The Inheritance

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THE INHERITANCE Materials and Health

Parsons, The New School Design Studio III Empowering Healthy Futures MFA Interior Design Fall 2016

THE INHERITANCE Materials and Health

Parsons, The New School Design Studio III Empowering Healthy Futures MFA Interior Design Fall 2016

THE COLLABORATIVE This book was produced as part of Design Studio 3: “Empowering Healthy Futures,” a graduate course for students in the Master’s of Fine Arts in Interior Design program at Parsons School of Design. The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Parsons’ Healthy Materials Lab charged the students with developing design proposals that promote nurturing and restorative spaces with a specific focus on models for Women’s Health Suites. Among the questions explored were: What is the healthiest legacy we can leave as designers? How can design help society to achieve health equity? For the first eight weeks of the semester, students developed individual proposals for Women’s Health Suites based on their respective research and unique design lenses. For the final eight weeks of the semester, students worked as a team to generate four proposals on behalf of the collaborative. Those four proposals took shape through the lens of culture, education and technology, materials and health, and trauma-informed design. The resulting work is a reflection of the eleven designers as a collaborative.

what did you inherit?

Chengcheng Shi My mom’s super thick hair.

Fiona Gibson

My mother’s compassion.

Giorgia Farabegoli

Sam Bennett

My grandfather’s patience and my grandmother’s eyes.

My mom’s honesty.

Monica Kumar

Melissa Mcgraw My mom’s eyes.

My dad’s confidence with tools.

Sarah Burns

Somasree Chandra

William Fryer

Joel Rice

Katrin Renner

Catherine Murphy

My dad’s neuroses.

My grandfather’s watch.

Michael Maggio My surprise twin brother.

My grandma’s charisma.

My greatgrandmother’s bed.

My dad’s watch.

My father’s smile.

TABLE OF CONTENTS What Do We Inherit? - Page 6 Vision and Goals The Community - Page 8 Neighborhood Map The Brownsville Community and Women and Infant Health Material Analysis - Page 10 NYCHA - A Material Analysis DOHMH - A Material Analysis East Harlem Case Study Material Relationships and Risks - Page 11 The Dirty Dozen - Page 21 Healthier Material Alternatives - Page 23 Brownsville Neighborhood Action Center - Page 29 Design Intention Programming Floor One - Page 35 Lobby Material Passport Floor Two - Page 43 Discovery Niche Maintenance Closet Women’s Health Suite Sensory Room The After After - Page 69 Endocrine Disrupters Glossary Get Clean References With Thanks


WHAT DOES ONE INHERIT? One not only inherits keepsakes, wisdom, and values, but also the chemical consequences from one generation to the next.

OUR VISION To simply create a space that passes on the good stuff through moments of delight.

OUR GOALS Remove materials that contribute to the chemical body burden. Reduce physical and mental impacts of toxic stress. Restore balance to body through sensory integration. Enlighten community about materials and their health effects.



The Community Brownsville has a total population of 86,377 - 78% of which are Black, 29% of its population is under 17 and 41% under 24 years of age. Dominated by public housing, Brownsville has the highest concentration of New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments in NYC (18) controlling almost of all of its housing units. It has a rich cultural, social and political history many associate with poverty, which has consistently plagued the neighborhood. Currently 37% of Brownsville residents live below the Federal Poverty Line, it is the poorest neighborhood in Brooklyn and the 7th poorest in New York City. The Issue Teen pregnancy rates in New York City are consistently higher than in the United States, particularly among blacks and Hispanics and within neighborhoods, which have a disproportion of poverty and poor health. Brownsville ranks 8th in NYC at 38.5 per 1,000 girls aged 15-19, it is ranked 4th in the city in infant mortality rates, and ranked highest in the city in Elementary school absenteeism. In 2013 infant mortality rates were almost double in areas of high poverty versus areas of low poverty and almost triple for Black, non-Hispanic babies versus white babies. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is one of the nation’s oldest health agencies. While the services are broad they have a dedicated focus on racial and ethnic health disparities particularly in the underserved communities as these have limited resources and poorer health outcomes. Brownsville is one such community.


New York Public Housing New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) provides housing to 403,000 low-to-moderate income New Yorkers who live in 2,563 buildings in the 334 public housing projects. These developments account for 8.2% of all apartment rentals, making NYCHA the city’s largest, and arguably worse, landlord. NYCHA relies on Federal funds, but since the defunding of public housing that started in 1970’s, NYCHA has faced extreme budget short falls. Currently there is a $18 billion dollar gap between what NYCHA receives in federal funding and what it would take to keep the buildings in a state of good repair. Two thirds of NYCHA buildings are more than 40 years old, and with budget shortfalls, many NYCHA units have fallen into disrepair. In 2013, there was a backlog of 422,639 repairs. Brooklyn has 99 developments, 20 of which are in the Brownsville neighborhood.

104-14 Tapscott Street Brownsville Houses Glenmore Plaza Howard Houses Langston Hughes Apartments Lenox Road-Rockaway Parkway Marcus Garvey Houses Ocean Hill-Brownsville Ralph Avenue Rehab Seth Low Houses Tapscott Street Rehab Tilden Houses Van Dyke Houses Woodson Houses Brownsville Series by REED YOUNG

Janiya Ford, Project Lives

VINYL FLOORING Polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl) presents serious health and environmental concerns throughout its lifecycle as a building product. During production, large quantities of chlorine are used resulting in the formation of the chemical byproduct dioxin, a nondegradable organic compound that is a potent carcinogen. PVC is brittle, so a plasticizer must be added to make flexible vinyl products such as roofing materials, floor tiles, and wall coverings. The main group of plasticizers used are known as phthalates. Throughout their use in buildings, phthalates are released from the plastic over time and end up in both the air and water. These compounds present considerable health risks including cancer, asthma, reproductive damage, and obesity. PVC is difficult to recycle, so most material eventually ends up a landfill. Accidental landfill fires cause carcinogenic dioxin to be released into the air.

Alicia Magan, Project Lives

MOLD With such a large concentration of public housing in Brownsville, many NYCHA problems have become Brownsville problems. Of particular concern are the health consequences of mold growth in one’s home. Studies have shown that individuals are at greater risk for developing long term health problems, when exposed to mold early in life. It not only triggers respiratory conditions like asthma and allergies, but can also bring about more pervasive harm, such as fatigue and depression. With NYCHA’s ineffective efforts to combat the mold growth, individuals in affected apartments often find themselves thinking twice about daily acts as simple as cooking and showering.

Aaliyah Colon, Project Lives

LEAD PAINT Another widespread problem in New York public housing is exposure to lead paint. As lead paint ages, it starts to flake off and turn to dust. When that dust winds up on surfaces subject to extreme temperature change, like window sills, heating pipes and radiators it is spread throughout the air, where it is routinely inhaled by that environment’s occupants. Lead paint poses an even greater risk to very young children who are often crawling around the floor and therefore even more likely to ingest any flakes or dust that have gathered. Even tiny amounts of lead ingestion can dramatically affect a young child’s mental abilities, because of how readily lead is absorbed into the bloodstream at that age. In the past 5 years, more than 200 children residing in public housing developments have tested positive for elevated levels of lead.

Startasia, Project Lives

POOR LIGHTING It has been demonstrated that daylit environments increase occupant productivity and comfort, as well as provide the mental and visual stimulation necessary to regulate human circadian rhythms. While there has been no proven relationship between mental illness and artificial light, statistics show that more access to daylight and softly lit space help to cultivate a warm, inviting atmosphere, increasing the occupants comfort level and therefore decreasing the amount of stress held in the body. In terms of the design focus in the Brownsville neighborhood in correlation to women’s health, natural light and artificial lighting installations are a top priority and will be specified, allowing mothers and their families to decompress as they make use of the building.

EAST HARLEM NEIGHBORHOOD ACTION CENTER Case Study of Material and Health Analysis



Latex Paint

Ceiling Panel

Frosted Glass

Fluorescent Lighting

Security Grate

Plastic Furniture




ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with how our hormones work. By turning on, shutting off, or modifying the body’s signals, they alter the normal functions of tissues and organs, impacting the body’s metabolism, growth and development, sleep, and mood. They are often found in chemicals used as additives in indoor materials. These compounds can leak from materials into food or onto dust that is ingested primarily by toddlers and infants. EDCs can also be transferred from a pregnant mother to her child through the placenta and breast milk. Some of the adverse health consequences associated with the impacts of endocrine disruptors include preterm births, low birth weight, autism, abnormal growth patterns, neurodevelopmental delays, childhood asthma, pediatric brain cancer, testicular cancer, and breast cancer. See page 72 for additional information.



MARMOLEUM This natural linoleum is bio-based, highly durable, non-toxic, and easy to maintain. Made with linseed oil, marmoleum is comprised of 97% natural materials. Not only is it durable and easy to clean, but it is also safe and free of any harmful VOC’s or other toxic chemicals. And unlike hard cold tile floors, it is a warm, comfortable, and affordable flooring option. Many people confuse linoleum with modern vinyl flooring, which is made of synthetics that are petroleum based. Most of today’s vinyl products are composed mainly of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is basically plastic, and has been linked to a wide range of adverse health effects. The natural bactericidal properties of marmoleum prevent micro-organisms including Salmonella Typhimurium and Staphylococcus Aureus from multiplying themselves. It is the continual oxidation of the linseed oil that enables this phenomenon. 23


ROMABIO PAINT Romabio mineral paints are the healthy alternative to acrylic paints, completely Zero VOC, toxin-free, odorless, asthma-free, and naturally mold-resistant. Different than the acrylic based Zero VOC paints in the industry, Romabio mineral paint is made from natural, raw materials manufactured without toxic chemicals that cause Sick Building Syndrome, cancer or asthma. Mineral based paints have unique qualities that prohibit mold growth without adding biocides, antimicrobial agents or mildewcides. Their high pH level naturally creates an environment where mold cannot get its nutrients and survive. Also, mineral paint has a crystalline molecular structure that permits the wall to breath allowing air and moisture to move freely in a closed environment, not inherent in acrylic based products. 24


COLUMBIA FOREST PLYWOOD Plastics used for furniture may negatively affect health depending on what types of chemical ingredients are in that plastic. Phthalates, for example, are a grouping of chemicals commonly added to make plastics more flexible. These additives raise concerns because they are not bonded to the plastic furniture and can migrate or leach out. Due to children’s small size and their propensity to “mouth” or cuddle everything, plastic furniture, could pose serious health threats to children. Fortunately, in this case, there is a healthy and non-toxic alternative, plywood by Columbia Forest Products. In many cases, adhesives used in manufacturing plywood and other wood composites often contain formaldehyde, which is toxic. Columbia Forest Products has developed an alternate adhesive made from soy flour, which is stronger than and cost-competitive with conventional adhesives. Utilizing this environmentally friendly adhesive bound plywood, safe and durable plywood furniture could be substituted as a healthy alternative to plastic.


Natural light

Natural light has been touted for its many aesthetic and health benefits by designers and researchers. Scientists at the Lighting Research Center (LRC), in Troy, N.Y., for example, have reported that Natural Light environments increase occupant productivity and comfort, and provide the mental and visual stimulation necessary to regulate human circadian rhythms. This is a positive and stark contrast to fluorescent lighting; which studies have shown causal links between elongated exposure to fluorescent lights and various negative effects. The nocturnal exposure to light in the short wavelength generated by some fluorescent lamps may interfere with circadian rhythms due to its suppressing effect on melatonin production.

“Our youth walk a narrow line between hope and despair with constant reminders of life’s fragility and yet a journey fraught with changes brings forth beauty and brilliance in unexpected places.“ -Terry Williams Harlem Diary : Nine Voices of Resilience

Betsy Head Park

Brownsville Neighborhood Action Center

DESIGN INTENTIONS This project examined the creation of environments for the most vulnerable members of our communities, infants and their teenage mothers. Our intention is seemingly simple, to understand how material choices can contribute to the creation of healthier options for these young lives. Many of the building products commonly used in construction, especially affordably priced construction, contain chemicals that are linked to sickness and disease in humans. Exposure to these materials can be through ingestion, inhalation, and absorption through the skin. The goal of this design is to remove the harmful chemicals found within the building and replace them with healthy materials. By providing access to natural light, introducing texture for visitors to interact with, and including small details that bring people joy, this environment seeks to provide a happy and uplifting experience. The materials selected in this design are non-toxic, chosen with the intention of creating the healthiest environment for all users of the space.

FLOOR 1 1 / Teen Clinic 2 / Dental Services 3 / Community Area

FLOOR 2 4 / Women’s Health Suite 5 / Children’s Clinic 6 / Family Therapy

FLOOR 3 7 / Gathering Space 8 / Brownsville medical Services 9 / DoHMH Offices
















The Rewall Company

FLOOR 1 Entering from the park, through the lobby the journey begins. A trip through the building is a textural experience spotted with exciting discoveries and educational moments. A fun variety of textures, cheery colors and delightful unexpected details wait around every corner. As you enter into the open and light filled lobby, you are greeted by a welcoming employee sitting at an information desk. Here, you can ask questions, be guided in the right direction, and if you are accompanied by a child, pick up a materials exploration passport. The passport is an interactive and fun way of making discoveries throughout the building. Behind the desk on the wall is a materials wayfinding map displaying the interesting healthy materials found within the building. Each section of this material map is repeated on the appropriate corresponding floor as a helpful place maker.

1st Floor Lobby

1st Floor Lobby



LAminated Plywood Columbia Forest Product

HEMP PANEL Kirei Canamo

Terrazzo Nurazzo

ETCHED Glass Skyline Design


FLOOR 2 As you venture up the stairs to the second floor, you first notice a painted homasote wall speckled with flyers for upcoming events and helpful information. To the right, a colorful glow illuminates a curious niche in the wall. Here, you can stamp your passport and learn about an interesting healthy material. A few steps behind you, heading towards the atrium, is an intriguing wall display. This display case serves to educate visitors about safer ways to clean while highlighting the importance of an underappreciated janitorial position. Nearby, a floor to ceiling glass wall, etched with a map of Brownsville, allows natural light to fill the second floor corridors. The visitors can sit on the stools at the counter, located at the glass wall, and peer through to the first floor lobby.

2nd Floor Etched Glass Atrium

c) 1st Floor Lobby

2nd Floor Vestibule

Interior Stairway

Passport Niche





The Real Paint Co.


Women’s Health Suite Entrance

Women’s Health Suite Play Area

Women’S Health Suite


Cleaning Brush Horsehair



Beach Stones From Nature

Textured plaster American Clay

Sensory Room

Sensory Screen

Sensory Process



BPA Fact Sheet Bisphenol A (BPA) is an industrial chemical used to make polycarbonate plastic resins, epoxy resins, and other products.

BPA is found in: Food Containers Protective and Corrective Eyewear Compact Discs and DVDs Children’s (and Adult) Safety Equipment Store Sales Receipts Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups Epoxy resins Polycarbonate plastic

Possible health concerns: Breast and others cancers Reproductive problems Obesity Early puberty Heart disease

Possible ways to reduce exposure: Eat fresh fruits, vegetables and meat instead of canned – many food cans are lined with BPA. Say no to receipts, since thermal paper is often coated with BPA. Avoid plastics marked with a “PC,” for polycarbonate, or recycling label #7.

Dioxin Fact Sheet Dioxin is an organic chemical that consists of a pair of benzene rings. Because of their chemical stability and their ability to be dissolved by fat tissue, they can exist in the body for years. Highly potent in small quantities, it is measured in parts per trillion, not the parts per million we usually hear. Dioxins are categorized as persistent environmental pollutants. This means two things: they do not degrade in the environment, and they exist indefinitely once released.

Dioxin is found in: Animal products Fruits and vegetables Certain pesticides Chlorine bleach Electrical equipment Caulking

Possible health concerns: Dioxins can disrupt the delicate ways that both male and female sex hormone signaling occurs in the body. Manufacturing processes are the root cause of our dioxin issues today. This includes smelting, chlorine bleaching of paper pulp, manufacturing of herbicides and pesticides, and uncontrolled waste incinerators.

Possible ways to reduce exposure: Products including meat, fish, milk, eggs and butter are most likely to be contaminated, but you can cut down on your exposure by eating fewer animal products.

Atrazine Fact Sheet Atrazine is an herbicide of the triazine class. The substance is widely used on the majority of corn crops in the United States, and consequently it’s a pervasive drinking water contaminant.

Atrazine is found in: Drinking water Corn crops Fertilizer Pesticides, used to control insects, weeds, and other pests Detergents, pesticide formulations

Possible health concerns: Atrazine has been linked to breast tumors, delayed puberty and prostate inflammation in animals, and some research has linked it to prostate cancer in humans.

Possible ways to reduce exposure: Buy organic produce and get a drinking water filter certified to remove atrazine.

Phthalates Fact Sheet Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break. They are often called plasticizers. Some phthalates are used as solvents (dissolving agents) for other materials.

Phthalates is found in: Vinyl flooring Plastic food containers plastic wrap made from PVChildren’s toys Electrical equipment Caulking

Possible health concerns: Studies have linked phthalates to hormone changes, lower sperm count, less mobile sperm, birth defects in the male reproductive system, obesity, diabetes and thyroid irregularities

Possible ways to reduce exposure: Avoid plastic food containers, children’s toys (some phthalates are already banned in children’s products), and plastic wrap made from PVC, which has the recycling label #3. Some personal care products also contain phthalates, so read the labels and avoid products that simply list added “fragrance,” since this catch-all term sometimes means hidden phthalates.

lead Fact Sheet Lead is a metal that is found in nature and is used in many industries and products. Long-term exposure to lead, a naturally occurring metal used in everything from construction materials to batteries, can cause serious health problems, particularly in young kids. Lead is toxic to everyone, but unborn babies and young children are at greatest risk for health problems from lead poisoning — their smaller, growing bodies make them more susceptible to absorbing and retaining lead.

Lead is found in:

Peeling paint and dust in and around homes built before 1978 (when lead was banned in house paint). Painted toys Art supplies Dust Bare soil around homes built before 1978 and near roadways Job sites or hobby areas, such as construction and painting sites, shooting ranges, and electronics, battery and scrap metal recycling facilities.

Possible health concerns:

Can affect brain development and contribute to learning problems in infants and young children. Can increase blood pressure, decrease kidney and brain function, and cause reproductive problems. May increase cancer risk.

Possible ways to reduce exposure:

Keep children away from chipped and peeling paint. Use a certified professional if you plan to permanently remove or seal lead-based paint. Cover bare soil with grass, bark, or gravel, especially near homes built before 1978. Lead poisoning occurs when lead is ingested. Breathing in dust that contains lead can also cause it. You cannot smell or taste lead and it’s not visible to the naked eye. In the United States, lead used to be common in house paint and gasoline. These products are not produced with lead any longer. However, lead is still present everywhere. It is especially found in older houses. Crumbling old paint is a major source of lead exposure, so get rid of it carefully. A good water filter can also reduce your exposure to lead in drinking water. If you work with lead or do house renovation, use proper protective gear. Keep work dust out of your home. Shower after working. Wash work clothes separately. Use cold water for drinking or cooking to reduce release from some faucets and old pipes.

Arsenic Fact Sheet Arsenic is a naturally occurring element widely distributed in the earth’s crust. In the environment, arsenic is combined with oxygen, chlorine, and sulfur to form inorganic arsenic compounds. Arsenic in animals and plants combines with carbon and hydrogen to form organic arsenic compounds. Inorganic arsenic compounds are mainly used to preserve wood. Copper chromated arsenic (CCA) is used to make “pressure-treated” lumber. CCA is no longer used in the U.S. for residential uses; it is still used in industrial applications. Organic arsenic compounds are used as pesticides, primarily on cotton plants.

Arsenic is found in:

Water Art supplies Seafood, especially shellfish. Rice and foods with rice-based ingredients, such as some hot and cold cereals, some infant Formulas, and rice cakes. Rice plants can take up arsenic from water or soil. Hijiki seaweed (short, black, noodle-like seaweed). Some drinking water sources, such as in some places in the Central Valley and Southern California. Some pressure-treated wood used in outdoor structures, such as decks and playground equipment. Arsenic-treated wood was phased out in 2004. Cigarette smoke. Additive(s) put in some chicken and turkey feed to prevent parasites. Some herbal medicines and other traditional remedies, especially from China and India. Some herbicides in limited use on golf courses, cotton, and at sodgrowing facilities

Possible health concerns:

May harm the nervous system and may affect learning in children. May contribute to cardiovascular disease and may affect lung function. May increase cancer risk.

Possible ways to reduce exposure:

Include plenty of variety in your and your children’s diets. Breastfeed your infant if you can. Include alternatives to ricebased foods in your infant’s diet. Do not burn older pressure-treated wood (manufactured before 2004). Have children wash their hands after they play on or around older wooden play structures or decks. If your water comes from a private well, have it tested for arsenic. (If your water comes from a public water supplier, it is already tested regularly for arsenic.)

Perchlorate Fact Sheet Perchlorate, a component in rocket fuel, contaminates much of our produce and milk, according to EWG and government test data.

Perchlorate is found in: Drinking water Almost all food Nitrate fertilizer deposits Detergents, pesticide formulations Polystyrene plastics; and parabens, used to preserve products like lotions and sunscreens

Possible health concerns: When perchlorate gets into your body it competes with the nutrient iodine, which the thyroid gland needs to make thyroid hormones. Basically, this means that if you ingest too much of it you can end up altering your thyroid hormone balance. This is important because it’s these hormones that regulate metabolism in adults and are critical for proper brain and organ development in infants and young children. Trazine has been linked to breast tumors, delayed puberty and prostate inflammation in animals, and some research has linked it to prostate cancer in people.

Possible ways to reduce exposure: You can reduce perchlorate in your drinking water by installing a reverse osmosis filter, eating organic produce, and using a drinking water filter certified to remove atrazine.

Fire retardants Fact Sheet A fire retardant is a substance that reduces flammability of fuels or delays their combustion. This includes chemical agents, but may also include substances that work by physical action, such as cooling the fuels, fire-fighting foams and fire-retardant gels. Chemical fire retardants are common in consumer products. They are added to a wide variety of household items such as furniture, electronics, appliances and even baby products. While one class of fire retardants called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) has been taken off the market due to toxicity concerns, it has been replaced with compounds such as TDCIPP (also known as “chlorinated tris”) and chemical mixtures such as Firemaster® 550. But this is not a victory, because these alternative chemicals are also linked to toxicity concerns such as cancer and endocrine disruption.

Fire retardants are found in: Breast Milk Toxic-laden house dust Foam Furniture Carpet padding Electrical equipment Caulking Paints and surface coatings Chlorinated and brominated flame retardants, used in electronics, furniture, and textiles

Possible health concerns: These chemicals can imitate thyroid hormones in our bodies and disrupt their activity. That can lead to lower IQ, among other significant health effects. While several kinds of PBDEs have now been phased out, this doesn’t mean that toxic fire retardants have gone away.

Possible ways to reduce exposure: It’s virtually impossible, but passing better toxic chemical laws that require chemicals to be tested before they go on the market would help reduce our exposure. A few things that can you can do in the meantime include: use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, which can cut down on toxic-laden house dust; avoid reupholstering foam furniture; take care when replacing old carpet (the padding underneath may contain PBDEs

mercury Fact Sheet Mercury is a metal that is found in nature. It is released into the environment when coal is burned by some industries, and from past use in goldmines. Mercury builds up in certain types of fish.

Mercury is found in: Certain types of fish and seafood. This is the most common source of exposure to mercury. Some imported face creams used for skin lightening, anti-aging, or acne. Silver-colored dental fillings. Glass thermometers, older barometers, and blood pressure gauges. Fluorescent lights, including compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs

Possible health concerns: Can affect brain development and cause learning and behavior problems in infants and children who were exposed in the womb. Can harm the nervous system and kidneys. May affect the heart. May increase cancer risk.

Possible ways to reduce exposure: Choose fish that are lower in mercury, such as salmon, tilapia, trout, canned light tuna, sardines, anchovies, and oysters. Avoid fish that are high in mercury, such as shark, swordfish, orange roughy, bluefin, and bigeye tuna. Do not use imported skin lightening, acne treatment, or anti-aging creams unless you are certain that they do not contain mercury. Properly recycle CFL bulbs. Properly clean up broken thermometers, CFL bulbs, and other items containing mercury. Do not let children play with silver liquid from items like mercury thermometers.

Perfluorochemicals (PFCs) Fact Sheet Perfluorochemicals are used to make various products resistant to oil, stains, grease, and water.

PFC’s is found in: Some foods, such as some red meat and packaged snacks like potato chips. It is not yet known which foods might regularly contain PFCs. Certain grease-repellent paper food containers, such as some microwave popcorn bags, takeout boxes, or fast-food wrappers. Stain-resistant carpets and some carpet cleaning solutions. Stain-resistant, water-resistant, and wrinkle-resistant fabrics and some stain- and water-repellent sprays. Most non-stick cookware.

Possible health concerns: May affect the developing fetus and child, including possible changes in growth, learning, and behavior. May decrease fertility and interfere with the body’s natural hormones. May affect the immune system. Might increase cancer risk.

Possible ways to reduce exposure: Avoid buying stain-resistant carpets. Avoid buying products labeled stain-resistant, water-resistant, or wrinkle-free, such as some fabrics, furniture, or clothes. Avoid using sprays and carpet cleaning solutions that contain PFCs. Because PFCs can come out of products and collect in dust, wash your hands often, especially before eating and preparing food, clean your floors regularly, and use a damp cloth to dust.

Organophosphate Pesticides Fact Sheet Organophosphate pesticides are used in commercial agriculture to control pests on fruit and vegetable crops. They are also used in home gardens, for flea control on pets, and in some no-pest strips. In the past, organophosphate pesticides were widely used inside homes to control pests like termites and ants, but these uses have been discontinued.

Organophosphate pesticides is found in: Some flea and tick collars, shampoos, sprays, and powders for dogs and cats. Some garden pest control products and no-pest strips. Some fruits and vegetables. Small amounts of organophosphate pesticides found in these foods come from agricultural pesticide use. Air and dust in areas where organophosphate pesticides are used, such as some farms or home gardens. Some treatments for head lice.

Possible health concerns: May affect the nervous system. May harm the developing fetus, possibly affecting later learning and behavior

Possible ways to reduce exposure: Use pesticide-free methods for pest prevention in your home and garden. If you choose to use pesticides, consider baits and traps instead of sprays. Always follow directions for use, storage, and disposal. To help control fleas without pesticides, comb pets with a flea comb, regularly bathe pets with pesticide-free shampoo, and wash pet bedding. If a pesticide is needed for flea control, consider safer spot-on treatments or oral medications for your pet. Ask your veterinarian about the safest choices.

Glycol Ethers Fact Sheet Glycol ethers form a varied family of more than 30 solvents. All these glycol ethers have different properties – and are therefore fit for different uses. Traditionally, a distinction is made between two main groups of glycol ethers: E series and P series, depending on whether they are made from ethylene or propylene. In each group, different derivatives have been developed to provide the properties of solubility, volatility, compatibility and inflammability required for the applications.

Glycol Ether is found in: Glycol ethers have a very diverse range of uses. Currently, the most widespread use of glycol ethers is in surface coatings and inks. Many water-based coatings (both for consumers and in industry) would not function without glycol ethers. Glycol ethers are found in applications as diverse as decorative consumer paints and the painting operations of car manufacturers. Other important coating types include can and wood coatings, coil and anticorrosion coatings. Glycol ethers are also used in adhesives and inks, particularly in screen printing. Other important applications include cleaning products, cosmetics, specialty chemical manufacture (including pharmaceuticals), electronics manufacture, leather goods manufacture and hydraulic fluids (e.g. brake fluids). Smaller uses include manufacture of fire fighting foams, agricultural products and in the paper, textile, rubber and construction industries.

Possible health concerns: The European Union says that some of these chemicals “may damage fertility or the unborn child.� Studies of painters have linked exposure to certain glycol ethers to blood abnormalities and lower sperm counts. And children who were exposed to glycol ethers from paint in their bedrooms had substantially more asthma and allergies.

Possible ways to reduce exposure: Avoid products with ingredients such as 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol (DEGME).


Lavender-Lemon Disinfecting Spirits Spray Yield: 1 pint - ¼ cup vodka (a cheaper one will do). - ½ cup 3 percent hydrogen peroxide (yup, the stuff from the drugstore) - 1 cup water - 5 drops grapefruit seed extract (optional) - 10 drops essential oil of lavender (optional) - 5 drops essential oil of lemon (optional) In a spray bottle, combine all the ingredients and swirl to mix them. Do not shake the bottle vigorously or the active oxygen in the hydrogen peroxide will go flat and lose its action. Spray the surface and wipe it, or spray it and let it dry. It will keep indefinitely.

Clear and Clean Glass Spray Yield: 1 Quart -

¼ ½ 1 8

cup distilled white vinegar teaspoon liquid soap (dish soap or castile soap) ¾ cups water drops essential oils of your choice

In a spray bottle, mix together all of the ingredients. Spray the cleaner on glass, windows, and mirrors and wipe until clear and dry. (Newspaper works well for glass)

Oxygen Bleach Toilet Scrub - 1 tablespoon castile or other liquid soap - 2 tablespoons oxygen bleach powder - 2 tablespoons baking soda - 8 drops essential oil of lavender, lemongrass rosemary, and/or sweet orange Squirt the soap into the bowl, sprinkle it with the oxygen bleach powder and baking soda, then add the essential oils and scrub the bowl with a toilet brush. For tough stains, let the solution in the the bowl for 10 to 15 minutes and scrub it again. Flush and be merry.

All-Purpose Citrus Spray Yield: 1 Pint - ½ cup white distilled vinegar - 1 tablespoon Citra-Solv Cleaner and Degreaser concentrate - ½ teaspoon liquid dish soap or castile soap - 1 ½ cups warm water - 12 teaspoon total antispetic essential oils, such as lavender, lemon, rosemary, or tea tree. In a spray bottle, combine all the ingredients and shake well to mix. Spray and wipe as you go. The solution will keep indefinitely.

Heavy-Duty Formula for Floors - 2 gallons warm water - ½ up white vinegar - ¼ cup Citra-Solv Natural Cleaner and Degreaser (undiluted) - 2 tablespoons biodegradable liquid dish soap - ½ teaspoon essential oil of lavender (optional) Mix all of the ingredients in a bucket. For heavy duty action on non wood floors, wet the floor with this formula and let it stand for 10 to 15 minutes before mopping. Don’t let it sit on wood floors, however.

The Glossary

ALLERGEN Anything that causes an allergic reaction, such as pollen, dust mites, or animal dander (skin protein that flakes off). ASTHMAGEN An asthmagen is any substance that is causally-related to the development of asthma symptoms. BIOACCUMULATION Bioaccumulation is the increasing concentration of a toxic substance in a living organism as it takes in contaminated air, water, or food because the substance is very slowly metabolized or excreted. BISPHENOL A (BPA) Bisphenol A (BPA) is used to manufacture polycarbonate (clear, hard) plastics and epoxy resins. The plastics are used in many consumer products, such as drink bottles, DVDs, eyeglass lenses, electronics, car parts, and other products that must not break easily. Epoxy resins are used for lining food cans and water pipes, and for many sales receipts. Most recent testing has shown the largest health-related concern to be potential impacts on the brains, behavior, and prostate glands of fetuses, infants, and small children so most health organizations advise against the use of BPA for baby bottles and related products. BPA has also been found in breast milk. Bisphenols (BPA, BPB, BPS) Bisphenols are industrial chemicals that have been used to make polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins since the 1960s. Polycarbonate plastics are often used in containers that store food and beverages, such as water bottles. Epoxy resins are used to coat the inside of metal products, such as food cans, bottle tops and water supply lines. Some research has shown that bisphenols can seep into food or beverages from containers that are made with them. Exposure to bisphenols is a concern because of possible health effects to the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children. Body Burden The total amount of a particular chemical present in a human’s or animal’s body, typically a radioactive element or other toxic substance. Carcinogen A substance that can cause or contribute to cancer. CDPH Standard Method (Standard Method, 01350 Standard) CDPH Standard Method is the “Standard Method for the Testing and Evaluation of Volatile Organic Chemical Emissions from Indoor Sources Using Environmental Chambers” published by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

Chlorinated Polyethylene (CPE) And Chlorosulfonated Polyethylene (CSPE) Chlorinated Polyethylene (CPE) and Chlorosulfonated Polyethylene (CSPE) are Persistent Organic Pollutant Source Materials: due to their carbonchlorine bases, these products contribute to the creation of dioxins and furans at different points in their life cycle (often manufacturing and/or disposal). According to the World Health Organization, dioxins are some of the most potent toxins known to humans, with no known safe limit for exposure and a strong propensity for bioaccumulation. In addition, dioxins are highly persistent in the environment. Similarly, furans accumulate in animal fat, concentrating as they travel up the food chain. Non-chlorinated polyethylene products are readily available in many product categories. ​Chloroprene (Neoprene) Chloroprene is a Persistent Organic Pollutant Source Material. Due to its carbonchlorine base, it contributes to the creation of dioxins at different points in its life cycle (often manufacturing and/or disposal). According to the World Health Organization, dioxins are some of the most potent toxins known to humans, with no known safe limit for exposure and a strong propensity for bioaccumulation. In addition, dioxins are highly persistent in the environment. Dermal Absorption A route of exposure by which substances enter the body through the skin. Endocrine Disruptors A substance that mimics, blocks, or interferes with hormones and their production, metabolism, and excretion causing malfunction of the endocrine system which can lead to malfunction of the reproductive, nervous, and immune systems. Exposure Contact with a substance through inhalation, ingestion, or dermal absorption. Exposure Pathways The way in which people are exposed to radiation or other contaminants. The three basic pathways are inhalation (contaminants are taken into the lungs), ingestion (contaminants are swallowed) and direct (external) exposure (contaminants cause damage from outside the body). chain. In addition, certain halogenated products have shown evidence of harm to humans and other animal species. According to the Washington State Department of Ecology, for example, the toxicity endpoints of concern for Penta-PBDE include adverse effects on neurological development, reproduction, thyroid hormone disruption and possible liver toxicity.

Halogenated Fire Retardants (HFRs) Halogenated Fire Retardants (HFRs) are a broad class of flame retardants containing chlorine or bromine that have aroused concern due to their exponential accumulation in human beings in recent years. HFRs are persistent bioaccumulative toxins, meaning that they accumulate in organisms and the broader environment, often reaching alarmingly high concentrations as they travel up the food chain. In addition, certain halogenated products have shown evidence of harm to humans and other animal species. According to the Washington State Department of Ecology, for example, the toxicity endpoints of concern for Penta-PBDE include adverse effects on neurological development, reproduction, thyroid hormone disruption and possible liver toxicity. Hazard The inherent capacity of a substance to cause an adverse effect to health or the environment. “Hazard” is not synonymous with “risk” and/or “exposure”. High-Touch Surfaces (High-Contact Surfaces) Surfaces that are frequently touched by building users and occupants such as door knobs, hand rails and tables. Ingestion A route of exposure by which substances enter the body through the mouth. Inhalation A route of exposure by which substances enter the body through the act of breathing. Off-gassing Off-gassing is when new, manufactured items in our homes release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other chemicals. Persistant, Bioaccumulative, And Toxic Substance (PBT) A highly toxic, long-lasting substance that can build up in the food chain to levels that are harmful to human and ecosystem health (EPA PBT Chemical Program). Persistant Organic Pollutant (POP) A chemical substance that persists in the environment, bioaccumulates through the food chain, and poses a risk of harming human health and the environment. adhesives, and sealants) are of particular concern because they can directly impact the health of installers who may not be using breathing or dermal protection, unlike in-factory wet applied materials that are (usually) applied with worker and environmental protections in place.

Phthalates Chemicals used to soften plastics in many consumer products, including children’s toys, plastic containers, and personal care products. Phthalates can seep out of these products, and studies have shown that phthalates can disrupt the endocrine system, which is the body’s system of regulating hormones. Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) PCB manufacturing in the US stopped in 1977 but the compound is longlasting in the environment (mostly in soils) around old manufacturing and disposal sites, in old electrical transformers and electrical devices, and in fish and their predators. PCBs make good coolants, lubricants, and insulators for electrical equipment of all kinds. They are known to cause cancer in animals and are probable human carcinogens, but exposure tends to be limited to people who worked in the electrical industry many years ago, lived close to manufacturing sites, and/or ate contaminated fish. Health effects also include acne-like skin conditions and neurobehavioral and immunological changes in children. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) PVC’s vinyl chloride monomer building block is a known human carcinogen, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. In addition, PVC is a Persistent Organic Pollutant Source Material. Due to its chlorine content, PVC often contains other Red List ingredients, such as cadmium, lead, and phthalates. The manufacture and disposal of PVC can result in the production of dioxins and disposal phases. Dioxins, specifically TCDD, accumulate in human and animal tissue and are associated with immune system impairment, damage to developing nervous systems, and damage to the endocrine and reproductive systems. TCDD is listed as a “known human carcinogen” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Risk The likelihood that a living organism will be harmed if exposed to a hazard. Toxic (Toxicant) A poisonous substance that is naturally occurring (e.g., arsenic), synthetic (e.g., bisphenol A), or produced by a living organism (i.e., a toxin). Toxic Stress Toxic stress response can occur when a child experiences strong, frequent, and/or prolonged adversity—such as physical or emotional abuse, chronic neglect, caregiver substance abuse or mental illness, exposure to violence, and/or the accumulated burdens of family economic hardship—without adequate adult support.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) VOCs are members of a large group of organic chemicals that can evaporate into the indoor air under normal temperature conditions and into the outdoor air, causing environmental impacts such as photochemical smog. Their health effects vary widely, from respiratory irritants to human carcinogens (such as formaldehyde), which is a concern since they are ingredients in many products in the built environment. On-site wet applied products (paints, adhesives, and sealants) are of particular concern because they can directly impact the health of installers who may not be using breathing or dermal protection, unlike in-factory wet applied materials that are (usually) applied with worker and environmental protections in place.

The references Healthy Materials Lab The Endocrine Disruption Exchange US Environmental Protection Agency Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Cradle to Cradle Pharos Healthy Building Network

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Glycol Ethers Online Safer Chemicals World Health Organization Environmental Working Group National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) BuildingGreen Declare by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI)

With thanks This work would not have been possible without the support of The School of Constructed Environments at Parsons The New School, The Healthy Materials Lab at Parsons and the many, many faculty that have contributed to research supporting the design. Thank you to Robin Guenther, a principal at Perkins+Will leading our industry in the fight for healthy materials for all people. We are especially indebted to Dr. Anne Murphy, Dr. Miriam Steele and Dr. Terry Williams for their dedication and passion within the fields of family attachment, community and urban life. By having access to their collective body of work we were able to better understand how meaningful design can not only contribute to a neighborhood but also transform the tools that community has to connect to the greater population, to succeed long term. To Josh Langham and the team at the New York City Department of health, thank you for partnering with our studio and giving us a space to share our ideas and values that stretch far beyond New York City. We are grateful for every interaction we have had with members of the Brownsville community over the past four months. Our studio was richer because of you. It made us care. It made us question. It made us stay up late into the night. You fueled our project. Last but not not least, a thank you to our studio professors Catherine Murphy and Michael Maggio, who have pushed us to dig deeper every day and question the social norms that so many overlook without question. This work is dedicated to the people of Brownsville, New York.

All quilt images come from The Quilts of Gee’s Bend. Gee’s Bend quilts are created by a group of women and their ancestors who live or have lived in the isolated African-American hamlet of Gee’s Bend, Alabama. For a hundred years, generations of women from Gee’s Bend have quilted together, sharing stories and leaving behind a rich cultural tradition for the next generation.