Indoor Air Quality in Buildings

Do you live in building? You will be interested in this article for sure. Buildings are sometimes more ‘critical’ when it comes to indoor air quality. Many of us who live in buildings do not realize that sometimes the air in your apartment might be even more polluted than the air of a house. And you ask yourself, how is that possible is the space is smaller and I have an HVAC system? Well, it all comes to ventilation. Regularly, buildings use to have less ventilation than a house, and that implies that the air inside you flat is not being constantly renovated. Thus, it is polluted, and you never get to breath fresh, clean air unless you are by a window 24/7. What is more, there is even a condition called ‘sick building.’ Have you ever heard about it? If not, we are going to explain it to you so you can be aware of how taking care of your health and the health of your loved ones who live in a building.

Sick building syndrome (SBS) is a condition in which people in a building suffer from symptoms of illness or become infected with chronic disease from the building they reside. It is also possible to get the sick building syndrome by working in an infected building. Therefore, a sick building, by definition, is a building in which the environment puts the occupants at risk for upper respiratory infection. 

How does a building become a ‘sick building’?

The most likely reason for a building to become sick is the direct result of inadequate cleaning or inappropriate cleaning methods. However, another reason might be buildings with defects in the construction materials or assembly process and-or inadequate maintenance. As you can see, when it comes to sick buildings, most of the problem do not depend on you, but on the owner or manager of the building itself. 

According to NADCA (National Air Duct Cleaners Association), 1 out of 4 buildings in the United States can be classified as sick, which means that you probably have, are or will be inside one of them at least once in your life. 25 % of people living in buildings are living in a polluted, non-healthy environment. That is why we, the householders, must pay attention to where we are living or working. In fact, 64 million workers frequently experienced two or more symptoms associated with sick buildings syndrome at work, including nose irritation, eye irritation, and headache. 

More recently, sick building was confirmed as a vector -any agent which carries and transmits an infectious pathogen into another living organism- for the transmission of Severe Acute Respiratory System (SARS). Properties which are identified as a sick building are condemned, which means that authorities close or place restrictions for the sake of public health. In many cases, the building itself is too damaged to recover, as the construction materials used are decaying from mold or rot. This happens often in buildings with lower than adequate maintenance or other economic concerns. 

Why it is important to recognize if you are inside a sick building?

Indoor air quality is the temperature, humidity, ventilation and chemical or biological contaminants of the air inside a building. When the indoor air quality is poor, your health is at risk. In fact, indoor air pollution ranks as one of the top five environmental risks to public health since 1990. Some data: around the world, a death occurs every 20 seconds due to poor indoor air quality. 2 out of 3 indoor air quality problems involve, indeed, inefficient HVAC and air duct systems. That is the reason why it is so important to have these appliances cleaned often and by professionals. 

Some of the symptoms you can experience if you are constantly exposed to a sick building environment are headache, eye, nose and throat irrigation, fatigue, dizziness and nausea. If you happen to experience one or more of the symptoms described above and you have absolutely no clue about what might be causing it, please consider paying the doctor a visit and examining if the building where you work or live is possibly a sick building. The sooner you find out what is causing those symptoms, the better. 

You May Also Like