Evidence-Based, Simplified Nutrition and Lifestyle Strategies


DIY Environment Tips for CIRS

DIY Environment Tips for CIRS

Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) is a complex health condition that emerges in response to prolonged exposure to biotoxins, commonly found in water-damaged buildings. Understanding and mitigating exposure to these harmful environments is crucial for those affected by CIRS.


Let’s take a closer look into practical DIY tips for creating a safe living space and preventative strategies to minimize the risk of water damage in your property. By proactively managing your environment, this acts as the foundation for any successful CIRS treatment.


Whether you’re looking to create a safe space for healing or essential preventative tips for keeping your environment safe, we’ve got you covered.


What Is CIRS?



CIRS is recognized as a complex medical condition characterized by widespread inflammation and diverse symptoms that span multiple physiological systems, stemming from an overactive immune response. To accurately diagnose CIRS, a thorough evaluation of a patient’s medical history coupled with specific laboratory tests is essential.


The symptoms of CIRS, which differ greatly among individuals, often lead to misdiagnosis or improper treatment. Distinguishing CIRS from other immune disorders is challenging as it does not manifest through typical autoimmune blood tests, necessitating more specialized diagnostic approaches.


what is cirs



What triggers the severe immune reactions and extensive inflammation characteristic of CIRS? The main culprits are biotoxins—natural toxic substances with a certain molecular weight that play a central role in the onset of CIRS, derived from various sources:


  • Water-damaged environments: Roughly 80% of CIRS cases are linked to exposure to air in water-damaged settings, where mold mycotoxins, bacteria, and other chemical irritants are present. These elements provoke inflammatory reactions in those susceptible to CIRS, with both living and non-living mold components significantly impacting inflammation in the body and brain.


  • Insect bites: Certain tick and spider bites can lead to long-term conditions like chronic Lyme disease, caused by pathogens such as Borrelia burgdorferi and Babesia microti. Additionally, venom from recluse spider bites may cause prolonged health issues.


  • Seafood consumption: The intake of tropical reef fish contaminated with ciguatera toxin, often associated with Pfiesteria and harmful algae blooms including cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), can trigger biotoxin-related ailments. This toxin accumulates as larger reef fish eat smaller fish that have consumed dinoflagellates.


  • Contact with contaminated water: Interactions with or inhalation of water contaminated with toxic algae blooms like Pfiesteria and cyanobacteria can also initiate the inflammatory responses seen in CIRS.


  • Other biotoxin sources: Exposure to certain vaccines, viruses, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), endotoxins, and actinomycetes are additional triggers that can lead to the development of CIRS.


cirs water damaged building biochemical stew


Due to their small molecular size, biotoxins are able to penetrate cell membranes, making them nearly undetectable in standard blood tests. These toxins typically enter the body through inhalation, though ingestion, tick and spider bites, and direct contact with contaminated water are also common pathways.


Not everyone exposed to prevalent biotoxins such as mold will develop CIRS; genetic factors and life stressors significantly influence susceptibility to biotoxin-related conditions. Events like severe illnesses, surgeries, high fevers, pregnancies, significant biotoxin exposure, and other traumatic incidents can prompt a cytokine storm. This may trigger the activation of the CIRS gene in those who are genetically susceptible, especially in individuals with HLA-DR genes, suggesting that CIRS may manifest at any stage in life. It is important to recognize that the absence of symptoms does not equate to immunity, and genetic testing can provide vital information for prevention.


While biotoxins might cause immediate illness, most people’s immune systems are capable of identifying and eliminating these toxins effectively. However, in those genetically predisposed to CIRS, their immune systems fail to recognize and clear these toxins, allowing them to linger in the body. This results in a persistent, severe immune reaction and extensive inflammation, leading to a variety of symptoms and chronic health issues.


The biotoxin pathway explains why CIRS is a multi-system, multi-symptom condition, you can learn more about the biotoxin pathway here.


For a more detailed understanding of CIRS, click here.


Pro-Tip: If you think you’re suffering from CIRS, start with our White Glove Service for comprehensive care.


Why Is Creating a Safe Environmental Important for CIRS?


cirs treatment shoemaker protocol


The first step of the Shoemaker Protocol, the only peer-reviewed, clinically-replicable treatment protocol currently available for mold, is getting out of biotoxin exposure. This is essential for all CIRS treatment and long-term management of the condition. In order to complete this step, environmental testing is required. You can learn more about environmental testing here.


Once you’ve completed environmental testing, CIRS patients will determine if their environment is safe or requires remediation. Some patients may choose to move but this differs on a case-to-case basis.


Creating a Safe Environment for CIRS


safe environment cirs


Since creating a safe environment is essential for CIRS treatment, this can often be the most difficult step for many patients. Proper remediation is key. The Surviving Mold Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP) Consensus Statement for Microbial Remediation is currently the most effective, peer-reviewed method for safely remediating properties for CIRS patients.


For individuals with financial constraints who are unable to remediate their current space or move to a safer environment, there are options that some have found effective for navigating around this hurdle.


Creating a Sanctuary Room

With the help of home testing measures, your trusted CIRS practitioner, and potential help from a Shoemaker IEP, find the cleanest room in your home to create a sanctuary room. Make sure all of the items in that room are clean and free from any mold contamination.


We can’t guarantee that a sanctuary room will be effective enough for getting patients out of exposure. Everyone’s mold threshold is different and will require personalized protocols for successful treatment. 


Air Filters

Investing in high-quality air filters such as Air Oasis is one of the easiest, yet highest impact options for improving indoor air quality. It’s important to note that while air filters can make a tremendous difference, they are not effective enough to replace proper remediation. In terms of a sanctuary room, it’s best to have at least two units to create a cross-breeze of filtered air.


Pro-Tip: For individuals using air filters in environments with known water damage and mold, do not use the UV setting on your filters. This kills the mold, causing it to fragment into smaller pieces and making it more difficult to remove from the property. The smaller dead mold fragments are just as inflammatory for CIRS patients and can penetrate the cell wall more easily. The ion setting may be left on in these situations, but it’s recommended to clean all floors and surfaces in that space at least weekly to pick up any particles dropped by negative ions.


More Frequent Cleaning

Keep your sanctuary room clean with frequent HEPA vacuuming and the small particle clean method for all surfaces. For a detailed initial deep clean and ongoing cleaning protocol, you can download our free cheat sheet here.


Since there are active mold sources in other areas of the home, it’s recommended to increase your cleaning frequency for your sanctuary room to help mitigate as much exposure as possible. The goal is to keep your space as dust-free as you can manage.


Other Considerations

If you know where the water damage is within your home, you may use plastic sheets and duct tape to seal that area off. This offers a very temporary band-aid for reducing some of the airborne contaminants, and should only be considered for individuals unable to remediate, move, or are in a temporary, not-ideal living situation.


If there is contamination in your HVAC system, you may also want to consider sealing off any vents inside your sanctuary room.


Campers and RVs

Some of our patients have had success with staying in campers, trailers, and other RVs. We recommend doing your research to find models that utilize less porous/semi-porous materials and that rely more on aluminum and other metal materials. These options can be prone to leaks so always read through reviews and talk to manufacturers to find the right model for you.


Pro-Tip: It’s ideal to have a carport or some sort of covering over your RV to help prevent any potential leaks from the roof. For more insights on particular brands that CIRS patients have had success with, join our CIRS Support Group for more information.


Tents, Sheds, and Tiny Homes

We also have patients who have had success living temporarily in tents, metal sheds, and tiny homes. It’s important to consider all materials used in these as VOCs and off-gassing are commonly problematic for CIRS patients.


cirs environment


Remember, these are some general guidelines for individuals unable to remediate or move. If they aren’t working, it’s critical to work with a trusted CIRS practitioner to find the best next steps for your case.


Tips for Preventing Water Damage and Keeping Your Environment Safe



Preventative Measures

For individuals who have worked to create a safe space, here are important preventative tips for mitigating the risk of water damage events and other sources of potential exposure:


  • Water Leak Alarms: There are many models available including Bluetooth options that will send notifications to your phone in the event of a leak. These should be placed anywhere there’s a water line or could be a potential leak.



  • Humidity Monitors: Make sure your indoor humidity is below 50-55% in all areas of your home including attached garages. There are Bluetooth options you can use for hard-to-access areas such as attics and garages. Otherwise, any hydrometer in an easy place to monitor can be used. 


  • Dehumidifiers: Invest in dehumidifiers to maintain your indoor humidity between 30% and 50-55%. Don’t forget about basements and attached garages. Below 30% indoor humidity is always safe, however, dust can accumulate more so you can turn off dehumidifiers around 30%.  


cirs mold prevention


  • Interior and Exterior Caulking: Make sure all caulking in your bathroom, kitchen, around windows and doors, as well as the exterior, is in good condition. Remove any damaged or old caulking and consider recaulking with a low-VOC option.


  • Water Damage Fan: Having a powerful fan already on hand for drying any excess water can save time and money. 


  • Invest In High-Quality Air Filters: High-quality air filters should be in every living space of your home. Opt for more air filters if finances aren’t prohibiting and you want to reduce your overall dusting requirements. Find our air filter recommendations and best practices in our guide.


  • Proper Ventilation: Ensure your bathrooms and kitchen have proper ventilation. You may need to invest in a charcoal extractor if your kitchen vent doesn’t go directly outside or a bathroom window exhaust vent if your bathroom doesn’t have ventilation. 


cirs home maintenance


  • Air Considerations: Keep ceiling fans running to minimize any stagnant air. Consider running the fan in your HVAC system continuously even if the heat or AC isn’t on. If you don’t have excess humidity, mold concerns from surrounding neighbors, or other environmental issues, you can open your windows for fresh air.


  • P-Traps: Keep P-traps filled with water by pouring a tablespoon of mineral oil on top. This is important for drains that are infrequently used.


  • Drip Pans: Consider installing drip pans under laundry machines, dishwashers, water heaters, and other appliances.


  • Contact List: Having the numbers of a 24/7 emergency plumbing service and a trusted contractor on hand can also help reduce overwhelm if something happens.   


  • Creating a Decontamination Space: Creating a decontamination space for when you come home from questionable environments can help with better efficiency while preventing cross-contamination concerns. Consider the garage, patio/outdoor area, or mudroom/entrance area/ventilated bathroom near the entrance. Have sealed plastic bins for storing outside items and clothing. You may want to have a small suite of cleaning supplies in a caddy for cleaning any outside items and opening packages.


Know The Signs of Water Damage

Water damage is a leading cause of mold proliferation in buildings. It’s crucial to conduct regular inspections of your home or property for evidence of water damage. Below are key indicators to watch for:


  • Persistent musty odors
  • An unexpected spike in your water bills
  • Paint or wallpaper that is bubbling, peeling, or flaking
  • Nail pops visible in drywall
  • Extensive spiderweb-like cracks or fine hairline cracks in walls
  • Discoloration such as water rings, streaks, or stains that appear yellow or light brown
  • Softness in drywall indicating moisture absorption
  • Ceilings that bow or sag
  • Rust-like water stains
  • Mold visibly accumulating in the junctions of ceilings and walls
  • Flooring panels that buckle
  • Floors that are warped, cracked, or show signs of bubbling
  • Edges of floor planks curling upwards
  • A crowning effect where the center of a floor plank rises, giving it a rounded appearance


If you don’t observe any obvious signs of water damage but are concerned about potential past or ongoing issues, consider conducting an ERMI test on your property or consult a reputable Shoemaker IEP  who is experienced with CIRS and mold-related illnesses for a thorough assessment.


Pro-Tip: When contacting local mold remediation services, if they are unfamiliar with CIRS or its implications, it’s advisable to seek a different service provider. For those affected by mold illness, it is crucial to engage only with Shoemaker IEPs and mold remediation firms that adhere to the Shoemaker protocol. Unlike standard mold remediation and inspection services that may use methods primarily designed to kill mold, the Shoemaker protocol is tailored to completely remove mold, addressing the risks posed by dead mold, which can break down into smaller fragments that penetrate cell walls and the blood-brain barrier (BBB).


Should you detect any signs of water damage, act swiftly to resolve the issue to prevent the onset of mold growth. Mold can develop within 24 to 48 hours under such conditions, making immediate action imperative to maintain a healthy indoor environment.




cirs cleaning


Reduce dust accumulation to minimize mold growth. Dust serves as a nutrient source for mold, so maintaining a clean home is essential for health. Utilize HEPA vacuums to effectively capture and remove dust without recirculating it within the building. Prefer HEPA vacuuming to sweeping or using non-HEPA vacuums. Implementing a consistent, weekly cleaning routine that effectively minimizes dust on all surfaces and flooring can promote a healthier living environment.


For cleaning minor mold occurrences, hydrogen peroxide is recommended due to its effectiveness. The use of bleach for mold cleanup is generally discouraged unless you are guided by a Shoemaker IEP who ensures its correct application, which is rare. If mold presence is significant, such as more than what is typically found on shower caulking, professional assessment, and remediation by a Shoemaker IEP are necessary to address the issue properly.


Closing Thoughts On DIY Environmental Tips for CIRS

CIRS is a complicated condition that requires various environmental considerations for optimal healing. We always recommend taking things one step at a time in order to avoid the CIRS overwhelm and minimize any nervous system dysregulation. While it’s a hard diagnosis, it provides many patients with the chance for root-cause healing that was never previously available.


nwj cirs group


Pro-Tip: Are you looking for more in-depth practitioner resources and a like-minded community to support you through your CIRS journey? Join our exclusive CIRS Support Group for the latest research, step-by-step protocol tools, and support to successfully achieve root-cause healing.


Work With Our Trusted CIRS Practitioners

The Nutrition with Judy practice is honored to be a trusted CIRS practitioner support serving clients from around the globe. We’re passionate about helping our clients achieve root-cause healing in order to lead the best quality of life possible that’s nearly symptom-free. Our team is dedicated to finding the answers our patients need. We welcome you to explore our free resources and are always available to support you through personalized protocols. If you’re interested in working one-on-one with our CIRS nutritional therapy team to support you through your journey, our CIRS Support Package delivers the support and accountability for achieving root-cause healing.

Start your root-cause healing journey today and contact us any time with any questions or concerns.


DISCLAIMER: This content is for educational purposes only. While we are board-certified in holistic nutrition and are nutritional therapy practitioners, we are not providing medical advice. Whenever you start a new diet or protocol, always consult with your trusted practitioner first.

Nutrition with Judy

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