John Banta

My introduction to the downside of indoor air quality occurred along with my introduction to fatherhood in 1980. Like many first-time parents, my wife and I wanted to welcome our newborn by decorating the nursery. We painted and carpeted the room in anticipation of our new arrival. The room smelled of chem­icals and I noticed that I did not feel well in there. But it wasn’t until our baby became ill that I realized what a serious problem we had created. By the time I made the connection between my daughter s medical condition and the toxins in the nursery, she had become sen­sitized to even minute amounts of toxic chem­icals commonly found in the environment and was in severe distress. My wife and I de­cided to buy an old Victorian home that had not been remodeled in over 40 years. We pro­ceeded to convert the building into a chemi­cal-free sanctuary where our daughter could begin to heal from her devastating illness.

During that time I was working as a medi­cal technician in a research lab, where I was exposed to numerous toxic chemicals, includ­ing formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, xylene, and several disinfectants. Over the next four years, I felt progressively worse while at work, yet I would feel better once I returned to our carefully remodeled home. My job-related health problems finally became so severe that I made the difficult decision to quit. Little did I know that a new and exciting career was awaiting me.

Because of my hands-on experience in ren­ovating my own healthy home, people began to ask for my advice. My wife urged me to be­gin consulting professionally, which I have done full time since 1986. Over the years, thou­sands of people have consulted me about their homes. Typically, I am contacted in the mid­dle of a disaster: the walls are moldy, the paint is causing headaches, or the landlord sprayed pesticides to control insects. I am hired to de­termine the cause and suggest a remedy for the problem. My job often includes educating a skeptical landlord or spouse about the causal relationship between the problem in the home and health of the occupant.

The most rewarding work for me is con­sulting during the planning phase of new con­struction, where I can help my clients prevent problems before they occur. Although I do not design or build homes, I can troubleshoot and monitor to help ensure a nontoxic, healthful, and nurturing abode. I have really enjoyed working with Paula and Erica in writing this book. For me, it offers a way to reach more people with the information they need to cre­ate a healthy hom

The following special project procedures must be obeyed at all times:

• Smoking is prohibited within or near any structure on the jobsite.

• The use of gas-generated machinery and gas – or kerosene-fired heaters is prohib­ited within or near the building.

[2] No insecticides, herbicides, or chemicals other than those specified maybe used on the jobsite without prior approval by the architect or owner.

• All materials are to be protected from

[3] composite wood products containing urea/formaldehyde binders

[4] Water shall have positive drainage away from the building at all points along its perimeter. Ground shall slope away at a minimum of 5 percent and soil used to grade around the building shall be of an impervious nature with high clay content.

Framing lumber shall be kiln dried.

[6] Only wood that is free of mold and mil­dew is acceptable.

The use of subflooring materials such as interior-grade plywood, pressboard, or oriented strand board (OSB) containing urea-formaldehyde glues is prohibited.

• Subfloor adhesive must be solvent free. (Refer to the section on wood adhesives.)

The following products are unacceptable for exterior sheathing:

• products containing asphalt

• odorous foam insulation boards

• pressure-treated plywood

The following products and methods are ac­ceptable for exterior sheathing:

• їх recycled lumber laid diagonally with diagonal metal or wood bracing as structurally required (a more labor­intensive and expensive solution, most suitable for breathing wall frame appli­cations)

[9] CDX-grade plywood that has been aired out (purchase as far in advance of installation as possible and stack to allow air flow on all sides of each sheet while protecting it from moisture damage)

A drain system shall be installed around the perimeter of the foundation footing. The drainage system shall consist of the following:

• Positive drainage shall be away from the building along the entire perimeter, with a slope of no less than 5 percent and a top layer of impervious soils.

[11] Dampproofing of all exterior wall surfaces that are below grade or in contact with soil shall be carefully applied according to the manufacturer’s directions to form a watertight barrier. (See below for a list of acceptable products.) Care shall be taken during backfilling and other construction to prevent damage to the dampproofed surface.

All doors shall be thoroughly sealed on all six surfaces.

[13] For a clear finish, seal doors with one of the vapor barrier sealants listed in Division 9. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Thoroughly seal wood windows on all surfaces exposed to the interior.

[15] Where a clear finish is scheduled, use a clear vapor-barrier sealant as specified in

Prior to the installation of flooring or subflooring over a concrete slab, a cal­cium chloride vapor-emissions test shall be performed to verify that the slab meets the manufacturer’s maximum vapor – emissions criteria. Testing shall be per­formed at a rate of one test every 500 feet and at a minimum of once per concrete pour area.

[17] Where adhesives are used to apply a wood floor directly over a concrete slab, the slab should be tested to determine if the pH level in the concrete will be compatible with the adhesive.

• Where radiant heat tubing is installed in a concrete slab, heat should be circulated in the floor for two weeks prior to performing a calcium chloride vapor-emissions test.

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