Have you ever found that you get headaches and eye irritation at work, but once you leave for the day, your symptoms clear up? What about other symptoms, like nausea, dizziness, throat or sinus irritation, or fatigue?
Symptoms like these can sometimes be linked to time spent in a specific building – often, an office building where a person works. Usually, no specific illness or cause of the symptoms can be diagnosed. Since the 1980s, this phenomenon has been known as sick building syndrome.
Sick building syndrome affects millions of employees regularly and can affect productivity in a workplace. Preventing sick building syndrome is necessary for running an efficient, healthy office.
What is Sick Building Syndrome?
Sick building syndrome is simply a medical condition where people in a building (often, an office building) suffer from various symptoms of an illness or feel ill for seemingly no reason. These symptoms get worse the more time spent in the building, and then often when the person leaves, they improve drastically or even completely disappear.
These symptoms can include:
- Eye irritation
- Throat irritation
- Sinus irritation
- Skin irritation and dryness
- Wheezing and chest tightness
Sick building syndrome has a variety of potential causes, including inadequate air ventilation, deteriorating fiberglass, chemical contaminants, biological contaminants, traffic, poor lighting, and pollution. These problems could be caused when a building is maintained inconsistently or incorrectly, or from occupant activities.
In most cases, sick building syndrome is related to poor indoor air quality.
Building-related illness is a similar condition to sick building syndrome with one key difference – it can be medically diagnosed and the cause of it can be determined. Building-related illness may have similar symptoms to sick building syndrome, but the symptoms can be directly attributed to an airborne building contaminant. In sick building syndrome, this connection is not present.
Preventing Sick Building Syndrome
Because sick building syndrome is related to indoor air quality, the best way to prevent sick building syndrome is to improve the indoor air quality and maintain the systems that keep office building air clean.
The most effective way to do this is to ensure that your air filtration systems and supplies are well-maintained and replaced regularly. Some solutions for preventing or correcting sick building syndrome are:
- Replace and maintain the HVAC system regularly
- Remove or modify sources of pollutants, like paints, smoke, solvents
- Increase ventilation rates and ensure your building meets ventilation standards
- Use HEPA filters to optimize filtration
- Using ULPA or antimicrobial filters may also be beneficial depending on the office environment and pollutants
- Regular cleaning with vacuums, sweepers, scrubbers, and other commercial cleaning equipment with HEPA filters
- Communication about poor air quality with decision makers
Taking these measures in an office building can help prevent or reduce the effects of sick building syndrome. It’s important to reduce or eliminate irritating airborne particles that can cause symptoms in employees. Using the right air filtration and cleaning processes can help to reduce sick building syndrome.
The Importance of Indoor Air Quality
Indoor air quality is an area of concern for many commercial and industrial buildings. Indoor air quality is affected both by internal and external factors and can have a huge impact on employee health both short term and long term.
While many employees suffering from sick building syndrome begin to feel better as soon as they leave the building, experiencing this day after day can lead to long term health consequences. Particularly with building-related illnesses, the particles causing the symptoms may be toxic over a long period if not discovered and corrected.
Maintaining high indoor air quality is essential for employee health and safety in any type of building. With so many air filtration options and processes available, it’s easy to take steps to prevent sick building syndrome and building-related illnesses.
Upgrade Your Commercial Air Filters Today!
If employees or managers in your workplace are often complaining of various symptoms while at work, it may be time to re-evaluate your air filtration and indoor air quality.
APC Filtration supplies and manufactures high quality air filters, including HEPA and ULPA, for a variety of commercial and industrial purposes. We can help you find a solution for your indoor air quality at your work building.
Contact us today for more information about our custom air filters for offices and other commercial buildings!