Learn about how to avoid Sick Building Syndrome.
Sick Building Syndrome
Sick Building Syndrome and Its Symptoms
- “Sick building syndrome” describes health problems that are linked to time spent in a particular building.
- These health problems often disappear once the person suffering them leaves the building. They also may persist for an extended period.
- Symptoms cannot be traced to a specific illness or cause.
- Common symptoms associated with sick building syndrome include: headache; ear, nose and throat irritation; fatigue; dizziness; nausea; dry cough; dry or itchy skin; and difficulty concentrating.
What Causes Sick Building Syndrome?
Sick building syndrome frequently can be traced to the indoor air quality of the building, which is affected by numerous factors.
Inadequate ventilation means air does not circulate as well as it should through a building, resulting in indoor pollutants lingering in the air and causing symptoms.
Bacteria, mold, pollen, and other biological contaminants can enter a building or grow in neglected areas, creating indoor air pollution that can cause health issues.
Chemical contaminants from inside the building — such as volatile organic compounds found in paint and flooring products; tobacco smoke; and byproducts from improperly vented space heaters or other sources of combustion — can cause sick building syndrome.
Contaminants from outside the building, including motor vehicle exhaust and exhaust from surrounding buildings, can enter a building and cause symptoms of sick building syndrome.
How Indoor Air Quality Can Be Improved
Building owners can improve airflow through a building with the help of fans.
Using paints, flooring, and cleaning products made with low amounts of volatile organic compounds can improve indoor air quality.
Regular maintenance of HVAC systems, including replacing filters, helps keep indoor air cleaner.
Large facilities may benefit from the installation of air cleaners to filter large quantities of multiple types of airborne pollutants.