Sick Building Syndrome

Possible Building Health Risks in Edmonton

What is Sick Building Syndrome (SBS)?

Sick building syndrome (SBS) is a combination of ailments (a syndrome) associated with an individual’s place of work (office building) or residence. A 1984 World Health Organization report into the syndrome suggested up to 30% of new and remodeled buildings worldwide may be linked to symptoms of SBS. Most of the sick building syndrome is related to poor indoor air quality.

Sick building causes are frequently pinned down to flaws in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Other causes have been attributed to contaminants produced by outgassing of some types of building materials, volatile organic compounds (VOC), molds (see mold health issues), improper exhaust ventilation of ozone (by-product of some office machinery), light industrial chemicals, or lack of adequate fresh-air intake/air filtration (see Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value).

The term “sick building syndrome” (SBS) is used to describe situations in which building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building. The complaints may be localized in a particular room or zone, or may be widespread throughout the building. In contrast, the term “building related illness” (BRI) is used when symptoms of diagnosable illness are identified and can be attributed directly to airborne building contaminants.

Indicators of SBS include:

  • Building occupants complain of symptoms associated with acute discomfort, e.g., headache; eye, nose, or throat irritation; dry cough; dry or itchy skin; dizziness and nausea; difficulty in concentrating; fatigue; and sensitivity to odors
  • The cause of the symptoms is not known
  • Most of the complainants report relief soon after leaving the building

Indicators of BRI include:

  • Building occupants complain of symptoms such as cough, chest tightness, fever, chills, and muscle aches
  • The symptoms can be clinically defined and have clearly identifiable causes
  • Complainants may require prolonged recovery times after leaving the building

It is important to note that complaints may result from other causes. These may include an illness contracted outside the building, acute sensitivity (e.g. allergies), job related stress or dissatisfaction, and other psychosocial factors. Nevertheless, studies show that symptoms may be caused or exacerbated by indoor air quality problems.

If you think your home, office, or warehouse may be experiencing SBS, contact Titans Furnace & Duct Cleaning for an evaluation from an experienced professional.

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