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Which Air Purifier Do We Use?

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Searching for an Air Purifier

There are so many air purification methods out there, it’s enough to make my head spin. I enjoy researching, studying and learning. But wading through the technical specifications & scientific studies can be exhausting.

 

There are hydroxyl and ozone generators, ionizers, HEPA filters, photocatalytic oxidation (PCO) technology, UV lights, fogging protocols, chemical sprays, and more. Some units mitigate VOCs, most capture mold spores & dust, and a few sit there looking pretty and making noise.

 

I started looking for a high-quality air purifier in the early months of our mold-avoidance days. We were living in a hotel that was two years old, and there were very strong volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the newer construction materials and cleaning products. I opened the three windows in our suite as wide as possible (which was no more than a few inches, for safety and liability reasons), but we still struggled greatly with lethargy when we were in the room. Bringing in fresh air can be an effective way to lower the amount of formaldehyde indoors, but our fresh air options were limited.

Charcoal’s Purification Powers

Carbon is the first thing I looked into when searching for a product that would adsorb gasses. It is often used in air filtration to capture VOCs. As a side note, the first time I read about this filtration technology, I thought someone was misspelling aBsorb over and over. I eventually realized it was purposefully spelled aDsorb. According to dictionary.com, adsorption happens when something gathers on a surface as a condensed layer.

 

A block of carbon can do a decent job of mopping up the air that moves through it, but if a shift in humidity or temperature occurs, it can re-release the contaminants it’s supposed to be hanging onto, putting them right back into the air.

 

That did not impress me, and I quickly became disenchanted with carbon. Since the thicker carbon filters aren’t cheap (you need the carbon to be almost a foot thick to be most effective), it didn’t seem worth the cost ($600+), not to mention the extra work to try to prevent it from dumping its toxic soup back into the air.

Introduction to EnviroKlenz

Shortly before this time, my sister told me about someone she knew personally who had just built a brand new house out of conventional building materials. They were sensitized to mold and chemicals, and upon realizing they couldn’t live in the house without adverse symptoms (due to the high levels of VOCs), they ordered an air purifier and furnace filter from EnviroKlenz, a company I’d never heard of.  After several weeks of running the purifier and having the filter in their new furnace air intake, she was able to move into their home with little trouble.

 

This sounded promising to me. The more I looked into it, the more intrigued I became, and I requested more info from the company.

 

As I learned about the technology, I realized this was not the average air purifier I was used to. It has two cartridges inside the unit. One cartridge is a HEPA filter, and the other one is called the “EnviroKlenz Air Cartridge.”

The HEPA filter is certified to be 99.99% efficient at capturing particles that are 0.3 microns and larger. This includes bacteria, pollen, pet dander, dust, and mold spores that are floating in the air. That’s fairly standard for HEPA, and you can get a HEPA filter that makes a noticeable difference in air quality for under $200 on Amazon (we like the GermGuardian).

 

What a HEPA filter cannot do is capture gasses in the air. Chemical smells, smoke, and VOCs from mycotoxins or construction materials go right through a HEPA filter.

 

In the EnviroKlenz, before air passes through the HEPA filter, it pulls the stream through the “EnviroKlenz Air Cartridge,” which neutralizes chemical pollution and VOCs.

How is this accomplished? The Air Cartridge contains earth minerals that adsorb toxins and noxious chemicals. These “earth minerals” are metal oxides that have a “large surface area to volume ratio,” which “makes them highly chemically reactive”. Timilon, the parent company for EnviroKlenz, says this makes the metal oxides “particularly suitable for chemical reactions involving destructive adsorption.”

The EnviroKlenz doesn’t release chemicals.

 

In the company’s documentation, they say:

A key benefit to EnviroKlenz technology over other odor removing devices is that chemicals are not released into the environment. Ozone and hydroxyl machines generate chemical compounds and release them into the air to counteract the pollutants. Chemical treatment methods like fragrances and fogging products topically “work” by masking odors. Enviroklenz has the ability to physically and chemically work against the potentially harmful pollutants and chemicals in the environment without releasing chemicals.

Timilon uses a combination of safe and effective proprietary materials that can physically adsorb and chemically destroy obnoxious odors from myriad sources. These materials will not re-release trapped odors like carbon does, and will function in a large range of temperature and humidity conditions. Source: P19, EnviroKlenz Allergy White Paper

 

Temperature and humidity shifts will not affect the adsorption negatively:

 

Microbial VOCs which contact the EnviroKlenz formulation are strongly adsorbed and removed from the air stream. Unlike the VOCs adsorbed by activated carbon filters, VOCs bound to EnviroKlenz will not be released by off-gassing later. Source: P2, Technical Information

 

Here is a chart that compares a charcoal filter with the EnviroKlenz. As you can see, the charcoal releases the VOCs it has adsorbed when temperature shifts occur, but the EnviroKlenz maintains a strong bond.

 

Our Personal Experience 

We have used the air filter in a few different locations, including hotel rooms with high levels of VOCs, and a tent surrounded by campfires.

 

There was a definite decrease in odor in the hotel rooms, though the filter was not a cure-all for the lethargy we experienced in the environment. It worked amazingly in a tent, and we joked about how we should charge the neighboring campers a fee for breathing cleaner air. 🙂

We continue to use it in our sleeping space, and have been pleased with it. It turns the air over very efficiently.  It does need periodic filter changes, and the filters cost $99 each. The company says they should last approximately 2-3 months, depending on use, but we’ve stretched them a little longer.

The EnviroKlenz Mobile Unit is currently on sale for $649, and we were able to get an even better deal for you, our reader – you can get 15% off any of their products by using the coupon code “Journey15” and ordering through any of the links in this post!

 

When They Don’t Understand

A Story of Rejection

You may be familiar with the story from the Bible of Jesus spending time with his disciples when they walked by a man who had been blind from birth.

With surprising efficiency, Jesus’ disciples quickly assessed the blind man’s physical and spiritual condition, and asked Jesus:

“Who was it that sinned [resulting in the punishment of blindness], this man or his parents?”

Maybe you’ve been in the blind man’s shoes before (I have).  People like to figure things out.  Sometimes we fallible humans make the mistake of trying to figure out other people’s problems for them (in 10 seconds or less).

Throughout your suffering, you may have experienced this quick (and ungracious) assessment and accusation.

It’s not a fun place to be.  You’re begging for God’s mercy, for Him to send help.

God, please just send someone to love and comfort me during this trial.

But that friend you saw coming, who you thought might be your answer to prayer, ends up judging and accusing instead.

Job knew how this felt.

Eliphaz, Job’s friend, finally broke the silence: “Remember: who that was innocent ever perished?  Or where were the upright cut off? As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.” (Job 4:7-8)

Bildad, Job’s second friend, says much the same. “See, God will not reject a blameless person nor take the hand of evildoers.” (Job 8:20)

And Zophar repeats the refrain. “If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, do not let wickedness reside in your tents. Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish; you will be secure, and will not fear.…Your life will be brighter than the noonday, and its darkness like morning.” (Job 11:14-15, 17).

It hurts.

It’s hard.

Can you imagine being the blind man who had not done anything to cause his blindness?

Yet snap judgments were made about his condition on a daily basis.

He couldn’t even see his accusers, but I’m sure he heard their words.


Accusing Words in Your Life

Who are your accusers?

  • Maybe your loss has left you in a place where you don’t even recognize your own life anymore.  The hole of grief is so deep and vast, it seems like you will never be able to move out of and beyond it.  But yet you’ve been mistaken as being “un-spiritual”, or your waves of grief misunderstood as a lack of trust in God’s plan for your life.
  • Sometimes these accusations come from a spouse that doesn’t understand.  Even though they live with you and see your suffering, they think surely you can’t be enduring the pain you feel. “You’ll be fine.
  • It could be your close friend who can’t understand why you’re suddenly unreliable, non-commital, so “selfish” and always thinking of yourself.  In reality you’re just trying to cope, hanging by a thread.  Survival mode. Just trying as hard as you can to keep it all together.
  • Or, that doctor you seek out (or maybe that 15th or 20th doctor you seek out), who gives you a pat on the hand and offers you his best option: admit that your problems are “all in your head” because certainly you must be making up your symptoms to get attention.

I know you’re suffering. That you’ve become this person you never anticipated, never chose, never wanted.

But what do you do when they don’t understand?


God’s Purpose in Your Suffering

What if, in your lonesomeness and sorrow, God is drawing you to Himself, desiring that you learn more about His love and care for you?

What if He wants you to care more about His opinion of you than the opinion of your accusers?

Rather than giving us trials in our lives for the mere reason of punishment (as people often think), the Lord is loving and kind and allows us to go through hard things – sometimes excruciatingly painful things – to remind us that He is our perfect source for strength, for comfort, and hope.

I love these words from Gloria Furman, recorded in her husband’s book, Being There:

“When you can’t see what the Potter is making, you trust the Potter. He delights in his sovereign will, so we don’t have to apologize for God or feel embarrassed or embittered about what he has designed.

“He loves us with an everlasting love and is willing to put us through trials in order to purify us for himself. So we do not lose heart…. By the grace of God in Jesus Christ, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”


Jesus’ Conclusion to His Disciples

Going back to the story of Jesus, His response to his critical disciples had two components:

1. Answering their question (“Who sinned?”):

It was neither him nor his parents who sinned.

2. And then explaining the purpose for the blind man’s plight:

“This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”


My Expectations of Serving God

I don’t know what comes to your mind when you envision God’s works or glory being displayed in your life as you serve Him.

Maybe your expectation includes trendy catch-phrases we have in modern Christianity today.

You know the popular phrases.  They go something like:

Following Jesus – with reckless abandon

Being “sold-out” for Him

Fully surrendered

Completely devoted

“All-in!”

And sometimes like these phrases from a song:

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.”

“Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander.”

These phrases often make us feel good about ourselves, and cause us to get excited to “do” whatever God would want us to, and to “go” wherever He wants.

How thrilling!  How exciting!

But what if the reality of glorifying God in your life looks like the last thing you ever wanted to do?  The last place that you ever wanted to go?

How is a Christian supposed to live when their life isn’t actually catchy phrases with consitent mountain top experiences and triumphs?

When, instead, “fully surrendered” dedication to Him looks like constant valleys and struggle?


To the Praise of His Glory

Sometimes it’s easy in our limitations to feel much like the blind beggar.  Beaten down and lonely, it feels like no one cares.

What if, despite the accusations of others, despite your inability to be some super “all-in” Christian involved in every activity you wish you could be, what if your life actually does have significant impact?

What if God can use your cast-out, looked-down-on self “so that the works of God might be displayed in you?

My personal experience with suffering has enlarged my heart for people who may not “have it all together” according to the church’s or world’s standards.

I know God loves us mis-fits just as much as those who have boxed-up, packed-with-a-ribbon-on-top lives.

In fact, us “sub-par” people are often the ones God chooses to use according to 1 Corinthians 1:

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,  so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 1 Cor. 1:28-29


Purpose

Can you imagine the sadness and disappointment of the blind man’s mother when she realized that her son couldn’t see?

The hard circumstances that he had to overcome in his life growing up and as a beggar to meet his needs?

The abuse the blind man endured daily by people who, like the disciples, judged and perhaps showed their hatred?

“What good will he ever do in the world?”

Despite the misunderstanding of people around him, this man was blessed to know (this side of heaven!) the purpose of his suffering – to bring God glory and put His power on display.

Jesus essentially said to him, “It was for this moment that I created you!”


Hope

Take heart, my friend!  You are not alone in your suffering, even though it may feel that way.

God, in His wisdom, knows your weaknesses, and guess what?  He can – and will – love, protect, guide, and use you anyway.

Your life and the heart-breaking circumstances can be the way that God chooses to display His glory and His power.

And this experience of suffering may help you learn how to love and comfort others in the way that God has perfectly comforted and loved you.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 

who comforts us in all our affliction,

so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction,

with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

8 Allergy-Friendly Halloween Treat Options

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Halloween is Almost Here!

October is almost halfway over, and the fall and winter holidays are quickly approaching!  I thought I would share a few fun options that I compiled for healthier Halloween alternatives.

We do our best to avoid foods with artificial colors.  When our son was young, he would get chemical burn diaper rashes after consuming foods with these colors.  As he grew, we noticed a drastic difference in hyperactivity and neurological effects from dyes.  Other concerns are the potential for dyes being carcinogens, as well as causing potential genotoxicity¹.  Needless to say, we steer clear as much as possible!

Many kids are forced to dodge candy with nuts and other potential allergens.   Maybe you have heard of the "Teal Pumpkin Project" -- an organization whose purpose is to promote awareness and allergy-free options for kids so everyone can feel included.  Most people who participate in this project for Halloween place a teal pumpkin in front of their door so children are aware that there are safe treats available at that home!

 

 

The TEAL PUMPKIN PROJECT and the Teal Pumpkin Image are trademarks of Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE).

 

Check out these 8 options that could help you promote a safer Halloween in your community!

Healthier Sweet Treats

1. YumEarth Organic Natural Candy, 5-lb Bag

2. Annie's Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks

3. Angie’s BOOMCHICKAPOP Sweet & Salty Kettle Corn - 24 Count

4. 100% Pure, Unfiltered Honey Sticks 

Fun, Affordable Toy Options

5. LED Finger Lights Beams - 100 Count

6. Bracelets - 52 Pack Slap Bracelets

7. Spider Rings - 36 Count

8. Fun Express Vinyl Paratroopers

Finding a Mold-Free Rental: 8 Places to Look for Signs of Mold

 

Over ten months ago, my husband and I began seeking a mold-free rental for our family in central Illinois. Our goal seemed pretty simple at the time. We needed to find an environment with no mold so we could turn around the immune damage we had already sustained.
We thought we were different than other moldies that were “worse off.” We assumed that we could find a better environment and stay ahead of the curve so our health could turn a corner. But that’s not what happened.

 

When we moved out of our house, I quickly learned what it’s like to become “unmasked” to molds, chemicals, VOCs, EMFs, and environmental toxins. For us, that meant hypersensitivity and hyperreactivity entered our lives, and as we looked for a safe dwelling to rent, we got more and more discouraged.

 

Our hope was to find a decent unit with no visible mold. It had to be new enough to have no mold in the HVAC, and old enough to be low VOC (new building materials “off-gas” chemicals for years). However, our hopes did not mesh with reality as I physically reacted to every rental we viewed, and we found mold in all but 2 of the 40+ we toured (I get reactive airway symptoms around mold, which turns into anaphylaxis if I don’t get away from the trigger). The two rentals without visible mold were high EMF and VOCs (my head feels like it’s being squeezed in a vice grip in those environments).

 

We looked at apartments as low as $650 a month, and condos as high as $1300 a month. The price point made no difference, and some of the moldiest were the most costly.

Our mold journey is still in a state of upheaval, and I’ll post an update on us once a few more details come together, but for now I thought I’d share some of the things we’ve learned to check when viewing rentals. Our eyes have been opened to how prevalent indoor fungal growth is in the Midwest.

Our Adoption Story, Part 2

This is part 2 in a 2-part series.  Read Part 1 here.

Holding On, Trusting

After the call from the agency that birth momma was in labor,  I didn’t have a good feeling about the whole thing, but was praying that God would just help us not to go if she was going to change her mind.  Especially since I really wasn’t feeling great and had little stamina.

Thousands of dollars in plane tickets and reservations later, we packed for our trip and went to bed, planning to leave the next morning.

I can’t even begin to tell you the number of ways that people helped us.  And I know that I didn’t thank them enough, because in my fatigue and disbelief, I was just trying to put one step in front of the other.   

Some people came and helped get us ready to go, one friend came and cleaned out my fridge and took care of last-minute details.  (We were planning on being gone for 3 weeks to a month, and didn’t want to return to rotten food and other issues with our house.) Others brought us their gifts that they were going to give us at the shower that coming Saturday, which ended up being canceled (for obvious reasons!).

Another few friends spent HOURS, and I mean HOURS while we were gone on a huge order of VogMasks that I was submitting.  This was my “big” responsibility that I was going to get out of the way before leaving.

Winter inversion (pollution) in northern Utah is pretty bad, especially for more sensitive types like me.  So, I decided for the second year in a row to order a bulk order of the masks for people in the area of Salt Lake City.  I was literally posting to Facebook the pick-up times and locations for the following week when we heard of our birth mom’s labor.  These friends were just incredibly kind, giving, and sacrificial.  They sorted and distributed the masks during our time in Florida.


Sadness in Florida

Our flight that morning of February 19th entailed the most harrowing turbulence I have ever been through as we landed in Denver.  Our 4-year-old son was buckled, but still flying around his seat.  I was doing my best to hold him down on one side of me, while gripping Josh’s leg to steady me on the other side.  After our layover in Denver, we flew to Jacksonville.  The baby had been born in the morning, and we were unsure if we’d go right to the hospital upon arrival or to a hotel.

Our Adoption Story, Part 1

The Beginning of our Journey

Adoption has been an interest and passion of mine for years.  Before we had our son, I researched adoption and although we never put anything in motion, we had many conversations about whether the Lord would have us to move forward with growing our family this way.

Fast-forward to 2014.  We were finally settled into a house after traveling for a year and then renting for another two.  Although my health wasn’t yet 100% after being diagnosed with Lyme, the trajectory was upward and things were looking alright for taking the next step.

Since having our son, I haven’t felt like another pregnancy would be a positive for me physically.  I’ve had a couple of miscarriages, and it appeared the Lord was directing us away from more biological children for the time being.  (I know, there are a host of things I could have considered from a physical standpoint, but I’ve just never felt that was the best option for us right now.)

So, we contacted an adoption agency and got the ball rolling for our homestudy.  The homestudy process is when you meet with a social worker over a series of visits who is basically investigating whether you are fit to adopt. It also involves paperwork and more paperwork and more paperwork!  (No, not as much as a dossier that my friends have had to complete for international adoption, I admit.)  Background checks and FBI finger printing and physicals are also required.

After enrolling with an agency in Michigan that facilitates adoptions in Michigan and in Florida, our homestudy was approved, and we waited.  In the meantime, we raised funds.  You may well know that adoption isn’t cheap.  The national average goes up each year, and is currently $40,000.  The Lord has provided for our needs throughout the years, but we don’t have extra, and certainly not tens of thousands extra.

My sister and I put a bunch of work into an online auction.  Wonderful people donated many different items to be sold, and it was a great success.  Then we planned a yard sale.  People were amazingly generous once again, and gave so many items to be sold.  Our neighbors were so kind to us.  When buyers realized that the sale was to support adoption, they gave even more above their purchase price.


Exciting News!

Late summer 2015 we were vacationing in Park City, UT.  As our family was sitting around a table doing a puzzle together, my phone rang.  Our profile book had been shown to a mom, and she chose our family for her baby!  We didn’t know that day if it was to be a boy or girl, but after an ultrasound the following day, we found out she was pregnant with a little girl.

We entered uncharted waters – building a relationship with this birth mom that would carry us throughout the next 5 months of her pregnancy and, we hoped, into parenthood of her daughter.  She was a girl with a big personality, and it was fun to get to know her.

But I still had so many doubts.  Was this really what God wanted for us?  Was it really going to work out?  But every time I doubted, and asked God to just confirm this path in my heart, He did.  Either through encouragement from others, or money in our mailbox,  I was amazed at His provision.


Bumps in the Road

Book Review – Extreme Measures: Finding a Better Path to the End of Life

As we’ve settled into our new location in southern Utah, we’ve been able to check out several branches of the library system in the area.  Libraries can be a bit dicey because of all the toxins that books hang on to in their pages (for example, one of the books I picked up recently was heavily scented of the perfume of the most recent patron who had read it).  I look forward to someday when these things won’t bother me again, but for now we have to be careful.  I check out new reads for myself (not entirely a bad thing), and any books that we get for our son go in a plastic bin that we bring to the library and carry home, where they stay when they’re not being read.

One visit at the library I picked up a new book that piqued my interest on end-of-life care.  My short stint in healthcare was with older people, and although I never had to administer any life-saving measures, I was aware of who in my care wanted intervention – if needed – to extend their life, and who didn’t.

Dr. Jessica Zitter, MD, describes herself as an “accidental activist” who didn’t set out in her career to change the culture of medicine, but her career led her in a direction she never imagined.  She recounts her experience in her book, Extreme Measures.

As someone who “always wanted to save lives”, Dr. Zitter’s medical career in over 20 hospitals reached a crisis of ethics one day as she prepared to perform a procedure on a woman who was essentially dying.  As a new attending physician at University Hospital in Newark, NJ, a woman was brought to her ICU with failing kidneys and her liver shutting down.  If Dr. Zitter was going to attempt to extend this woman’s life, dialysis was a must, and stat.  Without really considering how much she was really helping the patient, Dr. Zitter quickly got the husband’s consent and prepared to insert a catheter into the woman’s jungular vein.

As she leaned in to the woman’s neck with needle in-hand, a member of the Family Support Team in the ICU appeared in the doorway.  Lifting an imaginary phone to her ear, this advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), Pat, glared at Dr. Zitter and said, “Nine-one-one, get me the police. They’re torturing a patient in the ICU at University Hospital.

I’m Not Amazing

“I couldn’t do what you do.”

Their words hang in the air. They don’t know what else to say.

I used to utter the same phrase.

I would put a special needs mom on a pedestal of my own making.


Separating her from my trajectory of  life, I was creating barriers. Her abilities seemed extraordinary and unattainable.

But now I’m on the other side. I’m looking through the eyes of a mom slightly weathered by the challenges of special needs.

I couldn’t do what you do,” their words echo.

“Yes you could,” I reply.

“If you had to, you could.”

House Flood? – 10 Cleanup Guidelines

We’ve spent a lot of time and energy looking at houses.

Before we purchased our last home, we looked for 18 months for a house we could afford that didn’t have water damage.

One of the questions we asked realtors or home owners was if the home had ever flooded, but quickly realized that some people’s idea of a flood vs. what we had in mind were generally two completely different ideas. I finally started to ask people, “Have you ever had a leak in your home?  Like a plumbing leak, toilet, sink, etc?”

Since we had performed mold testing before moving in, and had an inspector check the home with infrared imaging, we thought we were okay, and certainly didn’t think we had a mold issue.

I even remember telling Josh, as we pulled back into our driveway after being at a friend’s house where my allergies were kicked into high gear, “I’m just thankful that we have a safe home to return to.

This “safety” comment was made a year before finding out that three separate places in our home were hiding toxic black mold in the walls and floor.

Thankful Thursday

Living in a world where it seems like there are so many things going “wrong” can make it easy to constantly focus on the negative.  Hurricanes, fires, countries threatening war: on a global scale, things are a mess.  And life at home isn’t always peachy either.  Chronic illness, financial woes, and varying degrees of personal devastation can make it hard to remember that there still is good in life for which to be thankful!

Meet My Friend, Linny

A blog friend of mine (Linny Saunders) who I have followed for 7 years is no stranger to hardships.  She and her husband have served in full-time ministry, adopted 11 children (also had 3 biologically), and have seen the Lord provide over and over as they have prayed, fasted, and trusted Him.

But their triumphs haven’t been without tragedy.