It’s often overwhelming, thinking about all the things we bring into our indoor space. It can be easy to ignore, the many toxins and chemicals, that we are bombarded with daily. With the current pandemic affecting millions around the world, it has become so much more important to consider all of these toxins, which can create unhealthy environments that compromise our bodies. To help us find the best ways to reduce these toxins, we tapped architect Pippa Lee, who specializes in designing spaces with health at the forefront. Here, she discusses some of the things we can do, to ensure our spaces are providing healthy environments. Read on to see all of Pippa’s tips!  

Air filtration

According to Pippa, air filtration is key. She says you can purify your air with an air filter. For tight spaces, use a stand-alone HEPA-rated air filter. Make sure to check the maintenance requirements to keep filters working efficiently. Use a stand-alone (most practical) or whole-home air filtration system to reduce fine particles and VOCs in the air. House plants are a good backup system, for when mechanical filtration is not an option. You can also open the doors and windows to help flush built-up indoor air or remove your shoes when you enter your home. It will help limit the spread of dirt, dust, and other airborne particles. Finally, remove air fresheners and scented candles, which are full of VOCs.

Courtesy of Pippa Lee

Water filtration

Pippa recommends using either a countertop, point of use, or whole home water filtration system. This ensures clean drinking water and bathing water is pure for the whole family.

Non-toxic cleaning products

Pippa argues that by using non-toxic cleaning products, we ensure we’re not adding any airborne chemicals to our home. She further says to always air the clothes out of the plastic bags for at least 3-4 hours, before wearing them.

Courtesy of Pippa Lee

Toxins free furniture

Furnishings carry a lot of hidden chemicals, we often don’t see. According to Pippa, purchasing non-toxic furniture will ensure no off-gassing items are degrading your indoor air quality. She says, avoids stain-resistant furniture and clothing as they contain PFC compounds. Hence, make sure that any furniture or clothing purchases have NOT been treated with stain-resistant chemicals.

When looking at larger household items such as furniture, finishes, and materials, the same applies – look for items that clearly disclose what they are made from. Household items such as furniture, finishes (like paint), and materials (like drapery or shower curtains) can contain a harmful mix of off-gassing chemicals (VOCs) such as flame retardants, phthalates, and formaldehyde.

Be wary of foam in cushions, as it is often made of petroleum-based polyurethane, and make sure to choose solid wood furniture as the wood used in typical furniture products, is comprised of particleboard, which often involves the use of formaldehyde. Look for solid untreated wood, natural/raw finishes, organic fabrics, sustainably harvested or salvaged timber, pre-loved antiques (that have finished their off-gas life-cycle), and /or handmade furniture. 

Courtesy of Pippa Lee

Look for eco-friendly, toxins-free finishes. Avoid synthetics, and opt for raw natural untreated materials in their natural state; think timbers, raw handmade tiles, natural renders, and plaster finishes. Also important is finding a design and construction team that shares your vision, if you’re renovating or building. It is all well and good to do your research and select and specify these items, but if your builder is swapping these out behind your back, or does not understand your wellness design goals, then all of your good intentions are out the window! If you are just looking to add items to your home, be mindful, much like looking at ingredients in food, for ‘fast furniture which can be less expensive, but potentially harmful to your health over time.

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