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What Is Sick Building Syndrome?

Posted in Blog on November 18th, 2013 by Hunter Adams

As every writer knows, personification is when we attribute human characteristics to things that are not human. In recent years, builders have used this literary device to describe structures that may physically harm anyone who enters them. The say that these buildings suffer from Sick Building Syndrome, which is when poor indoor air quality adversely affects an occupant’s health.  How can a building be sick?

Once again, the term is a textbook example of personification. Of course, the building in not actually sick, since buildings can’t feel anything–at least not as far as we know! But because they are poorly ventilated and/or contain chemical and biological contaminants, these structures pose serious health risks to all who live or work in them.

Common symptoms

The longer you stay in a building that suffers from this fairly common disorder, the more likely you are to suffer from either short or long-term health problems.  Common symptoms from prolonged exposure include the following:

  • nauseau
  • dizziness
  • coughing
  • headaches
  •  irritation of the eyes, neck, or throat
  • trouble concentrating
  • fatigue
  • dry and itchy skin

Because these symptoms are fairly familiar and are often associated with seasonal allergies, most folks ignore them until it’s too late.

How to avoid it

Regardless of their age, all buildings should be tested by professionals if sick building syndrome is suspected.  The procedure is fairly simple and straightforward.  A professional HVAC technician will generally test the air quality to determine if it is safe for human occupation. If it is not, the problem is most likely poor ventilation that is trapping pollutants and contaminants inside.