Critical, and essentially the basis of many of my design principles. I will break each down real quick.
Air - this is probably the hardest to tackle as it is essentially invisible. Most people don’t realise they have poor indoor air quality (IAQ) until we test. Exposure to indoor air pollutants have been repeatedly linked to asthma, allergies, bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Have you ever cooked chillies or burnt toast and noticed how you start coughing or get irritated eyes, nose or throat? That is particle matter in the air.
Air filtration is the best way to tackle poor IAQ, and one of the most important inclusions in any project I tackle, beginning with dust mitigation and filtration during construction, air scrubbing with HEPA filters post construction (coupled with a good post construction deep clean) and then finally whole home (where possible) or smaller individual room air filtration.
Water - a little more obvious as it is usually visibly discolored or tastes or smells weird! If the project allows, a whole home filtration system is the best approach but sometimes (especially in NYC) point-of-use filters are the right solution for the project, which is specified based on site specific water testing. Where possible, we also like to filter the bathroom shower and faucet as we absorb a lot of the chemicals through our skin while bathing.
Light - I personally have always been affected by the quality of light - technically we all are, we just don’t even realise it (example, how much happier are people in the bright light of summer compared to the grey darkness of winter?).
Light is especially important in the bedroom environment where our sleep is affected by overlit spaces and electronics. I am very passionate about bedroom hygiene because quality sleep is the key to health in my opinion (sleep deprivation is considered a public health concern according to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]).
I always advise clients to assess their sleep environments for harsh overhead lighting (I like to light my room with a salt lamp as I feel this gives off such a soft gentle glow), day-light infiltration (a blackout environment is best for restorative sleep) and removing electronic devices (easier said than done with phones, but sorry the TV has got to go), there are also blue-light glasses that I suggest for those that can’t stop won’t stop with the gadgets.
Noise - Another factor many clients hadn’t really considered until it is pointed out to them. A lot of my clients in the city face onto busy roads with traffic at all hours (I used to be one of them, Duane Reade 3am truck deliveries were a constant wakeup factor for me) or have neighbours whose noise transmits through their (thin) walls! This is a little harder to fix without renovation but since having my baby I cannot speak highly enough of the simple white noise machine and good quality ear plugs (these are also great for sleep training lol)! Photo credit Christian Torres (@christiantorresphoto)