Sick-Building Syndrome refers to poor quality air-flow and ventilation with potentially toxic pollutants within the four walls, causing a range of discomforting health effects on the occupants of the building. Nevertheless, the condition is noticed to be more common in offices and is now being found in schools, libraries, and even independent homes. On average, we spend at least 70-80% of our time indoors, either at the workplace or at home, and buildings with closed windows and mechanical ventilation are at high risk.
Symptoms Of Sick Building-Syndrome
Here’s a quick note of the symptoms one might experience with a sick building syndrome.
- Body aches
- A chronic cough
- Shortness of breath
- Irritation of the throat, nose, skin, and eyes
- Concentration issues
Some studies reveal that women, people who smoke, and those who have allergies are more prone to experience sick-building syndrome. As compared to many other job roles, the sick-building syndrome is notably found in people with blue-collar jobs, where they end up spending a lot of time in office. In 1984, the World Health Organization (WHO) came up with a global estimation that 30% of the world’s new and remodeled buildings are potential contributors to the sick-building syndrome.
5 Alarming Toxins You’re Probably Living With, In Your Offices And Homes
1. Formaldehyde — This is a very harsh toxin that irritates the nose, throat, and eyes. Mostly found in waxed paper, synthetic fibers, plywood, tissues, etc. In severe cases, it can also lead to lung and larynx swelling and complications.
2. Ammonia — causes eye and throat irritation. Usually, present in floor cleaners, floor wax, scented salts, and fertilizers.
3. Xylene — Xylene causes mouth and throat irritation which can also lead to problems of the heart, liver, and kidney. If it goes undiagnosed and untreated it can also lead to severe damage to the liver and kidney, resulting in the person going into a coma. It is mostly found in printed leathers, tobacco smoke, and vehicle emissions.
4. Trichloroethylene — It is found largely in paints, varnishes, inks and paint removers. Trichloroethylene causes headaches, nausea, dizziness.
5. Benzene — Plastics, detergents, furniture wax, vehicle exhaust, gules, rubber lubricants, and pesticides. Benzene is known to cause faint spells, drowsiness, headaches, and eye irritation.
Addressing Sick-Building Syndrome
Although research hasn’t confirmed any specific cause for the sick-building syndrome, many people have been complaining of building-related discomfort and symptoms that cannot be ignored for a fact. There are further claims of the condition being caused due to excess indoor humidity. So check for humidifiers being used, and to avoid using them is all that can be done especially in places that have a humid climate.
While some say it’s a pseudo-diagnosis, many refer to sick-building syndrome to be a combination of biological contaminants and chemicals along with poor air ventilation. So, the first step to addressing sick-building syndrome is to increase ventilation and filtering pollutant sources by cleaning the air. Some researches also state that air-purifying plants also can help.
Building Investigation Procedures
Indoor air quality check.
Information about the history of the building.
Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning zone checks.
Visual inspection of critical areas of the building.
House Plants: An Effective Solution For Sick-Building Syndrome
Although they have no voice, they still speak, and though they don’t have a stethoscope, they can still treat it! It’s not just the medicinal properties that plants come with. Many house plants have air-purifying qualities. In fact, along with the physical impact on the environment, plants can also have a positive psychological impact on people. A recent study performed by Roger Ulrich states that exposure to certain plants can have significant benefits on overall health.
Top 5 Air Purifying House Plants
1. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum) — Removes acetone, benzene, trichloroethylene, formaldehyde. It has a high transpiration rate to humidify and purify indoor air.
2. Boston Fern — Brings down the levels of formaldehyde and xylene, Boston fern is a classic looking house plant with a bright green color that adds to improving the positive vibes.
3. Dracaena — Dracaena is also known as the spider plant or ‘Song Of India’, with a beautiful green and yellow combination, this plant reduces the level of xylene and formaldehyde in the air.
4. Bamboo Palm — Along with the tropical grace that this indoor plant adds, it has a great quality of absorbing formaldehyde in the air. It also reduces xylene in the air.
5. Snake Plant — As interesting the name is, it has equal capacity to absorb trichloroethylene and xylene from the air. To add an interesting twist, this plant is also known as the ‘Mother-in-law’s Tongue’, because if you cut it and put it in the soil it simply grows back, and it grows quite long!
Tidbits To Ease Sick-Building Syndrome
Open the windows and allow free in and outflow of air.
Brief screen breaks while at work and a quick walk outside.
Avoid work stress, or de-stress post office hours.
Keep a close check on the temperature inside if you are used to air conditioners.
Make sure the air conditioning machines are cleaned and serviced from time to time.
Check the cleanliness of the building.
Maintain good posture and breathing patterns.
One of the most obvious ways to ease symptoms of the sick-building syndrome is to stop offending the building. Well, you call it a psychological way to treat or just a pollyannaish approach, you’re bound to be in that building either because it’s your home or the place that wins you bread and butter. It’s better to find a solution within yourself than to sprint after something that’s invisible and in the air!