As many as 30% of new or remodeled buildings report high rates of sick building complaints, at least according to a committee of the World Health Organization. While a good number of sick building complaints are often temporary, some commercial buildings have long-term problems which linger for years. Occupational safety and health noted that poor ventilation is a critical factor that contributes to many of the Sick building syndrome cases.
Sick building syndrome is also referred to as building-related illness [BRI] or environmental illness, or multiple chemical sensitivity [MCS]). Although a definite prognosis of this syndrome is unclear, medics consider this to be an illness that occurs after one has been exposed to some biological contaminants such as viruses, mold, bacteria, and fungi or chemical agents (such as paint fumes and formaldehyde) found in some buildings. The occupants of the building experience some acute health problems yet no specific illnesses can be identified.
According to Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, indoor air pollution is often worse than pollution outdoors. The reason for this is that enclosed areas incubate contaminants creating an environment for pollutants to flourish. some pollutants factors include a buildup of inhalable particles and carbon monoxide, indoor combustion, volatile organic compounds that include styrene, benzene, and other solvents; and airborne allergens, such as spores, viruses, fungi, protozoans and, bacteria.
Poor ventilation in buildings is one the most common causes of SBS. Many modern builders instead of finding better ways of cutting building costs, try to cut the cost of heating and air-conditioning. And, by so doing, they construct airtight buildings. For a better understanding of how air conditioning works: To dilute then remove indoor pollutants, HVAC systems must bring in enough amounts of outdoor air into an enclosed space. The cost implications of cooling hot summer air and heating the winter air are what causes some building engineers to reduce or totally eliminate the amount of outdoor air going into the system during these spells. The results are an accumulation of contaminated air in the buildings and inevitably, an increase in indoor pollutant concentrations.
How to Deal With SBS Effectively
Symptoms of sick building syndrome include headaches and dizziness, fatigue, nausea, poor concentration, chest tightness and a variety of skin irritations. A sure sign that you’re dealing with SBS is that these symptoms ease when you stay away from the building for a while and return once you go back to the building.
As an employer, if you notice a high level of absenteeism and illnesses among your workers, investigate the work environment and the state of the building. If the building has poor ventilation, then It’s probably time you invited air conditioning technician. Leaving Sick Building Syndrome unattended will only work against employee productivity at the workplace.
Once you install an efficient HVAC system, the next thing is to ensure proper maintenance so does not get contaminated. Clogged systems will reduce the air flow and contaminate the air instead of purifying it. Broken humidification and dehumidification systems will all cause bacterial and fungal growth when not properly cleaned. Once these organisms are distributed throughout the building, you’ll end up dealing with SBS. Apart from air conditioning, office furniture and carpets with high contents of volatile compounds contribute to Sick building syndrome.