Ever felt really uncomfortable or uneasy in a building? Either a residential home or a work space. You just feel the building playing with your psychological peace and confidence and somehow you can’t seem to get it all together. Well you could be suffering from SICK BUILDING SYNDROME (SBS) and in this article; I’ll be talking extensively on it.
SICK BUILDING SYNDROME (SBS) is a situation in which the occupants of a building experience a level of acute health or comfort related effects that seem to be linked directly to time spent in the building. During this time, you feel all shades of uneasy and you’re just unable to trace the source of your discomfort till you leave the building. Below are KEY FACTS about SBS:
Mode of discomfort is usually unspecific
The source of your discomfort is usually not known
It reduces your console limit in such buildings
Most complainants habitually express relief immediately they’ve exited the building
SBS is controversial, many experts and specialists do not believe it is true. So many believe it is a psychological effect; that is why many have linked it to the psychology of a building.
There are no diagnostic tests for the syndrome
There is no specific treatment for the syndrome
There is this high inability to stay inside a building until you step outside
Lack of concentration thereby reducing performance of workers
Best word to describe your feeling is ‘UNEASY’
It is however worthy to note that complaints may come from other causes like pre-existing allergies or illness, job-related stress or dissatisfaction and psychological effects. This is why this syndrome is still very much controversial.
SYMPTOMS OF SICK BUILDING SYNDROME
The following are usually associated with SBS; headache, dizziness, nausea, eye, nose or throat bleed, irritation, dry cough, dry skin or itchy skin, difficulty in concentration, fatigue, sensitivity to odour, hoarseness of voice, allergies, cold, flu-like symptoms, increased incidence of asthma attacks and personality changes.
FACTORS PRIMARILY RESPONSIBLE FOR SBS
Contaminants from outside like pollutants from motor vehicle exhaust, plumbing vents and building exhausts (bathrooms and kitchens) can enter the building through poorly located air intake vents, windows and other openings.
Common volatile organic compounds sources like adhesives, upholstery, carpeting, copy machines, manufactured wood products, pesticides, cleaning agents, etc. Environmental tobacco smoke, respirable particulate matter, combustion byproducts from stove, unvented space heater also increase the chemical contamination. Synthetic fragrances in personal care products or in crackdown and maintenance products also contribute to the contamination.
Contaminants like pollen, bacteria, viruses, fungus, molds, etc. that breed in resting water that has accumulated in humidifiers, drainpipes and ducts or where water has collected on ceiling tiles, insulation, carpets and upholstery.
Insect and bird compost are also contaminants. Air conditioning systems in a building helps spread them very quick and easily.
Inadequate ventilation, lighting and bad acoustics
Electromagnetic radiation from home gadgets like microwaves, televisions, computers, etc ionizes the air which when breathed in causes a sort of discomfort without the user knowing.
Psychological factors; Excessive work stress or dissatisfaction, poor interpersonal relationships and poor communication are often seen to be associated with SBS.
PREVENTION AND CONTROL
Increase the ventilation rate and ensure proper air distribution. The air conditioners (HVAC) should be properly operated and maintained.
Avoid air pollution to achieve clean air
Banning of smoking in the workplace or restricting smoking to designated well-ventilated areas away from the work stations and creating no-smoking zones with the help of laws
Allowing time for building material in new areas to off-gas pollutants before occupancy and smoking restrictions are some measures that can be used.
Interiors: Lighting and color must mix well with the surroundings and not jar the senses, man-made electromagnetic radiation must be reduced as much as possible, interiors should be done by using natural materials without toxic content and should be economically designed, there should be no toxic outgases or harsh smells, indoor humidity should be naturally regulated, air pollutants should be filtered and neutralized, thermal insulation should be balanced with heat retention, use of solar heating should be encouraged, moisture content in new buildings should be low, protective measures against noise pollution and harmful infrasonic and ultrasound radiation must be ensured, natural balance of atmospheric electricity and ion concentration should be maintained.
Know the effects of the kind of building materials that can affect you in your house.
WHAT KIND OF SPECIALISTS TREAT SBS?
Primarily there are no specialists for SBS but Primary-care physicians and pediatricians usually treat symptoms that are attributed to the air quality in buildings, but other specialists may become involved. For example, allergists, immunologists, specialized building inspectors, and others may be called in to help determine the cause of the problems and ways to solve them.
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