Sophia Ruan Gushee & Andrew Pace, founder of Green Design Center and Healthy Home Concierge

Finding Nontoxic Building Materials with Andrew Pace

home detox podcast Jan 31, 2023


If you’re going to redesign a space, renovate, or build a home and if you’d like to choose safer building materials for a healthier indoor environment, then you’ll really appreciate this episode’s guest, Andrew Pace.

Andrew Pace is a Healthy Home Concierge, host of the Non Toxic Environments Podcast, and founder of The Green Design Center, the oldest healthy building supply company in the United States and a leading resource for homeowners and contractors looking to source products that are healthy. A worldwide expert on green and healthy building products and services, Andrew has become one of the single most helpful and educational experts dealing with the day-to-day concerns of those individuals who suffer from allergies, asthma, and chemical sensitivities.


Sophia and Andrew have a great conversation about what will help you identify healthier building materials for your next space redesign, renovation, or if you're building a home.

  • Healthier indoor environments
  • Multiple chemical sensitivity, sick building syndrome
  • Trends in "green," "sustainable," and healthier building materials
  • How to identify practical, nontoxic building materials
  • Household Repeat Offenders: wood, paints, vinyl
  • How helpful is prop 65 when selecting healthier building supplies?
  • Materials for floors and windows
  • How to prioritize your budget


Podcast Show Notes

[00:10]  Introduction of Andrew Pace

  • In "nontoxic" building materials for 30 years
  • Changes in the client profile
    • 90% of the client base in the early 1990s was extremely chemically sensitive, had sick building syndrome, and did not have a choice in the materials used in their homes
    • Today, because of the Internet and more public awareness, the client base has broadened: 5% are extremely chemically sensitive
    • 25-30% of the world's population suffer from chemically sensitive whether they know it or not
  • Trends in healthier, building materials


[01:21] The Resources and Offers of Detox Academy

[05:24] The Typical Consumers and the Changes They Become Today

[07:59] The Function of Information Availability

[09:44] What is Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS)? 

[13:09] How People Develop Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

[15:48] American Medical Association (AMA) Recognizing MCS as a True Disease

[17:12] Radiation Exposures Make People Vulnerable to Toxic Chemicals and Heavy Metals

[18:40] The Personal Story of Andrew Pace to be in this Business and Community

[25:56] Making Sure that the Products are Safe

Testing products for formaldehyde off-gassing

  • Some "formaldehyde-free" products still have formaldehyde from components made by other manufacturers
  • Formaldehyde-free carpets

What you wish more people knew about...

[31:23] The Relationship Between Environmental Health and Human Health

  • While recycled plastic is arguably better for the environment, it can be more toxic to human health
  • Recycled materials can add so many more toxic chemicals into the built environment

[33:02] The Harm Caused by Recycling Products 

[35:12] Talking About Indoor Environment 

  • "Their home needs to be their sanctuary"
  • "That the indoor air quality in their home is paramount to their life"
  • The bedrooms need to be the healthiest spaces in your home
  •  Less toxic paint, carpets

[37:17] What is a Volatile Organic Compound? 

  • VOCs represent volatile organic compounds
  • Changing the Marketing Plan to Sell the Products with High VOCs
  • Solvents in paints
  • There are many harmful VOCs and there are many harmless VOCs
  • Unregulated VOCs
  • VOCs should not be the only metric that use to determine if a product is safe for you
  • How do you prove if a product is nontoxic? What's the test?
  • Using the Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is completely inaccurate in assessing risks to human health. MSDS is not for consumer use. 
  • [35:04] Virgin vinyl can be a good option

  • [42:14] Natural Linoleum

    • Linoleum versus natural linoleum
    • True linoleum is one of the best flooring materials
    • Plastic version of true linoleum
    • Linoleum became a very broad catchall term

[44:46] How Consumers Identify Safer Paint Products

  • Most major paint manufacturers have been sued or fined for misleading claims. AFM Safecoat remains the only company not sued for misleading claims 
  • Any paint color can be matched by AFM Safecoat

[48:35] The Products that AFM Safecoat Offers

  • Paints, sealers (including "safe seal" to block off-gassing), high-performance polyurethane for wood floors, high-performance acrylic cabinetry, waterproofing materials, solutions to seal ducks
  • Solutions for common problems in a home

[49:54] Talking About Wood and Wood Products

  • Aromas From the Wood. Wood has a smell that never goes away. Every species has its own aroma. Organic aromas can't be sealed off. Some are unhealthy. Aromas are derived from sugars and wood terpenes in wood.
    • Most problematic are redwoods, mahogany, mesquite
    • The least aromas are maple and bleach
  • Wood is a sponge, highly affected by humidity.
    • Wood can crack in dry areas
    • Wood can swell in humidity
    • Wood can stain and scratch
  • Wood, especially exterior, requires a lot of maintenance

[53:07] What is a Natural Linoleum?

[55:28] Talking About Vinyl

  • Vinyl is getting better
  • The harder the vinyl is, the less likely it is to have plasticizers, which tend to have endocrine disrupting chemicals

[01:02:20] What is Proposition 65?

[01:07:42] Using Petroleum-Based Products

[01:13:17] The Top 3 Tips to Create a Healthy Home

  • Make the Bedroom the Healthiest Room in the House
  • Carpeting is One of the Worst Things You Can Have in Your Home
  • Don't Sweat the Things You Can't Take Care of Now

[01:15:59] How to Contact Andrew Pace for Consulting


About Sophia Ruan Gushée

Sophia Ruan Gushée is a preeminent nontoxic lifestyle expert, author of the critically acclaimed books A to Z of D-Toxing and EMF Detox Workbook, creator of D-Tox Academy and 40-Day Home Detox, and host of the Practical Nontoxic Living podcast.

She has helped thousands of people eliminate harmful—often hidden—chemicals, heavy metals, and electromagnetic fields from their homes and lifestyles. Based on more than 15 years of tracking the latest research, she believes that removing these toxins is the overlooked key to unlocking greater mindfulness, mental clarity, emotional harmony, and physical healing.

Sophia also works with companies and served on the prestigious Brown University School of Public Health Advisory Council and the exclusive Well+Good Council. She has appeared or been featured on the most popular health and wellness platforms including The Doctor Oz Show, Health magazine, Family Circle magazine, MindBodyGreen, and much more. You can learn more about Sophia by clicking here: Sophia Ruan Gushée.

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About Ruan Living

Ruan Living simplifies a nontoxic lifestyle through its Practical Nontoxic Living podcast, free detox workshops, online D-Tox Academy, and transformative 40-Day Home Detox. It aims to help you avoid toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from what you buy, own, and do— without compromising your joy and convenience. Ruan was founded by Sophia Ruan Gushée, author of the bestselling critically acclaimed book A to Z of D-Toxing: The Ultimate Guide to Reducing Your Toxic Exposures and several detox workbooks. A graduate of Brown University and Columbia Business School, Sophia has served on the Brown University School of Public Health Advisory Council and Well+Good Council. A popular nontoxic living speaker, consultant, and teacher, Sophia lives in New York City with her husband and three daughters. Her passion for empowering others to enjoy nontoxic living began with the birth of her first daughter in 2007. Everything she creates is a love letter to her children and for the healthiest, brightest future possible. You can learn more here: Sophia’s Impact.


This article is for informational purposes only. This information is provided “as is” without warranty.

It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. We do not offer medical advice, course of treatment, diagnosis, or any other opinion on your conditions or treatment options. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Ruan Living.

In no event will Sophia Ruan Gushee or Ruan Living be liable for any damages or loss of any kind resulting from the use of this website. Anyone relying upon or making use of the information on this website does so at his or her own risk.

Some of the services and products recommended on this website provide compensation to Sophia Ruan Gushee or Ruan Living. All recommendations are based foremost upon an honest belief that the product, service, or site will benefit our site visitors in some way.  

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