Interview with Nicole Bijlsma

Nicole Bijlsma

About 14 years, I first met Nicole Bijlsma in my first year of my Chinese medicine studies. She was a guest lecturer and taught us about Feng Shui. The very next semester, I enrolled in the course…

And so began the journey…

It was in this course that I first heard about “chemical sensitivities.” This information served me well in diagnosing myself when mine developed.

Laying in my hospital bed, I determined that when I was well enough, I would study building biology and prevent others from becoming as sick as I had.

Once qualified, I joined the committee of the Australasian Society of Building Biologists where Nicole and I worked closely for several years, with each of us taking the role of President in that time.

She was a speaker at both Environmental Sensitivities Symposiums and then brought me onto staff at “the college” (Australian College of Environmental Studies). We work closely together and have a firm friendship.

Here is a more formal introduction:

Nicole Bijlsma has experienced first hand how the environment impacts health. As it was for me, it was this journey, and observing her patients, that prompted her study into Building Biology.

She is the founder of the Australian College of Environmental Studies. Nicole is the author of Healthy Home Healthy Family, which has been featured on every major television network in Australia. This third edition is vastly different from the previous two. It utilises almost 900 references, and is therefore a rich source of evidence-based information.

I interview Nicole here about the third edition of her book and ask some questions that we are all hanging out to hear her opinion on!

Vacuum Cleaners

Vacuum Cleaners. What to look for in a good one…

With the enormous range of vacuum cleaners on the market, how do you choose what is best for your needs?

Is the price the best way to determine? What else should you consider?

Is it enough to get one that sucks – or will it suck?

How do you know?

In this video, I explain what to look for when you are considering vacuum cleaners.

What to Consider When Looking for a New Vacuum Cleaner

Vacuum cleaners are an important part of our cleaning practices, and it is important to get a good one.

That said, there are vast differences between the models on the markets, as well as staggeringly different price ranges.

What To Look For


A turbo head means that the brush is powered electrically and can “thump” the carpet to loosen dirt that has lodged further down in the pile. A powered head is one that is “powered” by the air passing by as it sucks – this is a less powerful option, but better than neither.


Ensure that the vacuum cleaner has a genuine HEPA filter in it. A HEPA filter is designed to capture the dust that would ordinarily come out of the vacuum cleaner – it prevents that act of vacuuming from being just an exercise in dust recirculation. Originally it was just for people with allergies, nowadays it is a common feature.


This will depend on whether the person who would empty it has dust mite allergies or not. If they do, a disposable bag is less risky. If not, environmentally, a bagless is better as it creates less waste, and it is less ongoing expenses without bags.


This is about choice – what do you prefer to use? What sort of storage space do you have?

Whichever one you choose, make sure it will suit your purposes and not be so heavy that it is difficult to manage.


Make sure that the vacuum cleaner you choose matches the floor coverings you have. Some on the lower end of the scale are only suitable for carpets, whilst others may only suit hard floors. If you only have hard floors, check reviews (such as Choice magazine or online forums) in terms of how they behave. In the past, there have been issues with many vacuum cleaners actually scratching or damaging floorboards.


Accessories and features such as these can be excellent. If the price excludes you from these optional extras, a damp microfibre cloth is a great cleaning option.

Cleaning Tips

Research was done by Dr Peter Dingle who found that a quick vacuum over your floors was not enough to get a good clean happening.

It is important to spend good minute on every 1m square of carpet. By doing this just once every six weeks, you will be cleaning your carpets far better than if you did a quick vacuum over the house every week.

That is a lot of time in one small area, and if your house is fully carpeted, then you will be spending a LOT of time vacuuming.

What I recommend:

  • Create a list which sequences the carpeted rooms in your house
  • Each week, vacuum one room “in detail” – and lightly vacuum (as you used to) the other rooms
  • Rotate the focus room each week

In this way, all of your carpets get a thorough vacuum, and you don’t spend every waking moment vacuuming 😉

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