Health Issues

Sick Building Syndrome

Is your home or office making you sick?

Indoor air quality can have a big impact in both the home and the office, potentially leading to sick building syndrome (SBS) if it's poor. Air quality can go downhill as a result of the building's design or indoor activities. If a building is maintained or operated improperly, problems can also occur.

Contributors to poor air quality

Poor air quality can encompass biological contaminants such as bacteria, mold and viruses; chemical contaminants such as volatile organic compounds; and insufficient ventilation. Other contributors to feelings of unease in the home or office can be temperatures, lighting and humidity that are too high or too low.

Suffers of indoor allergies can have their condition worsened by living or working in areas with poor air quality. Residents or workers in those environments experience poor health and low comfort levels that can't be directly attributed to an illness. Instead, symptoms can often be linked to spending time in a certain room or building.

It has been said that over 25 percent of buildings worldwide get complaints about indoor air quality or sick building syndrome. Some buildings go through temporary problems, while others are cause for concern in the long term.

Possible symptoms of sick building syndrome

  • Headache
  • Eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Dry or itchy skin
  • Nausea and dizziness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Dry cough
  • Fatigue
  • Odor sensitivity

Obviously, these symptoms can come with a variety of indoor health concerns. But if no other cause can be found and the symptoms ease upon leaving the building and begin again upon re-entry, sick building syndrome may be involved. A long list of potential causes must be crossed out first, including allergies, hypersensitivity, unrelated illnesses, stress and more. It is possible that symptoms may be aggravated by indoor air but caused by something else initially.

Solution to sick building syndrome

It may not be possible to positively diagnose all cases of sick building syndrome, but steps can be taken to make the environment better for everyone. Clean and replace existing air filters or purchase an air purifier system if there isn't one already. Clean often and thoroughly, wearing a suitable dust mask, and avoid bringing unnecessary chemicals into the building.

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