Is the Air Quality in Your Workplace Making You Sick?

You’re feeling unwell, but can’t really understand what exactly is the illness. There are no specific symptoms – just an unexplained fatigue, decreased concentration and lack of energy. Well, now you have a name for that – The Sick Building Syndrome. And it is related to the air quality in your workplace.


Air Quality

People affected by this syndrome often complain about various nonspecific symptoms. This feeling of ill health gives rise to absenteeism and causes a decrease in productivity of the employees. Not only is it pertaining to only office buildings, it can also occur in residential apartments as well.

The sick building syndrome (SBS) is used to describe a situation in which the occupants of a building experience acute health- or comfort-related effects that seem to be linked directly to the time spent in the building.

Signs and symptoms of the Syndrome

There are a plethora of symptoms associated with this syndrome , which should not be seen in isolation, but rather after a thorough check up to rule out anyt other ailment :

  • Headache – with varying degrees of dizziness, nausea, eye, sensitivity to odours, fatigue
  • Nose or throat irritation, dry cough
  • Increased asthma attacks – or shortness of breath over mild exertion
  • Itching skin
  • There’s one more cause for concern – pneumonia-like Legionnaire’s disease – which is caused due to contamination of cooling towers by legionella organisms, which is a dangerous bacteria.
  • Humidifier fever – caused by breathing in water droplets from humidifiers heavily contaminated with microorganisms causing respiratory infections- is noninfective in nature. The patient may have flu-like symptoms.

These symptoms are essentially related to the air quality inside the building. The complainants may require prolonged recovery time after leaving the building.

The following are some of the factors affecting Air Quality, and responsible for SBS :

  • Chemical contaminants
    • Outdoor sources : Contaminants from outside like pollutants from motor vehicle exhaust, plumbing vents and building exhausts (bathrooms and kitchens) effect the air quality inside the building.
    • Indoor sources: The most common contaminant of indoor air includes the volatile organic compounds (VOC) whose main sources are adhesives, upholstery, carpeting, copy machines, manufactured wood products, pesticides, cleaning agents, etc.
  • Biological contaminants
    • Pollen, bacteria, viruses, fungus, molds, etc
  • Inadequate ventilation
    • Improper heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems (HVAC systems)
  • Electromagnetic radiation
    • Appliances like microwaves, televisions and computers emit electromagnetic radiation, which ionizes the air, effecting indoor air quality.
  • Inappropriate lighting and poor ergonomics
    • People involved in clerical jobs often have poor working conditions – like improper ergonomics and lightning conditions.

Is your workplace healthy? Have you tested the Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) in your building? This World Environment Day 2016, make sure your workplace or residence has a healthy Indoor air Quality!

If you wish to get your office building tested for Ambient Air and Indoor Air Quality , visit Equinox Labs Website!

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