Symptoms of sick building syndrome (SBS) are complex. The syndrome is associated with indoor environment either at one’s place of work or residence. The sick building syndrome has been found to occur in about 30 % of new and remodeled buildings. Poor indoor air quality is the main contributor to the symptoms of sick building syndrome.
Often, the cause of sick building syndrome is difficult to identify though the occupant of a building will complain of acute health effects that seem to be related to the time they spend in the building. The problem may be restricted to one specific area or room, or could be prevalent throughout the whole building. It has been observed that symptoms of sick building syndrome usually occur when the building is maintained in a way that is not consistent with its original design or approved operating procedures, or when resident activities generate a problem.
Causes of Sick Building Syndrome
The actual cause of SBS is not known. However, the following are believed to play a role in development of sick building syndrome.
- Malfunctioning heating, ventilation and and air conditioning system.
- Toxins from off-gassing building materials and volatile organic materials.
- Poor ventilation
- Toxins and noxious wastes from outside sources such as: vehicle fumes and exhausts, plumbing vents, and inside sources such as: carpeting, upholstery, cleaning agents and pesticides.
- Biological contaminants such bacteria, pollen, viruses and molds.
Symptoms of Sick Building Syndrome
People suffering from sick building syndrome often complain of the following symptoms:
- irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat
- dry or itchy skin, skin sensitivity
- dry, irritating cough
- overtiredness and lethargy
- sensitivity to odors
Most of the times, the symptoms of sick building syndrome disappear once the affected person leaves the building. Then again, in sensitive individuals, the symptoms may be persistent and the pollutant could leave permanent effects.