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Sick building syndrome (SBS): Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About sick building syndrome (SBS)

Sick building syndrome (SBS) is a combination of symptoms associated with an individual's office building or residence due to poor indoor air quality.

Sick building syndrome: Incidence, age and sex

Up to 30 percent of new and remodelled buildings worldwide, may have poor indoor air quality (IAQ). There could be a gender difference in reporting rates of sick building syndrome because women tend to report more symptoms than men.

Signs and symptoms of sick building syndrome: Diagnosis

The occupants may complain of irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, headache, dry cough; dry or itchy skin, dizziness and nausea; difficulty in concentrating; fatigue; and sensitivity to odours and taste sensations. The key to diagnosis is that symptoms will be relieved soon after the occupants leave the particular room or zone.

Cause and prevention of sick building syndrome

The main causes are flaws in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. Other causes are moulds, improper exhaust ventilation, improper acoustics, poor ergonomics and lack of adequate air filtration. Prevention includes removal of all the implicated factors - namely use of paints, adhesives, solvents and pesticides only in well-ventilated areas, replacement of water-stained ceiling tiles and carpeting.

Sick building syndrome: Complications

Complications include high levels of employee sickness or absenteeism, lower productivity, low job satisfaction and high employee turnover.

Sick building syndrome: Treatment

The symptoms will be relieved soon after the occupants leave the particular room or zone. Other methods to reduce incidence of SBS include increasing the number of air exchanges, identifying these pollutant sources during periods of non-occupancy and consequently, regular removal of algae and mould sources.

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