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An Insight to sick building syndrome

Sick building syndrome is described as a situation in which occupants of the building experience a wide range of health problems that seem to be associated with the building and the time spent in that building, but no specific cause can be ruled out. These acute health effects may get lessen or disappear when outside the building.

Symptoms of Sick building syndrome:

Building occupants may complain of the following acute symptoms associated

  • Headaches
  • Dryness and irritation of throat
  • Nasal irritation
  • Skin irritation
  • Nausea
  • Eye irritation and burning
  • Sensitivity to odors
  • Dry cough
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of concentration

Causes of sick building syndrome

1. Poor indoor air quality and inadequate ventilation

Inadequate outdoor air ventilation rate can result in the problems related to the health, and comfort of building occupants, which can occur if heating, and air conditioning systems are not effective enough to distribute air to the people in the building making it the major factor in Sick building syndrome.

2. Chemical contaminants

Most air pollution comes from sources which are present inside the building like adhesives, carpeting, manufactured wood products, pesticides, and cleaning agents etc. These sources may emit volatile organic compounds which can lead to health problems ranging from acute to chronic ones depending on the concentration of the volatile organic compounds present in that particular area.

It is not only indoor air but outdoor air entering the building which can be the source of indoor air pollution. For example, a pollutant from building exhausts, motor vehicle exhausts etc. which can enter the building through the leaks present in the windows, and other openings.

  1. Biological contaminants

The contaminants, such as, Bacteria, pollen, mold etc. are the biological contaminants, which may breed in stagnant water, and stale air that has accumulated in ducts, humidifiers and water collected areas, like, ceiling tiles, carpeting etc. Insects and bird droppings can also be the source which can lead to symptoms like cough, fever, chills, lethargy, muscle aches, and other allergic responses.

Given below are solutions for sick building syndrome.

  • Removal of the source of the Pollutant

It is an effective approach to resolve the problems related to sick building syndrome when sources are known, and this way control is feasible. Solution includes proper maintenance of heating and cooling systems like periodic cleaning of filters, solution of water-stained ceilings and carpeting; storage of paints, solvents, and pesticides in well ventilated areas, and in case of new building it becomes essential to devote adequate time to the pollutants to go off in new before occupancy. Always try to fix the leaks in windows, doors etc, which are responsible, for the entrance of the outdoor air pollutants.

  • Air cleaning and adequate ventilation

Proper maintenance of the central heating and cooling systems plays an important role in reducing sick building syndrome, but local ventilation is also recommended removing pollutants from the specific areas like rest rooms, kitchens, bathrooms etc. It is recommended to use heating and air conditioning systems which are designed to meet the ventilation standards of local building codes. Polluted particles and gaseous elements can be removed from the air with the help of an air filtration device which can be cost effective & convenient solution for the sick building syndrome.

Awareness about sick building syndrome is essential to make people understand its consequences and solutions. When building occupants will feel its importance, only then they can take the precautions more effectively to prevent the occurrence of the problems.


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