posted in <<Managing MCS > THRIVE! EXPERTS

Managing MCS
Keeping my home safe from neighbor’s pesticides
with William J. Rea, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.A.A.E.M.

environmental health

Dear Dr. Rea,
I have finally found a home I can live in but the neighbors make it unlivable here through the spring, summer and fall. I have one neighbor that treats her lawn and trees with pesticides every month from ChemLawn until winter arrives. Each spraying leaves me incapacitated for two weeks at a time. I have air cleaners running in my house 24/7 when she sprays but it still infiltrated into my old 1910 home. Is there a type of insulation I could install in the walls and attic that might help? l was a patient at your center back in 1998 or 1999 but you were never able to get an end point on pesticides from an air sample I brought in. In fact, I was hospitalized trying to find the end point to it. I’ve tried talking to my neighbor about my problem and the only help she is willing to provides is to let me know the days she plans on spraying. It has taken me forever to find a home to live in that I am mostly nonreactive to and I don’t have the funds to move either. Can you think of any ideas that would be helpful?

Dr. Rea’s response:
You can try using a magnesium foam insulation in the walls and attic. Test the foam material for tolerance before using. Other than that, you can try putting a barrier of bushes or trees between you and your neighbors that could catch the spray and prevent it from entering your home.

William J. Rea, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.A.A.E.M.
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  • Kim G

    May 5, 2015 at 7:37 am

    I’m so sorry you are going through this. I’m suffering from this right now, myself. Because of that, I’ve done a lot of research on it…

    There appear to be two problems to fix:
    1. How to stop outside and under-home air from leaking inside via the stack effect.
    2. How to keep your air clean in the home.

    In older stick-built homes, like yours, it is said that over 50% of your indoor air is seeping through the walls and floors, coming from the crawlspace and outdoors. This is called the “stack effect” or “siphoning effect”.

    This is a challenge to fix, but it can be done with extensive insulating, weatherstripping, crack sealing and if your home has a crawlspace, sealing the crawlspace off completely from the home.

    There are contractors that do this, and when done correctly, it stops this sort of infiltration. Every corner, edge, and crack must be sealed. AFM (the maker of Safecoat) has some good caulking products for chemically sensitive people.

    How to keep the air clean and fresh in the home… I’m currently working on figuring this one out. Filters can only do so much. I assume you are using carbon filtration units that can actually remove VOCs, like E.L. Foust, or Aireox? HEPAs don’t cut it – the particle size is too small.

    So, like I’ve mentioned, one way to deal with outdoor air pollution is to reduce the infiltration into your home as much as possible, and then filter the heck out of what does get it.

    What appears to complete this effort is creating positive air pressure inside the home, by bringing outside air in through a filter. There are also contractors who specialize in this, but I haven’t yet figured out exactly how this is done on an older home. I’m in process myself – trying to find a fan and filtration system that can easily be retrofitted to an older frame-built home.

    So, to tie it all together – the goal is to stop uncontrolled air infiltration from the outdoors by THOROUGHLY insulating and crawlspace sealing, then create a controlled source of cleaner air coming in to the home, which you will then filter even more. Basically, this is how a “clean room” works.

    I learned much of this from Greg Weatherman, of Aerobiological Solutions. He’s a very experienced building consultant in the realm of dealing with mold, and he also knows a lot about MCS. I highly recommend consulting with him. His website is :

    Also, if you are in California, here is a builder very experienced in these matters with MCS, and mold sufferers:
    Cindy Edwards

    Good luck!

  • Kim G

    May 5, 2015 at 10:29 am

    A little more searching finally revealed a solution:

    Check out their system for bringing clean air into the home.

    Good luck!

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