Sick building syndrome is a term used to describe office buildings and manufacturing facilities that experience health effects linked to the indoor air quality of the building. It’s a difficult situation for facility managers and business owners looking to keep their teams safe, healthy, and productive.
Sick Building Syndrome Symptoms
One of the key elements of SBS is that the symptoms appear to be linked directly to spending time in the building. Many cases describe a lessening or disappearance of all symptoms after spending the weekend at home or working remotely, only to return after returning to the affected facility.
While these symptoms can vary case-by-case, the most common sick building symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Heart Palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Scratchy throat
- Irritated eyes and nose
- Increase of allergy symptoms
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss or changes to sense of smell
What Are the Causes of Sick Building Syndrome?
Indoor Causes of SBS
Sources of indoor air pollution contribute to SBS, with the most common being volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. These are typically building materials or elements of décor such as furniture upholstery, carpeting, manufactured wood furniture, cleaning chemicals, and combustible byproducts caused by heating elements. Poor ventilation can make these compounds more concentrated. Major causes of indoor air pollution like inadequately stored chemicals or combustive smoke should be addressed immediately.
Outdoor Causes of SBS
Outdoor sources of pollution can affect indoor air quality. From motor exhaust produced in attached garages or underground parking units to smoke from wildfires or other contaminants, outdoor air pollution can enter buildings through windows or ventilation and become concentrated over time in buildings with poor ventilation.
How to Test for Sick Building Syndrome
It can be difficult to identify specific causes of airborne irritants if your facility is already addressing indoor air quality. Working with an HVAC professional can help to narrow down potential causes of indoor pollution and eliminate these sources.
The best ways to address and prevent sick building symptom involves addressing all possible sources and improving the efficiency of your HVAC system. Some of the steps required include:
- Improve building ventilation and airflow, especially in areas near combustive elements or with many employees working in a single area
- Reduce dust levels with improved air filtration systems
- Implementing additional carbon monoxide monitors
- Improving the storage of cleaning chemicals and other potential pollutants
- Recording symptoms and surveying staff over periods of time to monitor symptoms
- Implementing needlepoint bipolar ionization to eliminate airborne viruses and irritants
Take Action Against Sick Building Syndrome
Offering a clean, safe, and inspiring working environment is a vital part of protecting your team, improving employee retention rates, and helping with your ongoing recruiting efforts. Bring the team back to the office safely. Contact Keen Technical Solutions today to learn more.