What is sick building syndrome?

Published on 5 February, 2021

IoT connectivity, Smart Environment,

What is sick building syndrome? The term knowns as “sick building syndrome” (SBS) is the name given to a condition in which building occupants experience comfort and health effects that appear to be linked to time spent indoors, but no specific illness or cause can be diagnosed.

History of sick building syndrome

The term SBS has been around since the oil crisis in the 70s. Builders and building owners took steps to reduce energy loss in office buildings by using insulation material. Also, it was common the use of poor lighting and chemicals in carpets and paints. If you add to that equipment such as copiers and computers, mold o mildew the result is a low ventilation ratio and poor indoor air quality.

Sick building syndrome signs

The most commonly reported SBS symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Runny nose
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Nausea
  • Skin irritation
  • Mental fatigue
  • Difficulties in concentrating
  • Eyes, nose and throat irritation
  • Chest tightness
  • Fatigue
  • Fever

SBS can affect people differently. The thing is if you feel these symptoms you can mistakenly associate them with a cold or flu. Also, in case you have a respiratory illness like asthma or allergies, the symptoms can be aggravated.

What causes sick building syndrome?

The combination of the following factors can contribute to sick building syndrome:

Poor ventilation

Low ventilation rates are inadequate to keep the comfort and health of building occupants.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCS)

Include a variety of chemical contaminants that come from building materials and furnishings, copy machines, pesticides, cleaning products, aerosol sprays, craft materials, cleansers and disinfectants, paints and solvents.

Biological pollutants

Biological pollutants include viruses, bacteria, mold and pollen originate from plants. If you control the relative humidity level in a building, the growth of some biological sources can be minimized.

Carbon monoxide

Vehicles, gas stoves, generators and poorly maintained ventilation equipment are the most common CO sources indoors. Even at low concentrations, CO can cause fatigue in healthy people and chest pain in people with heart disease.

Particulate matter

PM10 and PM2.5 are inhalable and in some cases can cause serious health effects in the lungs and heart. Most particulate matter found indoors include outdoors particles that migrate indoors. These depend on several factors like filtration systems, ventilation rates or personal activities of building occupants.

Carbon dioxide

Carbon dioxide can produce a variety of health effects. CO2 is a colorless and odorless gas. The most main indoor source of carbon dioxide in most buildings are humans due to the CO2 exhaled by building occupants.

Ways to prevent sick building syndrome

Installing an IoT device for monitoring IAQ

IoT devices make possible real-time monitoring of environmental conditions at buildings. Nanoenvi IAQ is a powerful device that monitors CO, CO2, VOCS, PM2.5, PM10 and environmental variables like temperature, pressure and humidity. Nanoenvi IAQ can teach building occupants how to adopt new habits to create healthier air quality in workspaces.

Performing regular HVAC maintenance

HVAC maintenance can improve indoor air quality. HVAC systems need regular maintenance, including changing filters. Do you know filters have MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating that indicates the size of particles they can trap?

Opening windows to improve air exchange rates

Provide natural ventilation and a greater flow of fresh outdoor air have the greatest effect on building occupants.

Indoor air quality can have a profound effect on the health, comfort and productivity of building occupants. To safeguard their health there are innovative solutions like Nanoenvi IAQ you can use to prevent sick building syndrome on workspaces.

What is sick building syndrome?

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