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Sick Building Syndrome


The sick building syndrome (SBS) is used to describe a situation in which the occupants of a building experience acute health- or comfort-related effects that seem to be linked directly to the time spent in the building. No specific illness or cause can be identified. The moment the person leaves the building, the symptoms gradually disappear until the person re-enters the building.

Very often, the symptoms build to more serious conditions, because there is constant, continuous exposure to the various conditions that causes the sickness. It may be a workplace or even the home, but one may not necessarily be able to identify it without being alert enough to realise the causes of the conditions around you.

The more common causes of Sick Building Syndrome include:

- inadequate ventilation

- chemical contamination from indoor sources

- chemical contamination from outdoor sources

- biological contaminants.

To be more specific, we may classify these symptoms further into the following:

- Chemicals released from modern building and furnishing materials

- Combustion gases from fireplaces and woodburning stoves

- Chemical fumes from paints and solvents

- Gases including radon seeping through foundation

- Outdoor air pollutants

- Molds and bacteria

- Chemicals from cleaning products

- Cigarette smoke with over 4,000 chemicals

- Animal hair and dander

- Carbon monoxide fumes from attached garage

The indicators of sick-building syndrome include:

- General physical discomfort, headache, eye, nose or throat irritation, dry cough, dry or itchy skin, dizziness and nausea, difficulty to concentrate, fatigue, chest tightness, fever, chills, muscle aches and reactions to odour.

- After leaving the building, the symptoms above will be relieved. If such illnesses are caused by prolonged exposure requires a long recovery period, even after leaving the building.

- Discomforts may also result from other causes, and includes illnesses contracted from outside the building, high allergies level, job stress, dissatisfied work environment and other psychosocial factors.

- All the symptoms can be medically defined and the causes identified for therapy or cure.

- There is also studies that show all the above symptoms may be cause or aggravated by the indoor air quality problem that percolates in the human system.