Flu season is on us and you’re well aware that you’re at risk of getting sick if you fail to get a flu shot. Bud did you know that a building can get sick as well. In fact a sick building is a health hazard for building occupants and can be a financial disaster for building owners.
What is sick building syndrome?
The controversial term “sick building” was first used in 1986 and refers to building-related illness considered to an illness after someone has been exposed to as yet undefined chemical, biological, or physical agents that are thought to be found in buildings. A more popular term is BRI or building-related-illness.
What are some symptoms of sick building syndrome?
- throat irritation.
- breathing difficulties.
- tightness in the chest.
- runny nose.
- allergy-like symptoms, such as sneezing.
- burning sensations in the nose.
- dry, itchy skin rashes.
Causes of Sick Building Syndrome
There are many theories on what causes sick building syndrome. Commonly cited causes are inadequate ventilation, chemical contaminants from indoor sources, and chemical contaminants from outdoor sources.
Inadequate ventilation is one of the most often cited reasons. Prior to the energy crisis in the 1970s, most buildings were not sealed up as tightly and circulated air more frequently. After the energy crisis, buildings were made more energy efficient by sealing up areas where air leaked into or out of the building. Additionally, airflow was decreased in many buildings from 15 cubic feet per minute to 5 cubic feet per minute.
Common chemical contaminants inside the building are found in paint, adhesives, carpeting, cleaning agents, and upholstered furniture. These chemicals can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Common chemical contaminants from outside of the building can include exhaust from motor vehicles and other industrial plants in the area.
Treating your building for Sick Building Syndrome
Here is a list of things you can do to help ensure your building is safe:
- Make sure there are no hazards in the building like mold or bacteria.
- Make sure the air handling system is clean and functioning well.
- Consider replacing air filters.
- Have the HVAC system ventilation rates checked.
- Make sure chemicals are stored in appropriately ventilated areas.
Here at IMC we’re NADCA certified and always available to speak with you about a solution, just give us a call.