What is Sick Building Syndrome?

What is Sick Building Syndrome?

What is Sick Building Syndrome?

According to an article written by Department of Preventative and Social Medicine Correspondent Dr. Sumedha Joshi and published in the US National Library of Medicine, Sick Building Syndrome is a term used to describe a situation in which the occupants of a building experience health-related effects that seem to be directly linked to the time spent inside the building. Signs and symptoms can include headache; dizziness; nausea; eye, nose, or throat irritation; dry cough; dry or itching skin; difficulty in concentration; fatigue; and increased asthma attacks.

Joshi explains that there are several ways a good building can become sick, the most common culprits being chemical or biological contaminants, like motor vehicle exhaust or mold.

How Does a Building Develop Sick Building Syndrome?

Chemical contaminants.

Pollutants like motor vehicle exhaust, radon, asbestos, and formaldehyde can enter the building through poorly located air intake vents, windows, and other openings.

Biological contaminants.

Mold and bacteria can breed in stagnant water that has accumulated in humidifiers, drainpipes, and air ducts - anywhere that water has collected, especially on porous materials such as carpets and upholstery. It is possible that mold may be growing on hidden surfaces, such as the back side of dry wall, wallpaper, or paneling, the top of ceiling tiles, the underside of carpets and pads, etc.

Inadequate ventilation.

Malfunctioning HVAC systems increase indoor air pollution by circulating trapped contaminants throughout the building up to seven times a day.


Equipment like microwaves, televisions, and computers emit electromagnetic radiation, which ionizes the air - extensive wiring without proper grounding creates magnetic fields, providing an optimal environment for electromagnetic radiation.

How Do I Protect My Building from Sick Building Syndrome?

Easy tip: Check the plants in your office. Over watering can cause mold. Yes, your plant may be making you sick!

To protect your building from Sick Building Syndrome, Joshi recommends increasing the ventilation and air distribution, which means to make sure your HVAC system is working properly and your air ducts are free and clear of any contaminants that could be circulating throughout your building. Also, if you find mold in your building, call a mold remediation specialist immediately, and work with him or her to develop a mold remediation action plan.

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More info? For more information on commercial mold, check out our other post, Healthy Office Environment? Commercial Mold Causes and Tips.

Contact the AdvantaClean commercial services team at 800.282.2663 to talk to one of our project managers and schedule a mold inspection or mold remediation assessment today!

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