Is Sick Building Syndrome All In Your Head?
It’s the dirty little secret nobody likes to talk about.
Is your building making you sick?
Every day, we spend our days moving from one building to the next. For some, that means going from a high rise residential building, to a high rise office building, and back home once again.
Even if you live in a single family residence, chances are you probably spend most of your time indoors. According to a recent study, Americans on average spend over 90 percent of their time inside. And in many cases, the air quality inside is much worse than outside.
Sick Building Syndrome refers to a condition where building occupants experience serious health problems that are ultimately linked to the time they spend in a specific building, but in which no specific illness or cause can be identified. For some, the complaints can be localized to one room or office. For others, the entire building may appear to have a problem.
With Sick Building Syndrome, a person recovers when they leave the confines of the room or building. When they enter, the symptoms return. Over the course of days, weeks or even months, the condition progresses, getting worse in some cases. Symptoms often include:
- Respiratory complaints
And while poor indoor air quality is often to blame, it can also be triggered by things like inadequate lighting, noise pollution, vibration, temperature discomfort, and other job related stress factors.
In some cases, one person stands out. In most cases, the person may seek medical treatment, but it’s often not linked back to the source – the building. When groups of occupants begin experiencing similar health problems over a relatively short period of time, these clusters begin shining a light on where the problem may originate.
If indoor air quality is to blame for Sick Building Syndrome, there are steps building management can take to solve the problem. There are three primary reasons poor air quality grows.
1. Airborne contaminants
2. Poorly designed and maintained ventilation system
3. Building design doesn’t match its current use
Which means to improve the air quality, management must:
- Identify the problem and remove or reduce it
- Improve the air filtration system to better clean air the outside into the building
- Improve the ventilation system
- Restructure the building’s structure to better suit its current purpose
If you suspect anyone in your building may be suffering from Sick Building Syndrome as a result of poor air quality, the best place to begin is with an audit.
Is your building safe for the occupants?