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Sick Building Syndrome

Posted in Blog | Indoor Air Quality on November 7th, 2020 by Hunter Adams

Sick building syndrome

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. They 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 is 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.

Sick building syndrome isn’t as familiar to most people as a cold or the flu, but it can cause many of the same symptoms. The problem with sick building syndrome is that it won’t go away on its own, at least not until the problems in the building are resolved. Learn more about this health concern and how it may be impacting you.

What is Sick Building Syndrome?

Sick building syndrome, also called building-related illness, is a sickness caused by exposure to chemical and/or physical agents within a building. You might experience symptoms at work or at home. Those in older buildings often notice more symptoms, especially if the building contains asbestos, lead, or other dangerous chemicals. Mold growth can also cause the symptoms of sick building syndrome, so you might feel worse in a building following a flood or leak.

Worsening Breathing  Conditions

sick building syndrome

If you currently suffer from asthma, COPD, or other breathing conditions, sick building syndrome can make these ailments worse. The presence of certain contaminants, such as mold, mildew, cigarette smoke, chemical gasses, and even some types of plants, can all affect the indoor air quality.

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. Some people are more sensitive to these types of contaminants in the air, while others might live or work in the same structure without experiencing symptoms.

How to avoid it

commercial air quality testing is important for detecting dangerous levels of radon in your business

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. At MD Mold Testing, we offer testing and inspection services for mold, asbestos, soil, radon, water, and lead, ensuring that your building is safe and healthy for use.