What is Sick Building Syndrome?

people blowing their nose

You might have heard the term sick building syndrome, but what is it and does your home have it?

The EPA states that sick building syndrome occurs when occupants “experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building, but no specific illness or cause can be identified.”

Sick building syndrome can occur in a single area such as a basement or room, or it can be prevalent throughout the entire house or building.

Signs of Sick Building Syndrome

While sick building syndrome symptoms may vary by person, here are some signs and symptoms that can be present, such as:

  • Headaches
  • Irritation of the eyes, nose, or throat
  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Problems with concentration
  • Dry cough
  • Itchy or dry skin
  • Sensitivity to odors
  • These symptoms disappear after leaving the building

Causes of Sick Building Syndrome

A common theory of the cause of sick building syndrome is that in the 1970’s, construction builders and property owners became more conscious about energy consumption. Builders took steps to reduce energy waste in buildings which meant they became tighter as to not let air escape. Also, chemicals and materials used in the building process can emanate fumes well after construction has completed. These can be referred to as VOCs—volatile organic compounds and includes additives in adhesives, wood treatments, paints, cleaning agents, and more.

Regardless of origins, sick building syndrome is always associated with poor indoor air quality.

What to Do if You Suspect Sick Building Syndrome?

While you can’t change the design and or maintenance of the building, there are ways to combat sick building syndrome, including:

  • Increase air exchanges
  • Keep up with HVAC maintenance
  • Treat symptoms with
  • Open windows if possible
  • Get fresh air on lunch breaks

If you suspect sick building syndrome, consult with your HVAC technician to evaluate your home or building. One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning® of Pittsburgh is available to assist you any time of day for all of your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning needs. Give us a call today!