home truly healthy and safe? Currently, indoor air pollution is ranked by the EPA as one of the top five environmental risks to public health. Since most Americans spend approximately 90% of their time indoors, this major impact to health should not be overlooked.
“Toxins in your home may come from the materials chosen in your home’s construction, ‘off-gassing,’ or releasing toxic fumes and vapors in your home. They may also come from mold or mildew build-up, radon, combustible gases, carbon monoxide, and more.”
–Samantha Blaser, Founder/Owner, Test My Home
A few years ago, Ryan and Samantha Blaser were dealing with health issues and their medical doctors did not offer any clear explanations for their symptoms’ causes. An electrical engineer by trade, Ryan also had worked as an air quality specialist, broadband and radio frequency installer, contractor for nuclear waste cleanup, and environmental engineer and designer. After some extensive investigation, he came to realize that their house was making them sick. Rather than abandoning the home or moving to another one, Ryan used his background and experience to fix what was threatening their health. In the process, it became clear that they were not the only family experiencing toxic environmental exposure in their own house.
As a result of their personal experience, Ryan and Samantha founded Test My Home in 2017. Samantha explains, “When we were trying to make our own home healthy, we couldn’t find anyone who offered comprehensive testing. We knew how difficult the process was for us and how little information was easily accessible.”
They didn’t just stop at testing. Ryan is now certified by the National Institute of Building Biology and Ecology to test homes and guide homeowners with a plan to make their homes safe, healthy, and supportive of their lifestyle. The basics of Building Biology drive their approach to home health. “Building Biology is about having the comforts of the modern home, but in the most natural way possible,” explains Ryan.
In recent history, factors such as polluted indoor air, lead paint, and asbestos have been unseen and undetected factors that have result in unsafe homes. Today, a variety of chemicals and toxins pollute our indoor air and negatively affect our short- and long-term health. Samantha explains some common sources of harmful chemicals, saying, “Toxins in your home may come from the materials chosen in your home’s construction, ‘off-gassing,’ or releasing toxic fumes and vapors in your home. They may also come from mold or mildew build-up, radon, combustible gases, carbon monoxide, and more. Over time, many families unknowingly add to the problem with pesticides, toxic cleaning chemicals, perfumes, flame retardants in furniture, and electromagnetic frequency (EMF) exposure.”
Ryan describes EMF and how it has changed in our environment, saying, “Electricity, FM radio, TV, microwave, bluetooth, Wi-Fi, radar, visible light, x-rays, and nuclear energy are all electromagnetic frequencies (EMF). Within the last 100 years, we’ve been exposed to levels of EMF that are billions, if not trillions, of times higher than we have ever experienced in all of human evolution.” Unnraveling the basics of why EMF can be stressful to some, he continues, “On the most basic level, our heart works on electric impulse, as does our mind and nervous system. In fact, our very cells communicate in two ways—chemically and electrically. When you introduce artificial frequencies, especially at the higher powers emitted by our many wireless devices, it can disrupt cellular communication, causing oxidative stress and all sorts of health problems. The spectrums of light and Wi-Fi, both electromagnetic frequencies, are so close that the body doesn’t know the difference. For someone who has trouble sleeping, we can test for levels of EMF in their sleeping area. Reducing EMF through simple things like turning off Wi-Fi in the bedroom at night, or using shielded electrical lines, can make all the difference for their sleep.”
Whether for an existing home, potential purchase, or new build, Test My Home starts each process with information gathering. Every small detail gets considered. They start with the perimeter of the homesite and work their way inside, gathering details that help them understand the home and how it could affect its occupants. Using their extensive testing, they address a multitude of factors from the natural building site to water and air quality and EMF exposure. Air quality is high on their list of things to inspect. “As homes have become more air-tight, maintaining healthy air flow is not always well-executed,” notes Ryan.
“Within the last 100 years, we’ve been exposed to levels of EMF that are billions, if not trillions, of times higher
than we have ever experienced in all of human evolution.”
–Ryan Blaser, Founder/Owner, Test My Home
Test My Home approaches their work through a joint education with their clients rather than simply identifying issues. “A lot of people don’t know what things can be making them sick. We help educate them,” notes Samantha. “Many times, we experience symptoms long enough that we don’t even realize they are symptoms anymore. We’re about getting to root environmental causes and alleviating symptoms for good,” she continues.
Test My Home has developed a “Healthy Home Certification” program to ensure that the home truly is a sanctuary of health. Clients are offered peace of mind that their dwelling has been certified as a clean and safe environment. Test My Home also works with clients and their realtors, providing a comprehensive inspection prior to a potential purchase. “Unlike a typical building inspection, we test for all potentially harmful elements from the plot of land to the building materials themselves, to the air and water quality,” Ryan explains. They especially love working with people who are designing their new home from the beginning. “We can help with architectural and design choices—things like radiant heating, fresh air return, wall finishes, and water filtration. Healthier choices aren’t any more expensive and are just as easy to implement when you choose them from the beginning,” he continues.
“It is so rewarding to come into a home, find where the problems are, and watch our clients get healthy again.”
–Samantha Blaser, Founder/Owner, Test My Home
After they’ve completed testing, Test My Home helps to create a mitigation plan that is customized to a client’s needs and budget. They consult about products and materials and offer support to contractors or any other professionals involved with the home. “It is so rewarding to come into a home, find where the problems are, and watch our clients get healthy again,” shares Samantha. “Our homes should be sanctuaries where we can be comfortable and healthy, rather than making us sick,” she adds. With their personal approach and scientific depth, Test My Home supports each client in creating a home that is truly a dream home. “We spend so much of our time indoors and that space should make us feel alive and well,” says Samantha in closing.