[GSBN] research into air quality in straw bale house

martin hammer mfhammer at pacbell.net
Wed Dec 3 10:50:20 CST 2014


Thanks for looking into this. I agree with Derek this is a very important
subject, and one that has been virtually ignored to date (as far as I know).

I¹ve been concerned for some time about whether the ³straw odor² one
sometimes detects in a straw bale building signifies any unhealthy
substances in the air. In my experience there is a wide range, from no
straw-associated odor at all, to a hint of the odor of ³bright² dry straw,
to a musty odor likely signifying higher than desirable moisture content in
the straw, to the smell of decomposing straw (and presumably associated
mould) from a serious moisture problem.

There are many factors here, including all the materials used in the wall
system (and all other building components), how tight the building is, the
quality of the air barrier(s), the building¹s heating and/or cooling system,
climate, etc.  Not easy to parse it all out.

We all need to know the facts of the indoor air quality of straw bale
buildings, both apart from and how they compare with the indoor air quality
of buildings using other materials and systems.

Thank you Jakub, and good luck with your research.



On 12/3/14 6:11 AM, "Jakub Wihan" <kuba at jakubwihan.com> wrote:

> Hi All,
> I am doing a research about air quality inside straw bale buildings. I am
> particularly interested in how a "usual" kind of mold in baled straw inside a
> plastered wall affects air quality within indoor environment and how healthy
> that environment is. I would like to know if there is any scientific paper
> written on this subject.
> I hope you will not mind me asking to give me some further links, or pointers.
> In any case, I would be grateful to hear your opinion.
> I have contacted Stephen Collette> http://www.yourhealthyhouse.ca/  to give
> his expertise. I thought it might be useful for all of us to hear. Please see
> excerpt from his e-mail below.
> Thank you.
> Have a peaceful Advent time full of warmth and happiness.
> With warm wishes
> Kuba
> On 3 Nov 2014, at 16:26, Stephen Collette wrote:
>> As for your questions Jakub:
>> I do not have any specific research, university type, looking at the moulds
>> in straw bale homes. I have come across some in my professional practice. (To
>> summarize, I used to build, worked on 2 dozen straw bale buildings. Now I am
>> a consultant, building science geek and know a fair bit about natural
>> building sciences, teaching it through the Building Biology Institute in the
>> US.) 
> ...
>> As for how it impacts the air quality within a house, I would say it is
>> negligible, under normal conditions. Fibreglass, unfortunately common in
>> North America can hold crap loads of mould and water, and that type of wall
>> system is quite "loose" compared to a plastered wall, which are not so common
>> here. Plastered walls reduce air leakage, and therefore pathways of concern.
>> Also the walls are so dense, to slow air movement in and of themselves,
>> irrespective of the plaster.
>> All the best.
>> Cheers
>> Stephen
>> Stephen Collette BBEC, LEED AP, BSSO
>> Your Healthy House - Indoor Environmental Testing & Building Consulting
>> http://www.yourhealthyhouse.ca <http://www.yourhealthyhouse.ca/>
>> stephen at yourhealthyhouse.ca
>> 705.652.5159
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