Sick building syndrome, or tight building syndrome, is the term used when residents or workers in a building suffer health or discomfort issues that seem to be linked to their time spent in the building but without an identifiable direct cause. The common factor is that time away from the building improves the symptoms, and returning to it aggravates or causes their return. Since many Americans spend up to 90% of their workday in enclosed environments, this concern is worth examining by all building owners.
What Are the Symptoms of Sick Building Syndrome?
Symptoms associated with SBS are wide-ranging and hard to identify since they tend to mirror those of other common ailments. It can often be confused with ongoing allergies or an incipient cold, among other day-to-day irritations.
The most frequently encountered symptoms affect the skin, respiratory, and neurological systems. These include but are not limited to the following:
- Irritation of the eyes, nose, or throat.
- Body aches.
- Dry cough.
- Inability to focus or concentrate.
What Causes Building-Related Illness?
Recent studies by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have determined that Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is probably a contributing factor tied to the rate of dissipation/release of airborne contaminants from the building in question. Poor ventilation, ozone created by office machinery like printers, mold, asbestos or pesticides, carbon monoxide, and more can all build up in the air, contributing to SBS.
In addition, airborne particulates are directly responsible for the respiratory ailment known as Monday fever, which few people realize is the same disease known in other quarters as mill fever or brown lung. Byssinosis, to use its scientific name, usually presents itself as a set of asthma-like symptoms that are especially bad on Monday when workers return after a weekend away from the workspace. It is caused by dust clogging the bronchial tubes of the lungs.
Many of these issues and the symptoms they lead to can be reduced with proper HVAC maintenance. Improving IAQ by ensuring filters are cleaned regularly and ensuring interior humidity is within acceptable parameters, and similar measures are excellent starting points for making sure your building’s occupants breathe easily.
Contact Henick-Lane for an IAQ Assessment
For more than 50 years, Henick-Lane has delivered expert commercial HVAC services and IAQ solutions to the New York City area. Call today at (718) 786-7277 or contact us online and schedule an indoor air quality assessment.