In an average day, an individual will wake up, go to work for about 8 hours, and travel back home for the rest of the day until the cycle continues the next morning. During this period of time, we can assume that for those who work in an office setting or within an indoor environment during their 8-hour work day are constantly located within a controlled indoor environment throughout the day. According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), the normal American spends close to 90 percent of their time indoors, rather than outdoors as this increasing trend has several factors that contribute to this escalation in time spent indoors. However, the more time that is spent inside within a climate-controlled environment, the more at risk an individual is to exposure to poor air quality and pollutants within the air – which can lead to an abundance of potential health issues overtime.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has conducted thorough research on the effects of indoor air quality on the health of individuals, and the levels of pollutants that are commonly found within these indoor environments. They found that indoor air quality pollutant level is typically two to five times greater indoors than in outdoor environments – which can be alarming for Americans who spend most of their day within the confines of an indoor environment.

In this article we are going to discuss a scary indoor air quality health condition called Sick Building Syndrome and learn more about the causes behind these Building Related Illnesses that an individual can suffer from due to exposure to polluted indoor environments like a home or office building.

What is Sick Building Syndrome Definition

What Is Sick Building Syndrome DefinitionHave you ever been inside of your home, office, or any building where you are suddenly and unknowingly stricken with a bout of health effects that take over your body? The symptoms can strike immediately with the smallest bit of exposure to the indoor environment, and this can be alarming to those experiencing these health issues only within certain indoor spaces like a home or office. This sudden health condition is called Sick Building Syndrome (SBS), a term that describes situations where building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that are linked to time spent in a certain building – but no specific illness or cause is easily identified during this time.

Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) is typically identified in a specific area of a building such as a room or floor that elicits these health symptoms when in the presence of these localized areas of concern. The issues and concerns related to sick building syndrome were identified in 1984 by the World Health Organization Committee (WHO), in reports that they conducted they found that up to 30 percent of new and remodeled buildings within the world can be the cause of excessive complaints related to indoor air quality issues and health effects. Typically, SBS is identified as a temporary condition, but in some cases, buildings can have long-term problems that will need remediation to fix this ongoing issue.

Sick Building Syndrome Causes

This somewhat uncommon health condition that is experienced inside of indoor houses and buildings can be caused by a number of different factors present within these enclosed spaces. Sick Building Syndrome is not the only health syndrome that can plague an individual inside of an indoor environment, a term labeled Building Related Illness (BRI) is another condition that can form in the presence of a toxic environment. Building Related Illness is when symptoms of identifiable and diagnosable illnesses are found and can be directly attributed to airborne contaminants found within a building.

Upon the onset of building occupant complaints of health issues and symptoms when inside of an office or home environment, this will be cause enough to investigate the reasoning behind this building condition. The causes behind sick building syndrome includes the following:

Improper Ventilation

Improper VentilationBuildings and other enclosed indoor environments have dealt with the issue of improper ventilation within this space – which can lead to an amalgam of issues for both the space and the air quality of this area. Today, the construction of buildings and homes have been done so tightly, with little ventilation implemented inside of these areas, and this is the problem with today’s buildings.

Before the adoption of these tightly configured, improperly ventilated buildings, the construction of buildings in the early and mid 1900’s called for stricter ventilation standards – that enforced the need for approximately 15 cubic feet per minute (cfm) of outside air for each building occupant. The overall reduction of ventilation within an enclosed space will lead to a buildup of contaminants in the environment, traveling throughout the air and leading to building-related illnesses in those exposed to this tainted environment.

Biological Contaminants in the Indoor Air

The accumulation of different contaminants and pollutants found within an indoor space like a building can range from chemical to biological contaminants that will travel rapidly throughout the environment, tainting the indoor air quality. When it comes to the pollutants present within the environment that can impact sick building syndrome, biological contaminants like bacteria, mold, pollen, and viruses can play an integral role in the building-related illnesses that are on the rise in this building. Mold, in particular, can unknowingly develop and grow inside of an environment with ideal conditions and this formation of mold can rapidly increase sick building syndrome mold issues for those in the vicinity where the mold is located in the building.

Other biological contaminants lurking inside of an indoor environment that can impact sick building syndrome can include insects and bird droppings that will elicit physical symptoms in the body during exposure to these contaminants.

Chemical Pollutants

Chemical PollutantsA plethora of pollutants found inside of an indoor environment are generally produced from sources that are present within the space including adhesives, carpeting, upholstery, wood products, pesticides, and even cleaning agents used throughout the area. Chemical pollutants such as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are among the most commonly present pollutants within indoor environments, as they are emitted from various items used and within the indoor space. When these VOCs are found inside of a building or other enclosed environment, it has been linked to the development of chronic to acute health effects in those individuals exposed to the chemical pollutant.

Outdoor air that enters into an indoor environment can also harbor certain chemical pollutants within the air that will become intermixed with the indoor air to cause issues within the building. The major sources of outdoor contaminants usually occur from vehicle exhausts, plumbing vents, and even building exhausts.

Sick Building Syndrome Symptoms

Sick building syndrome, like any other condition or illness, will trigger and elicit an array of health symptoms that will develop within those individuals that are exposed to an indoor environment compromised by a mix of airborne contaminants. The effects of SBS can be broad, impacting skin, respiratory, and even neurological systems either acutely or severely, depending on exposure length and the number of contaminants in the environment.

The symptoms that someone may experience from sick building syndrome will include the following:

  • Throat irritation
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Allergy-like symptoms
  • Runny nose
  • Tightness in chest
  • Forgetfulness
  • Body aches
  • Nausea
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Fever
  • And chills

Types of SBS and Building Related Illness

Generally, when we think about sick building syndrome our minds typically go to big buildings that are impacted by these conditions due to architectural flaws when designing the large building. However, the reality is that sick building syndrome can occur in almost any indoor environment, whether it be a home, a small office, or even a large office like we tend to imagine in correlation with this condition.

Below we are going to discuss the different types of sick building syndrome and what causes these specific building related illnesses in individuals.

Sick Office Syndrome

Sick Office SyndromeDoes your workplace take proactive steps to provide the environment with a clean air space that has solutions in place to combat contaminants in the air that can make workers sick? The average workplace in America can be a breeding ground for a mix of different contaminants from mold, dust, odors, bacteria, and even airborne viruses that will spread and breed in the air making conditions in this indoor space compromised for public health and safety. Sick Office Syndrome is the result of this poor indoor air quality within an office that can lead to adverse reactions from workers when in the workplace.

Sick Office Syndrome is when workers in an office building experience illnesses and symptoms in the presence of the workplace environment and upon exiting this building their health is restored back to normal, with no health issues. This is a major issue for companies as it will leave their employees with compromised health, which in turn will lead to less productivity among workers. A study conducted by Harvard School of Public Health found that preventable absences due to poor indoor air quality inside of an office building has cost companies an average of $480 per worker per year in lost productivity. This study, along with the increasing worry of sick office syndrome, has led to action being taken by companies in an effort to improve indoor air quality within their office(s).

Sick Home Syndrome

Have you recently started to feel less like yourself when inside of your home? Tired, irritable, and fatigued, the slow motion of life ticks on inside of your home with little to no explanation to why this overwhelming feeling has washed over you when in the environment. A home can adapt an “unbreathable” condition where pollutants have accumulated in the space that have caused a significant increase in poor indoor air quality inside the enclosed space. When a home is plagued with improper ventilation and a buildup of contaminants in the air that cannot escape the confines of the home, this will turn the home into a health hazard for those occupants of the home who can develop sick home syndrome.

Prevention of Sick Building Syndrome

Prevention of sick building syndrome is something that is easily accomplishable after the initial identification of SBS is recognized within an indoor environment. However, the identification process is something that takes time and may not be identified at the first initial symptoms. Sometimes it will take weeks or even months to properly identify SBS as the cause of your mysterious health symptoms when inside your office or home.

Once you have correlated your indoor health symptoms with that of sick building syndrome, it will be necessary to implement preventative measures to help eliminate the causes of SBS within your personal indoor environment. The major methods to implement inside an indoor environment includes the following preventive steps for sick building syndrome elimination.

  • Find and Remove Contaminants: Finding and eliminating the sources of pollutants released into an indoor environment is important to reducing and/or eliminating the possibility of sick building syndrome in an enclosed environment. Once you have located the source of the contaminants, such as cleaning agents, floors, or other furnishings in the indoor space, it will be easy to remove these trouble areas in the environment to improve the indoor air quality.
  • Increase Ventilation: One of the biggest issues that need to be corrected and properly working inside of an enclosed indoor environment to minimize sick building syndrome is the need for increased ventilation throughout the space. Proper ventilation inside of an indoor environment will aid in the removal of pollutants from the air and help to improve the overall indoor air quality within the enclosed area of a building.
  • Educate Employees: The more that we know about Sick Building Syndrome, the easier it will be to prevent inadequate conditions in your personal indoor environments and help you to identify potential symptoms of SBS. For employees, having a general understanding of sick building syndrome can help them keep their employers to a certain standard when it comes to indoor air quality and proper maintenance of the indoor space.
  • Indoor Air Purifiers: Air flow and adequate filtration of the air is necessary inside of an indoor environment to maintain and improve the indoor air quality in this space. SBS is present in an environment where there are high levels of contaminants and pollutants traveling throughout this enclosed area, and therefore air purification can be essential for the prevention of sick building syndrome. The EnviroKlenz UV Air Purifier is an effective air purifier that combines Advanced EnviroKlenz technology for toxic and noxious chemical and odor removal with HEPA filtration and ultraviolet germicidal radiation (UVC) to remove airborne particulates and allergens – while inhibiting the growth of capture microorganisms.
WordPress Video Lightbox Plugin