Don’t let your workplace make you ill!
Sick building syndrome (SBS) is a phenomenon affecting building occupants who claim to experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building, but where no specific illness or cause can be identified.
Victims of sick building syndrome exhibit various symptoms that include headaches, dry itchy skin and irritation of the mucous membranes in the eyes, nose and throat.
Managing and maintaining healthy building conditions play an integral role in minimising occupational risk, liability, and sustaining a company’s overall performance and reputation. In addition, healthy buildings contribute to employee well-being, health, and productivity in the workplace.
Causes of Sick Building Syndrome
Many paints, carpet fibers, furniture, and even wallboard off-gas noxious fumes, sometimes for years after installation. These products may emit formaldehyde, acetic acid, or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other chemicals. Modern office equipment such as copiers and electrostatic air cleaners add to the problem by adding ozone to the mix. Mold or mildew from damp conditions also create air quality problems.
Resolving Sick Building Syndrome
OSHA and most other government agencies that have weighed in on sick building syndrome believe the problem is primarily related to indoor air quality. NIOSH research breaks down how frequently poor indoor air quality could be traced to specific sources:
- Inadequate ventilation: 52% of cases
- Contamination from inside building: 16%
- Contamination from outside building: 10%
- Microbial contamination: 5%
- Contamination from building fabric: 4%
- Unknown sources: 13%
According to OSHA, improving ventilation and eliminating sources of smog or contaminants in the air are the best actions to take if you suspect you have a sick building.
- Here some advices:
- Clean up wet or damp areas.
- Install HVLS fans for ventilation.
- Perform regular HVAC maintenance.
- Install air cleaners or filters.
- Choose interior materials carefully.
Indoor air quality can have a profound effect on the health and productivity of your employees or building occupants. HVLS fans, mold remediation, and thoughtful selection of materials during renovations can help to clear up or prevent sick building syndrome problems.