Sick building syndrome
Sick building syndrome (SBS) is a combination of illnesses (a syndrome) associated with a human's place of work (office building) or dwelling. A 1984 World Health Organization report into suggested up to 30% of new and remodeled buildings around the world may be linked to symptoms of SBS. Most of the sick building syndrome is related to poor indoor air quality.
SBS can be caused by flaws in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Other causes have been contaminants produced by outgassing of some types of building materials, volatile organic compounds (VOC), molds (see mold health issues), improper exhaust ventilation of ozone (byproduct of some office machinery), using light industrial chemicals in the building, or lack of adequate fresh-air intake/air filtration (see Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value).
People try to fix SBS symptoms by increasing the overall turn-over rate of fresh air exchange between the building's air and the outside air. But the new green building design goals should be able to avoid most of the SBS sources in the first place. Janitors should minimize the ongoing use of VOC cleaning compounds, and eliminate conditions that encourage allergenic, potentially-deadly mold growth.
Symptoms[change | change source]
Building occupants complain of symptoms such as irritation of the eyes, nose, throat; neurotoxic or general health problems; skin irritation; nonspecific hypersensitivity reactions; and odor and taste sensations.
Several sick occupants may report individual symptoms which do not appear to be connected. The key to discovery SBS is if a number of people first experience their illnesses within a period of weeks. In most cases, SBS symptoms will be relieved soon after the occupants leave the particular room or zone. However, there can be lasting effects of various neurotoxins, which may not clear up when the occupant leaves the building. Sensitive individuals can have long-term health effects.
Prevention[change | change source]
The following steps can avoid SBS:
- Cleaning roof shingles for non-pressure removal of algae, mold & Gloeocapsa magma.
- Pollutant source removal or modification to storage of sources.
- Replacement of water-stained ceiling tiles and carpeting.
- Use paints, adhesives, solvents, and pesticides in well-ventilated areas, and use of these pollutant sources only during periods of non-occupancy.
- Increase the number of air exchanges, The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Engineers recommend a minimum of 8.4 air exchanges per 24 hour period.
- Proper and frequent maintenance of HVAC systems
- Installing a UV-C light in the HVAC plenum
- Regular vacuuming with a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner to collect and retain 99.97% of particles down to and including 0.3 micrometres.
Gender differences[change | change source]
There might be a gender difference in reporting rates of sick building syndrome because women tend to report more symptoms than men. Along with this, some studies found that women have a more responsive immune system and are more prone to mucosal dryness and facial erythema. Also, women are alleged by some to be more exposed to indoor environmental factors, because they have a tendency to have more clerical work where they are exposed to unique office equipment and materials (example: blueprint machines), while men may more often have jobs based outside of offices.
Related pages[change | change source]
Notes[change | change source]
- "Sick Building Syndrome". United States Environmental Protection Agency. http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/sbs.html. Retrieved 2009-02-19.
- "Mold and Mildew PDF file". National Institute of Environmental Health Science. http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/mold/docs/mold.pdf. Retrieved 2009-02-19.
- Godish, Thad (2001). Indoor Environmental Quality. New York: CRC Press. pp. 196-197. ISBN 1566704022
- "Sick Building Syndrome." National Safety Council. (2009) Retrieved April 27, 2009. 
- Godish, Thad (2001). Indoor Environmental quality. New York: CRC Press. pp. 196-197. ISBN 1566704022
References[change | change source]
- Martín-Gil J, Yanguas MC, San José JF, Rey-Martínez and Martín-Gil FJ. "Outcomes of research into a sick hospital". Hospital Management International, 1997, pp 80–82. Sterling Publications Limited.
Further reading[change | change source]
- Murphy, Michelle. Sick Building Syndrome and the Problem of Uncertainty: Environmental Politics, Technoscience, and Women Workers (Duke University Press, 2006). ISBN 978-0-8223-3671-6.
- Research Committee Report on Diagnosis and Treatment of Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome Caused by Exposure to the Interior Environment of Water-Damaged Buildings (PDF)