What are 'Healthy Materials' and what should we look for when choosing materials using a health-conscious mind?
There are many questions and implications about health in materials, in times of a pandemic and in times of routine. Here are some things you should consider when choosing materials for a new project:
Other health values of materials are related to the physical and environmental conditions to which the material will be exposed to during its life, such as changes in temperature and humidity, scratches or stress, as well as the interaction between the material and the body (humans and animals). For example, the encounter of a certain material with saliva or sweat can produce a chemical-allergic reaction, while an encounter of a material with the soil or changing weather can cause the decomposition and dispersion of contaminants that can penetrate food and drinking water. Finally, as in any other aspects of the design process, it is important to keep in mind that sometimes the end-user will use a material, product or space in a different way than intended, intentionally or unintentionally.
With so many questions and considerations, it is difficult for designers and engineers to decide which material would be the right choice; however, many tools are available.
One of the main ones is learning about the material's use environment and identifying potential effects that may come from it. It is also recommend to learn the uses and behaviors of particular materials in different fields, and of course learn the materials' technical information and standards for compliance. Usually consulting and asking open questions will be very helpful in order to expand possibilities and find better solutions.
Another useful resource could be Material Libraries, which collect and share rich knowledge from the field of materials. Some Material libraries specializes in specific field, such as Parsons Healthy Materials Lab, which of course, specializes in health in materials, and some, like the one at Design Museum Holon, holds a rich and diverse collection of materials and allows free online access to the entire materials-collection (bilingual, including suppliers contact information).
*This article was first published on Aharon Feiner Eden Materials library's website