Our Best Recommendations for Home Test Kits, Water Test Kits, Air Purifiers, and Water Filters
For your convenience, we have hand-selected a list of Test Kits, Products, Books, and Websites that will help transition you to a healthy and toxin-free lifestyle.
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There is not too much more important than the air you breathe. In this first section, we will go over how to keep your air healthful.
Our lungs are very efficient, very delicate membranes built to get oxygen into our bloodstream. But they are also a fast way to get other toxins into our bodies. This is why many drugs are inhaled and why gases like methane and carbon monoxide are so fatal.
Since most of us spend 80% of our life inside, what is in our indoor air is extremely important.
If you have forced hot air or a central air conditioning system in your house, we recommend getting the ductwork professionally cleaned at least every two years. We always suggest you have the ducts cleaned as soon as you purchase a house – before you turn on the heating or cooling system. It is not necessary AND we heartily discourage the duct cleaning professional from adding artificial scents, like “pine tree” or “cherry” to the duct after it is cleaned. Why? Better than 90% of these air freshener scents are synthetic and contain chemicals that impact your lungs and liver. Following the vacuuming out of the duct chases, a simple soap and water wipe down, is sufficient. And don’t forget to replace any and all air filters at least every 6 months – more frequently if you live in a high air pollution area, or there is some event like wildfire smoke.
As might be obvious from the paragraph above, a ducted heating/cooling system is not the best for overall air quality, as it is difficult to clean. Hot water radiators, steam radiators, ground-source heat-pump or mini-splits with external compressors are better choices for clean indoor air.
Most people would not suspect the room air freshener was a toxic substance, But most fragrances are artificial chemicals bound to a second substance that helps them to enter the air.
These carrier substances are most frequently Phthalates. Phthalates have been shown to shrink testicles in grown men, reduce sperm count, and change the genetic expression of certain known measurements of the human body.
For example, in 2005 scientists conducted the first study to examine the correlation between the amount of phthalates found in the mother and changes in the size of newborns.
The researchers measured the metabolites of nine phthalate esters found in the mother’s urine and the size of specific body parts on the newborn. Mothers with high urine phthalate concentrations were 10 times more likely to have male babies with decreased measurements of ano-genital distance. This marker is a standard used by scientists studying the reproductive abilities of different species. Its decrease in newborn males suggests possible fertility problems for them as they get older.
What are the first steps to keeping the air clean?
We get asked frequently about the need for Air Filters in the home. Here are my thoughts as to when it’s necessary and what kinds are best.
Filtering the air in your house is a lot like putting band-aids on skinned knees when someone should have been wearing knee pads, to begin with.
If there are things in the house you are allergic to; dust, mold, dander, pollen, perfumes and scents, dust mites, etc… look for ways to completely remove the cause of them rather than just filtering them out of the air.
For example, if you are allergic to the fibers from your wall-to-wall carpeting it makes more sense to remove it and have wood flooring that is “fiber-free” than to vacuum every day or run an air filter all the time. You might still need to vacuum for other reasons, but if the carpet is removed, or only a small amount of carpet is used, then the scale of the problem is much smaller.
If you have a lot of air pollution coming into the house from the outside, look at “air-sealing” such as weather-stripping, filling gaps, and putting door sweeps on outside doors. Block as much as you can. The need for fresh air can be met through air-to-air heat exchangers, that exhaust inside air while bringing in fresh outside air. These are usually professionally installed.
When to use Indoor Air Filtration
There are many situations when you may want to filter your indoor air, but as mentioned above, it is best to start first by removing the source of the pollutants: seal up air leaks in a drafty home, (since more than half of all indoor air pollutants come in from outside,) get rid of petroleum-based carpeting and rug pads, vent any kitchen smoke to the outside, throw away all air fresheners and scented candles, and switch over to natural cleaning products, for example.
Please refer to the “Home Toxin Room-by-Room Inspection Survey” PDF which was included in this Detox Toolkit for a thorough checklist you can use like a scavenger hunt to find your indoor air pollutants.
Beyond general home air quality improvement, there are many special circumstances that would warrant the use of a good air filter. Here are just a few:
- When removing something dangerous from your home, like asbestos floor tiles.
- Please also put up plastic sheeting to seal off the work area and wear a double carbon-filter face mask and goggles.
- Example: When we purchased a 1940s home it had a submarine boiler as a furnace. We checked with our state environmental protection department which told us that it was OK to remove the asbestos from the furnace casing ourselves if we followed particular safety procedures. While doing the project, we isolated that section of the basement with plastic sheeting and ran an air filter inside the whole project and for a week afterward. We then disposed of the air filters as prescribed by the state.
- When having indoor construction done on your home.
- Example: When we enclosed our porch, the contractors asked us to stain and seal the wood door and window trim before they installed it. Even though we used water-based, low-VOC polyurethane, and had the windows open with a fan running, there was still a smell. As you may know, if you can smell chemicals, then you should not be breathing them! Unfortunately, it was winter, and we did not want to leave all of the windows open and lose all of the heat. So we ran an air filter in the new porch until all the smell was gone.
- When you paint a room or the basement
- When you refinish a wood floor
- When you or someone you live with has a respiratory disease such as COPD, Emphysema, Black Lung, or Asbestosis.
Air Quality Testing
Outdoor Air Quality testing is usually done by your local, district, county, or state government. Normally they test at regular intervals from an air monitoring station. The monitoring stations can take intermittent or continuous readings for ozone, particulates, pollen, and sometimes more specific readings for sulfur dioxide, etc. These outdoor air quality data are reported on the government website, and/or on weather apps.
Indoor Air Quality is usually tested only by professionals with expensive equipment. But there are at least 3 home test kits that consumers can use to test their own indoor air.
AIR TEST KITS
Home Air Check Indoor Air Quality Formaldehyde Test
Air Filtration – What’s important to know?
When trying to filter your indoor air, you need to know what you are trying to filter. If you only need dust control, it should be HEPA filters. If you want to get rid of fumes from a new piece of furniture, kitchen cabinets, carpet, and paint off-gassing, instructions can be found in “How to air-out your new toxin-laden product so it doesn’t harm your family” in our Detox- Toolkit.
Another instance of air filters would be if a portion of the house is undergoing renovation or expansion. Construction dust and fumes (sawdust, sheetrock sanding dust, paints, and varnishes) all need to be contained within the construction area first, then a filter is brought into the rest of the living space to deal with any leakage.
Don’t waste money on “ion” generators, “ozone” generators, and other units that don’t have fans to move the air. They are not going to clean the air fast enough if at all, to relieve your symptoms. In fact, the US EPA issued a statement about ozone generators saying they are inappropriate for use inside homes and can cause health problems such as sore throats, headaches, asthma, and cough. See this page for more info: https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/ozone-generators-are-sold-air-cleaners
Look for an air filter with multiple fan speeds, quiet performance so it won’t keep you up at night, and wheels on the cabinet so you can move it around easily. It should have a large filter – the larger the better. Check for a tight fit between the filter and the slot it fits in. Leaking air here is called “bypass”. Anything that bypasses is not getting cleaned. You can remedy a leaky filter by applying tape between the filter and the frame so air cannot get around it.
Finally, consider the cost of the replacement filters. Sometimes they can be more than the original cost of the entire machine, so look at the replacement filter cost when choosing which filter to get.
AIR FILTERS / PURIFIERS
To choose an Air Filter (also called an Air Purifier) appropriate for the size of your space, we have put together a list of the filters we personally use. Please see these listed below:
The Best of the Best:
AIR DOCTOR 4-in-1 Air Purifier UltraHEPA, Carbon & VOC Filters Cleaner Sensor Automatically adjusts Filtration to air Quality! Portable. Quiet. Captures Particles 100x Smaller than Ordinary HEPA. (https://amzn.to/2WQAQcq)
Also Top Rated:
IQAir [HealthPro Plus Air Purifier] – Medical-Grade Air [HyperHEPA Filter] for Allergies, Pets, Asthma, Odors, Smoke, Pollen, Dust; Swiss Made (https://amzn.to/2wGxzBu)
For Large Rooms:
Blueair Pro M Air Purifier, Professional – Allergy, Mold, Smoke, and Dust Remover (https://amzn.to/3aqXITw)
For Small to Medium Rooms:
Blueair Classic 205 Air Purifier for home with HEPASilent Filtration for Allergies, Pets, Viruses, Dust, Asthma, Odors and Smoke, WiFi Enabled, ALEXA compatible- Small to Medium rooms (https://amzn.to/2Jm1uSw)
For Small Rooms:
Blueair Blue Pure 411 Air Purifier for home 3 Stage with Two Washable Pre-Filters, Particle, Carbon Filter, Captures Allergens, Viruses, Odors, Smoke, Mold, Dust, Germs, Pets, Smokers, Small Room (https://amzn.to/3bvNx05)
For Very Small Spaces (like an office cubical):
IQAir Desk Personal Air Purifier [HyperHEPA Filter] Allergies, Pets, Asthma, Pollen, Dust; Swiss Made (https://amzn.to/2xA1Vpl)
For Inside Vehicle:
IQAir Car Air Purifier [HyperHEPA Filter] Portable, Air Pollution, Cabin Filter, App-Enabled, Allergies, Asthma, Pollen, Dust; Swiss Made (https://amzn.to/2WPeA2g)
After reading our book and learning about all the contaminants that can be in water, you might be thinking you will never drink your tap water again. But the solution to these issues is simple:
- Never put any chemicals or prescription drugs down any drain or spill them onto the land — you don’t want to be part of the pollution problem!
- Get your water tested.
- Filter it if you need to.
For water supplied by your municipality, you can ask the Water Department for their water test report. However, it may not represent what is actually coming out of your faucet because the sample is taken at the water treatment plant, but then your water must travel through miles of likely old pipes and your own house plumbing before you drink it. And they may not have the budget, technology, or personnel to test for all the contaminants that you should be concerned about. Generally, they follow federal and/or state drinking water standards but do not normally test for lead, pesticides, radon, etc.
If you have well water, some state departments of public health or town health departments may provide free or reduced-cost water testing, however, although you may be able to test from your own kitchen faucet, as stated above, they may not test for all contaminants.
This is why we don’t recommend relying on the water test results provided by your municipal water department. Instead, look for an independent environmental water testing laboratory that will test your home tap water sample. You can find these by a map or Internet search or listed in your phone book’s business section under “Environmental Testing”, “Water Testing”, or “Environmental Laboratories.” Be sure to look for the word “accredited”, since accredited laboratories have been independently evaluated as technically competent to provide accurate test data.
Test your water in your own home, at your kitchen tap. It is best to test your water from your faucet in the kitchen since this is where you get most of your drinking and cooking water. You want to test it first thing in the morning so that it has a chance to sit in your house pipes overnight.
The lab should ship you a test kit, or you can go pick one up. You can not bring them a sample of water in any old container. They will provide you with several special containers, depending on what you want to test for, for example, a radon test is usually a separate glass vial. And a bacterial test is going to need a sterile container. The samples may need to be kept cold so you should take the sample directly to the post office or keep it in the refrigerator until it can be mailed in or dropped off.
Below we have listed some basic water test kits that you can buy online. These are a good place to start, but the gold standard for water testing would be, as I mentioned above, a local “Environmental Testing”, or “Water Testing”, or “Environmental Laboratories.”
WATER TEST KITS
Safe Home ULTIMATE Drinking Water Test Kit – CITY WATER or WELL WATER – 200 Contaminants Tested at our EPA Certified Laboratory (https://amzn.to/2QP18rs)
Lead Iron Copper and Mercury – Home Water Test Kit for Well and Tap Drinking Water Fast & Accurate Quality Testing to EPA Standards | Easy to Use and Sensitive Tester Strips – Made in USA (https://amzn.to/2QQqAwC)
Well Water Test Kit for Drinking Water – Quick and Easy Home Water Testing Kit for Bacteria Nitrate Nitrite pH Manganese & More, Made in The USA in Line with EPA Limits NO MAILING Required (https://amzn.to/2wAw5ce)
Buying water versus using a water filter
If you need clean water right away, go buy bottled water. But in the long term, we recommend using a filtration system since bottled water usually comes in a plastic container or glass with a plastic cap or gasket in the cap which exposes you to plastic toxins. If you buy water in the 5-gallon jugs which are a better-quality plastic, that’s better, but you will then have to deal with all of the plastic tubing in the water cooler dispenser, in addition to not being able to clean the inner workings of the water cooler. Plus, filtered water will be less expensive over time than buying bottled water.
If you need to buy bottled water, which kind do you buy?
Purified water may be the best type of bottled water to buy since purified water has been filtered by the manufacturer. Spring water sounds nice, but is often not filtered. (We personally drank bottled spring water which we later found out had been recalled due to contamination with PFOS of the spring!) Distilled water is not recommended to drink since all of the essential minerals have been removed during the distilling process, so distilled water will draw minerals that you need (like calcium, magnesium, and potassium) out of your body.
How to take toxins out of your water
If you don’t have the time or money to do testing, and just want to start drinking clean water now, you can skip the testing step and just buy a filter to filter your water.
You can filter your drinking water using a water pitcher, but this will not be enough if you have a lot of contamination. The next least expensive option would be a countertop or under-the-counter 3-stage filtration system.
If you don’t want to be bothered by several small filters all over the house, which all need to be changed regularly, you can purchase a “whole house” filter that is professionally installed as the water line comes into the home, before it goes to any of the faucets or the water heater.
Whatever filtration system you choose, you will need to change the filters regularly. Improperly maintained filters are WORSE than no filter at all because they can breed bacteria. The more expensive filters will have a reminder light or timer that tells you when to change the filter.
Pitcher filters need to be changed more frequently, based on use. Larger filtration systems are usually changed every 6 months or when the water stream out of the filter decreases by half, whichever comes first. But always follow the filter manufacturer’s filter changing guidelines, because all water filters are made differently, so need to be changed at the interval specified by the manufacturer.
PFAS/PFOS removal from water
Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, used in food packages, nonstick pans, stain-repellant clothes, furniture and carpet, electronics, and many other commercial applications, persist and accumulate in living organisms and the environment. “The EPA does not recommend that contaminated households switch to bottled water, because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not established PFAS quality standards in bottled water, nor does it require testing for PFAS, although the International Bottled Water Association says its members test for the chemicals annually,” according to PBS Wisconsin, a service of the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Please note that boiling water will not remove PFAS and neither will water softening or iron filtration systems. “Granular activated carbon systems, generally the least expensive treatment option, can remove some PFAS, including PFOA and PFOS… But molecularly shorter chemicals, known as short-chain PFAS, may slip by,” according to PBS Wisconsin.4
Another filtration technology, “ion exchange resins act like little magnets that capture PFAS molecules. Some of these ion exchange systems may be more effective than activated carbon, especially at snatching short-chain PFAS,” according to PBS Wisconsin, but be sure to check that they meet the ASI or NSF certification standards discussed below.4
Reverse osmosis devices, which are the most expensive filtration option, use energy to push water through a membrane. This system is best used on one faucet rather than for the whole house. Reverse osmosis is effective but requires a large volume of water and discharges PFAS-tainted backwash back into the environment via the sewer or septic system.
Certification standards each have a number associated with what is being certified. Water filters are NSF/ANSI 53 and reverse osmosis systems are NSF/ANSI 58. “To know if a filter is NSF certified for the removal of PFOA and PFOS look for NSF P473 or NSF Certified to Standard P473 on the product, packaging, or specifications… Whole house filtration systems are not currently certified,” according to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
Many state health departments recommend using American Standards Institute (ASI) and National Science Foundation (NSF) independent certification organizations’, certified filters. The current EPA health advisory level for water leaving the filtration systems is 70 parts per trillion. Note that this certification guarantees less than 70 parts per trillion, but zero would be the safest level.
Since no system is 100% effective, you can boost the filtration rate by using multiple types of systems in succession.
Shower Water Filters
Shower and bath filters are also available. These are very simple to install yourself. If you are on well water, a shower filter can keep groundwater contaminants out of your lungs and off your skin. If you are on city water, you will be exposed to Trihalomethanes (THMs) through your shower. THMs are compounds formed from the chlorine added to sanitize the water on its long journey from the treatment plant to a residence. THMs form as the water travels to the home and as the water is heated for use. The largest source of exposure comes from breathing in the steam from a hot shower. THMs are carcinogenic.
To make choosing a water filter easy, we have put together a list of filters we personally use or have used and were happy with for good price, ease of installation, and ease of filter change.
Whole House System:
Aquasana Whole House Water Filter System – Filters Sediment & 97% of Chlorine – Carbon & KDF Home Water Filtration – EQ-1000, 10 Yr, 1 Million Gl (https://amzn.to/3arfFBr)
Under Kitchen Sink:
Aquasana Under the Sink Filter with Spigot – 3-Stage (https://amzn.to/2xqtdi1)
Automatic Self-filling Water Pitcher:
Aquasana Clean Water Machine, Powered Water Filter Pitcher, Filters 320 gallons (https://amzn.to/39tlQ6B)
Fill-it-yourself Water Pitcher:
Brita Everyday Pitcher Filter (https://amzn.to/2JktVzZ)
Aquasana Shower Water Filter System w/ Handheld Massaging – Filters Over 90% of Chlorine – NSF Certified Carbon & KDF Filtration Media – PH Enhancement – 6 Month, 10,000 Gallons (https://amzn.to/2xroxsn)
Individual, Potable, Filtered Water Bottle:
Water Filter Bottle (https://amzn.to/2Um6c8S)
Travel – Water Filter for Traveling:
Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System (https://amzn.to/39cDzjA)
Travel – Ultra-violet lamp that destroys over 99.9% of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa:
SteriPEN ULT-MP-EF SterPen Ultra UV Water Purifier (https://amzn.to/3BiBG3J) NOTE: This will not remove toxins, use this pen FIRST, before the “Sawyer MINI Water Filtration System” listed above when water quality is questionable.
3) HOME TESTING
Beyond all the contaminants that we have discussed above, if you have a home or live in an apartment that was built before 1985, you should also test for lead and asbestos. The kits below are quick and inexpensive. If you find lead and/or asbestos, check with your local city health department or town building department to see if you qualify for government assistance to remove the hazardous materials. You will not get in trouble for this! And the government may be able to get the problem fixed for you for free, so ask for help, especially if you have children in the house.
LEAD and ASBESTOS TEST KITS
Lead in Paint or Toys:
Lead Test Kit with 30 Testing Swabs – Rapid Test Results in 30 Seconds. Just Dip in White Vinegar to Use Lead Testing Kits for Home Use Reagent, Suitable for All Painted Surfaces (https://amzn.to/2JhPsth)
Asbestos Inspector in a Box (https://amzn.to/3aqmBPm)
4) More Information
Here are other places to get good, reliable information on how to clean up your home and work environments.
Making Better Buildings: A Comparative Guide to Sustainable Construction for Homeowners and Contractors, by Chris Magwood (https://amzn.to/2UFoPDW)
How to Build a Healthy Home, by Daniel Stih (https://amzn.to/2QQOBnv)
The Non-Toxic Home & Office, by Debra Lynn Dadd (https://amzn.to/2JlyHgF)
The Naturally Clean Home: 100 Safe and Easy Herbal Formulas for Non-Toxic Cleansers, by Karen Siegle Maier (https://amzn.to/2wKwQiJ)
We have reviewed these websites and agree with the content as of April 2020. The significance of this is that most websites are NOT reviewed for content by anyone. So knowing who has tried and true information is important. The sites below contain things you can do and use to clean your home safely without creating more indoor air pollution issues.
Environmental Working Group:
Bon Ami Cleanser Company (c. 1886): With over 130 years of cleaning experience this site tells you how to clean just about everything. One of, (if not the) oldest manufacturer of natural cleansers. Formerly housed in the Bon Ami building in Manchester, CT! https://www.bonami.com/ideas-tips/
In Case You missed Anything…
Here are all of our hand-selected and persoanally-tested products:
We wish you a long and healthy life. Thank you again for your support!