DIF FIlm New Frontiers: Health, Materials and Design

  • Speakers:
  • Alison Mears, Catherine Murphy

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According to the EPA, Americans spend more than 90% of our time indoors. Our living spaces are filled with toxic chemicals found in the building that make up our built environment. These chemicals may be released into our interior spaces that we then inhale, absorb and ingest. Scientific studies show that exposures to these chemicals can directly impact human health and have dangerous health effects on our families. The effects are so widespread that pediatricians and environmental health professionals refer to this as a “silent epidemic”.

The Healthy Materials Lab is committed to placing people’s health at the center of all design decisions. Join Alison and Catherine as they advance into the new frontier of healthier materials, change the future of building and, by design, improve the quality of all lives.


Alison Mears

Alison Mears

Director, Healthy Materials Lab

Alison Mears, AIA LEED AP, Director of the Healthy Materials Lab at Parsons School of Design, New York. She is a Principal Investigator of the Healthy Affordable Materials Project. The HAMProject is a 3-year, $7.5 M grant to detoxify the interior environments of Affordable Housing units. Current research focuses on developing and launching a range of strategies that disrupt the building supply chain in Affordable Housing to incorporate human health as criteria for evaluating building products. Other research explores design as a tool to create community-based change in Haiti and Ethiopia.

Catherine Murphy

Catherine Murphy

Senior Researcher

Catherine Murphy is a senior researcher at the Healthy Materials Lab and holds a BA(Hons) Fine Craft Design specializing in Embroidery from the University of Ulster, Belfast and an MFA Interior Design from Parsons The New School for Design.

She is a designer whose practice is dedicated to craft, artistic thinking and the inherent potential of materials. Healthier materials are an essential part of her work. She leads the development and launch of a 4-course eLearning program “Healthier Materials and Sustainable Building” which is available through The New School.

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