With more and more people working and spending a lot of time indoors, the number of the occurrences of “sick building syndrome” is getting higher year after year. But, no matter if you’ve already heard about this condition with a catchy name or if this is your first contact with it, this little guide with certainly help you understand it better.
What is Sick building syndrome?
Sick building syndrome, also known as environmental illness, building-related illness or SBS, is an illness that some experts consider is caused by exposure to unidentified chemicals or agents found in buildings. The term was coined some 30 years ago and has sparked many controversies over the years, even though it’s becoming more and more accepted. Here’s everything you need to know about this mysterious syndrome.
Why the controversy?
Although many people and experts insist this syndrome is a real disease related to certain environments or buildings, many other clinicians aren’t convinced. There’s still no ample clinical evidence that such a syndrome actually exists. Many people who come to the doctor have multiple nonspecific symptoms they believe occur from sources inside the building, but this can’t be scientifically proven. Without clearly defined symptoms and source or cause, no tests available to make a diagnosis and no specific way of treatment, there is no medical syndrome.
Why buildings get sick?
If a building isn’t well sealed, exterior pollutants such as exhaust and plumbing fumes can all enter the building through the cracks and intake vents. Inside, on the other hand, volatile organic compounds found in carpets, wall paint, air fresheners, cleaning supplies and adhesives are circulating the building’s interior.
What can we do to cure sick buildings?
Every building and every room in that building has a specific purpose and requirements. Those requirements greatly depend on the building’s or room’s size, operating times and comfort needs. So, in order to create these specific characteristics of the space, you need to consider the temperature, humidity, ventilation and CO2 levels. For instance, a small conference room that holds 20 people and has no ventilation will be oversaturated with CO2. A server room will very quickly get very hot without any cooling system. What companies and building constructors can do is predict the problem and equip buildings with systems that will respond appropriately and effectively to any changes in the controlled environment. Also, while experts still don’t know if asbestos and lead have any part in SBS, they should certainly be handled with extreme caution. If any trace of these hazardous elements is noticed, make sure to call trained professionals in asbestos removal in Brisbane or any other city.
What are the symptoms?
The usual symptoms people come to the doctor are frequent headaches, dizziness, nausea and skin, nose, eyes and throat irritation, even though they vary from person to person. One thing about SBS that bothers scientists is that people who share the same living or workspace don’t experience the same symptoms. This is a big problem because it makes diagnosing very hard and many people end up left undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
What are the long-term effects of SBS?
Long-term effects can cause an increase in the intensity or range of symptoms, lowered job productivity or job loss, necessity to move jobs or home and many expensive and bothersome medical tests to achieve the diagnosis. Building owners might also spend a lot of money on expensive building testing.
What is the treatment for SBS?
There is no actual treatment for this disease, but some doctors notice the reduction of nonspecific symptoms in their patients when they prescribe antidepressants or anxiety medication. Sleeping pills also help relieve the symptoms. Medication for nausea or headaches usually provides the relief of individual symptoms. Additionally, strictly following building codes and other practices prescribed by Environmental Protection Agency.
So, the best thing people can do is build and work according to health codes and pay more attention to symptoms. If you’re sure you have SBS, visit the doctor as soon as you can for early diagnosis.