Healthy Housing Research Institute

Welcome to the website of the Healthy Housing Research Institute, located in the town of Rockvale, Colorado, 81244 (between Florence and Cañon City).

My name is Gary Johnson. I am a retired electrical engineering professor from Kansas State University, and have Electromagnetic HyperSensitivity (EHS). Cell phone and WiFi signals make me ill, although I am not nearly as sensitive as many with EHS. I tolerate the ambient fields fairly well where I live in Cañon City, Colorado, as long as there are no cell phones or WiFi in the house. But I decided to look for a place with lower field strengths where I might build a house (if necessary) and bought 59 acres in Rockvale, Colorado, on foreclosure in March, 2012. The property includes a gulch or box canyon with very low signals. I could not identify any place on earth where EHS was being investigated, so I proposed the establishment of the ElectroMagnetic Sensitivity Research Institute (EMSRI) to do research on methods to improve the wellbeing of those of us with EHS. The dream was to recruit medical personnel, biochemists, engineers, and other technical people to do funded research on many aspects of EHS. In early 2018 there is still only one researcher (me), doing research on healthy housing out of my retirement assets. It appears to be time to sharpen the focus, to make plans that one person has some hope of completing. EMSRI had not been legally established, so I changed the proposed name to the Healthy Housing Research Institute (HHRI). The new name suggests that housing will be built and evaluated as to perceived health effects by those living in the housing, with the assumption being that tenants will have EHS and/or Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS).

In May of 2014, a three bedroom, two bath house on a 1 acre lot adjacent to the 59 acres already purchased became available on foreclosure, which I was able to buy at a favorable price. The 60 acres are inside the town of Rockvale, and include a 40 acre lot that contains the well-shielded gulch. The remaining 20 acres are in six lots varying in size from 1 to 8 acres. The house and four of the empty lots are on a cul-de-sac at the end of Shaft Avenue. The house (745 Shaft Avenue) has been repurposed as the office and laboratory for the Institute.

The ideal location for this Research Institute would be on a paved street with all utilities including Internet, close to shopping and work opportunities, but with low electromagnetic fields. The Rockvale property, while not ideal, is at the end of a paved street with electricity and water. The 40 acre and 8 acre parcels have long gravel driveways and would be off-grid and on well water. It is about six miles to Home Depot and seven miles to Walmart. Colorado Springs is about an hours drive away, and Pueblo is a little closer. The climate is quite nice, with the site located in what is considered the `banana belt' of Colorado. All houses in Rockvale are on septic systems, which is not a problem. Most houses are heated by electricity or by propane. There are no cable TV lines to 745 Shaft. An outdoor TV antenna on the house receives CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, and Fox from Colorado Springs. Internet to 745 Shaft is provided wirelessly from a nearby tower to a receiving dish on the house, then by Ethernet cable inside. I use Vonage to get Voice Over Internet phone service inside the house. The wireless Internet signal does not reach the bottom of the gulch, so Internet service there would need to be from cable, probably fiber optic.

So what kind of research can a one man operation hope to accomplish regarding healthy houses? I can build a small house that has promise of low interior fields, documenting the process on YouTube. I would then measure the electromagnetic attenuation from outside to inside. I may add features like extra metallic screening on the windows and measure again. I would also measure the energy efficiency of the house. After a year or so of testing and outgassing, the house is available to rent or sell. People occupying the house would need to agree to continued testing.

This first house will be connected to the grid, which makes it less expensive, requiring fewer contractors, and easier to get permitted. Off-grid houses will also need to be tested, but this will happen at a later time.

In January, 2018, a contract was signed with Morton Building Corporation to erect a 30' by 48' shop/office/lab behind the house at 745 Shaft Avenue. Morton is a nationwide company that has been in operation over a century, specializing in agricultural buildings with metal roofs and metal siding. The site is surrounded by a `forest' of junipers and pinon pines which pose a significant fire risk in dry, windy conditions. It therefore makes good sense to build all buildings with metal roofs and either metal or stucco siding in this environment, independent of any concern for the EHS/MCS individual.

The Morton technology also works nicely for residential houses by simply adding insulation and interior walls and ceiling. They will install drywall wall and ceiling surfaces if requested, but their preference is to use the same metal panels inside as outside. That means that their `standard' house is basically a double-wall Faraday cage. If steel doors and a second metallic screen on the windows are used, the cell phone and WiFi signals inside the house should be well below the signal levels outside. The reduction should be enough for most EHS people to do well while inside the house.

The shop will have two doors and six windows, appropriate to a small house, but no kitchen or bathroom. It will be all-electric like the adjacent house. The house interior will resemble a cavity resonator in that whatever signals are inside will bounce back and forth inside, establishing a resonance pattern, until finally absorbed by whatever absorbant materials are inside. These signals would be mostly generated from internal sources (e.g. WiFi routers) but would include the signals that have leaked in from outside. Among possible absorbing materials, water is an excellent absorber at cell phone frequencies. The human body is mostly water, so a human inside this cavity resonator will absorb most of the inside signals, not a good thing for the EHS person. A house built as a double-wall Faraday cage would need a significant amount of absorbing material inside, to have any hope of being healthy. I have several ideas to try. One would be to make friends with a paint contractor and acquire about 200 used five gallon paint buckets at a nominal price. These can be filled with water and stacked up to eight high to form a wall across the interior of the shop. I would put a known signal source inside the shop and measure the interior fields first without the water wall and then with it. I would have the option to repeat the experiment with other absorbing materials (besides water) in the buckets.

The ultimate test will be for EHS people to spend time in the shop, sleeping there for a few nights on air mattresses. They could use the shower, refrigerator, stove, washer, and dryer in the adjacent house.

At the end of a year or so of testing, we will know how much a Morton house attenuates external fields, if it has acceptable energy efficiency, and if test subjects like the 'feel'. People who find the results acceptable can replicate the house most places in the USA. I think most Planning and Zoning Departments would consider this house 'conventional', hence it should not require extraordinary efforts to get permitted. The electrically sensitive who need to stay in a given locale for work or family reasons could build this house and hope to maintain reasonable health.

After the testing phase on the shop is finished, I hope to build a regular on-grid house with the same footprint on an adjacent lot. Changes would be made according to lessons learned from building and testing the shop. It would be a simple, three bedroom, two bath, 1440 square feet floor plan. This size of house is consistent with other houses in the subdivision and elsewhere in Rockvale. Construction cost should be no more than a conventional stick-built house.

I believe I can do the research on healthy on-grid housing just described, without research grants or additional people. Hopefully it will be useful to the EHS community. Much more needs to be done, definitely requiring grants and people. The world needs a vibrant Healthy Housing Research Institute! My hope is that once the first house is occupied by people with EHS, that the operation will start to look real rather than just a gleam in someone's eye, and that money and people will start flowing in. I continue to look for people who would like to partner with me in this effort.

In addition to the strictly engineering aspects of building houses with low interior fields, it is also possible to investigate the health effects of living in these houses, in this part of Colorado, a much more complex activity. At one extreme would be testimonials from tenants, a self-evaluation without input from medical professionals. After living here for several weeks or months, the tenant is asked to review the experience. This approach would have minimal legal, ethical, and financial concerns. The model at the other extreme would be the Mayo Clinic. You present yourself to a group of highly paid professionals, expecting them to efficiently diagnose and fix the health problem. I think there are clinics around the world that would like to be the Mayo Clinic for those with EHS, but I have no direct experience with them. From what I know about EHS, I am not convinced that the Mayo Clinic model is optimum. Western Medicine has been in denial for too many years about EHS. There are many medical problems that Western Medicine is really good at fixing, but EHS is not one at the present time.

I am of the opinion that we need to keep our options open in regard to healing those with EHS. If one approach does not help, try another approach. A purpose statement I saw recently stated it well: "We acknowledge and hold in equal esteem the healing power of Western Medicine, Eastern Medicine, Indigenous Medicine, Energy Medicine, Prayer, Mind-Body Medicine, Nutrition, Natural Medicine, Homeopathy, Yoga, Movement Arts and all integrative practices that heal." (Global Foundation for Integrative Medicine, gfimusa.com).

I am hopeful that having several with EHS living in adjacent houses will evolve into a community that wants to heal, sharing suggestions that each found helpful at some point, sharing the occasional supplement capsule, even praying for one another. This Institute may never be a Mayo Clinic in reputation, but it can still be a place where healing regularly occurs.

Visitors are welcome. Dr. Johnson is usually somewhere on the 60 acres between 8:30 and 4:30, Monday through Saturday, in good weather. A 48 hour notice would be a good idea. The phone number at the Institute is 719-458-1111, with Voicemail capability. The email address is gjohnson@ksu.edu. I have not heard of any problems with GPS finding 745 Shaft, although it may think the address is in Florence rather than Rockvale. If you do not have GPS (or cannot use it) then the following directions may be useful. From Canon City: Find the intersection of Highway 50 (Royal Gorge Blvd) and HW 115 (9th St.). This is adjacent to the historic downtown. Go south on S. 9th. After the roundabout you will be going east on Elm St. and still on HW 115. Follow HW 115 for about 5.5 miles (from HW 50). Turn right at the road sign with WILLIAMSBURG ROCKVALE and COAL CREEK on it. This is County Road 11A. Go about 2.7 miles on this road. The street signs say CR11a, then Churchill, then May. Turn right on Shaft Ave. and follow it to the cul-de-sac at the end of the street, about 0.4 mile. 745 Shaft is the last house on the street, on the left.

From Florence: Find the intersection of HW 115 (Main St.) and HW 67 (Pikes Peak) at the center of town. (Note: there are at least 20 antiques stores in a two block radius of this intersection.) Follow HW 115 west for about 2.8 miles, then turn left at the sign WILLIAMSBURG ROCKVALE and COAL CREEK. Then follow the directions in the previous paragraph. This section of HW 115 is very crooked. Watch out for the corner where HW 115 leaves Main St. (turning north) just a few blocks west of HW 67. It is marked, if you are looking in the right place.