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Preventing Sick Building Syndrome


Buildings can get sick. If a building is not clean routinely, it can be a cesspool for illnesses. Typically we associate a messy building by dirty bathrooms and smelly lobbies, however the air quality inside the building can cause the most reoccurring illnesses. Breathing polluted in-door effects 80% of all urban areas globally.


“Over 5.5 to 7 million people die worldwide from air pollution. The World Health Organization estimates that air pollution shaves one year off the lifespan of Europeans,” (Techsling.com - Sick Building Syndrome, What it is, and do I have it).

Air pollution is not just car emissions, methane gases and smoking, but something much more benign - poor office air.


At the office several people help contribute to dust, dirt, and debris. Poor office air quality can lead to a phenomenon called, Sick Building Syndrome, which affects employees anytime they are inside. (Symptom of Sick Building Syndrome are headaches, respiratory problems, coughing or fevers while on the job). Unfortunately due to air-tight energy efficient buildings with more controlled ventilation becomes a hotspot for sick building syndrome.


“Without the right ventilation, dangerous chemicals like carbon monoxide can become trapped in buildings, and then recirculated through heating and air conditioning systems. When air is trapped and full of toxins, it affects the health of the people inside that building. For those with respiratory issues or weakened immune systems, the side effects of sick building syndrome can be quite severe,” (Techsling.com - Sick Building Syndrome, What is it, and do I have it).



Signs of a Sick Building?

• Prolonged cold or allergies

• Irritation of the eyes

• Headaches that only occur at the office

• Continuous Coughing while only being inside the building

• Skin inflammation

• Difficulty breathing and asthma-like symptoms

• Chronic gastrointestinal problem




How does my building get sick?


For almost all cases of Sick Building Syndrome cleanness and poor air quality is the underlining problem.


Faulty Ventilation System

Flaws in heating, air conditioning and ventilation

Cigarette smoke

Cigarette smoke can linger on the smoker’s skin and clothes. Cigarette smoke contains over 4000 highly toxic chemical compounds.



Dust

Tiny pollutants, dust and other environmental pollutants (dust mites) will circulate around your office.

Mold and mildew

When the temperature outside drops and the indoor air is heated, condensation can form around windows, causing moisture. High moisture content in indoor air provides the perfect environment for mold and mildew to thrive. Furthermore, if you have water damage issues in the office, there’s a very high chance that mold and mildew are present too.

Chemical pollutants

Building materials, office equipment; furniture, wall and floor coverings, upholstery, and virtually every commercially manufactured item in your workplace emit chemical pollutants.




What’s the Cure for Sick Building Syndrome?

• Keep workplace clean and Clean spills immediately

• Vacuum regularly with a HEPA filter machine that can collect particles.

• Keep air vents open and unblocked

• Inspect and clean air ducts regularly

• Use fans. People who live and work in places that use ceiling fans (or other fans) to circulate air suffer 75% less infectious diseases.

• Replace air filters frequently. People who use air filters have30% lower amounts of C-reactive protein associated with inflammation.

• Add some office plants. Plants absorb toxins and produce more oxygen. Use air cleaning devices: air scrubbers,

dehumidifiers, and air purifiers.

• Maintain a healthy level of humidity

• Remove obvious water damage, like water-soaked ceiling tiles or carpet.

• Schedule regular maintenance. Make sure HVAC professionals inspect your air conditioning units and furnaces on a regular schedule, to look for potential air quality issues.

• Open windows to allow fresh air to enter the building

• Use natural lighting

Conclusion

The air we breathe is vital to our health. Keeping a building healthy by regular cleaning and HVAC maintenance will protect your employees from illness. If the responsibilities of keeping daily maintenance seems overwhelming you can always hire professionals to keep life simple.






Sources:

https://www.servicemasterclean.com/clean-blog/office-cleaning/9-ways-to-improve-air-quality-in-your-office/

https://www.corporatewellnessmagazine.com/article/five-tips-to-improve-workplace-indoor-air-quality

https://aristair.com/blog/what-does-an-hvac-air-purifier-do/

https://www.techsling.com/sick-building-syndrome/

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