What is Sick Building Syndrome?

Sick building syndrome (SBS) is known as a number of conditions that happen resulting from exposure to dangerous chemical toxins in the home or in the workplace. It affects office workers, who are afflicted with respiratory problems and headaches attributed to stressful or unhealthy factors in the workplace, such as poor ventilation.

Sick Building Syndrome is primarily experienced due to spending extensive time in poorly ventilated, well-sealed buildings which hold indoor air toxins. Some ‘sick’ buildings may include toxins such as dust mites, formaldehyde and other synthetic fibers found in furniture, cigarette smoke, mold and mildew, gasses that are released from fabrics, VOCs, and others.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, SBS indicators include:

  • Occupants of the affected building complain of indicators such as headaches, nose, eye and throat irritation, itchy or dry skin, dry cough, nausea and dizziness, fatigue, difficulty in concentrating and odor sensitivity.
  • Symptom causes are unknown.
  • Many of the sufferers report feeling relief once they leave the building.

What You Can Do

If you believe your home or workplace could be a Sick Building Syndrome carrier, take action immediately. One culprit could be improper ventilation. Increase air distribution and ventilation rates to reduce levels of indoor pollutants in a cost-effective manner. Fans, such as whole house fans, can be helpful to improve air quality and ventilation.

In addition to the treatment of your recurring symptoms, it is essential you improve your air quality in your home or work building. As soon as the building stops producing toxins, symptoms tend to go away.

Nature has ways of cleaning the air. The UV waves and negative ionization from sunlight works great for cleaning air. Let some rays in by opening up blinds. Also, open up doors and windows to let negative ions and ozone help in the removal of these toxins.

If you are an employee and it’s apparent that SBS is a problem in your workplace, you should speak with your line manager. He or she should investigate the problem further and get help from the health and safety representative. It is the duty of your employer to investigate the issue.

Health and Safety Executives (HSE) suggests employers take specific measures, such as carrying out surveys to see whether symptoms are present in employees, checking the overall cleanliness of the building, checking ventilation systems and heating/AC units, and making sure they are being maintained to investigate the possible causes of SBS. Employees can help out as well by not blocking grilles or vents, not smoking indoors, getting rid of garbage right away, and storing food properly.