If you own or manage an office building, you may have noticed that illness and other employee health issues can travel around a building quickly. Sick building syndrome (SBS) can refer to a variety of illnesses, but they’re all tied to factors you can help combat. Indoor air ventilation and air conditioning are one of the leading causes of sick building syndrome. If these systems are working improperly, they can cause a headache for your workers and you as a property manager, too. That’s why it’s important to know the signs of sick building syndrome and how to address them.

What Causes Sick Building Syndrome?

Sick building syndrome can be hard to pin down, as many of its symptoms are similar to those of the common cold. Sick building syndrome symptoms tend to be directly connected to the amount of time an employee spends within the building. Buildings struggling with SBS typically see employees feel significant relief from their ailments when outside the building, which can be a key indicator of sick building syndrome. But why do these symptoms start?ac-11-3-22-P.jpgThe most common cause of Sick Building Syndrome is the indoor air quality in your office building. Rooms with poor ventilation systems can often cause SBS in employees. Airborne contaminants like smoke, mold or fungus, asbestos, and chemical products can also contribute to sick building syndrome, polluting the air and putting strain on the immune systems of a building’s inhabitants. Businesses in cities with high pollution rates may also be more prone to SBS, as poorly maintained ventilation systems can fail to filter out many pollutants.

However, there are other less obvious, more surprising causes that can contribute to sick building syndrome. Psychological factors like stress or low morale can be a factor, as the mental strain begins to have a physiological effect. A few of the other risk factors include:

  • Low humidity
  • Poor lighting
  • Poor environmental cleanliness
  • High temperature or changes in temperature

The Health Impact of Sick Building Syndrome

Knowing the difference between sick building syndrome and other illnesses can be vital since many SBS symptoms are similar to those of the common cold. SBS commonly comes coupled with chest and throat irritation, along with fatigue and failure to concentrate. It’s important to note that determining the cause of the illness is essential to identifying SBS. If an employee is still unable to discern the root of their illness after visiting their doctor, sick building syndrome may be the culprit.

In more severe cases, prolonged instances of sick building syndrome can lead to worsening conditions. Stress from unhealthy workplace conditions has been linked to conditions like heart attacks and cancer in some people, plus a suite of mental health issues. SBS should be taken seriously. If you fear that your building may be at risk, set up regular maintenance for your building’s ventilation systems. By taking the wellbeing of your employees into consideration now, you can avoid causing more severe issues later.

Ways to Address Sick Building Syndrome

Sick building syndrome is intimidating, but there are plenty of ways building owners and managers can combat occupational sickness. When performing routine cleaning and maintenance, regularly check carpeting, walls, and ceilings for signs of water damage. Chemical products like paints, cleaners, and pesticides should be stored in isolated but well-ventilated areas to prevent volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from lingering in the air of your office. Keeping consistent control over the heating and humidity levels in an office is also extremely important, with humidity levels in the 25-60% range offering better-quality air.ac-11-3-22-S.jpgOne of the leading causes of sick building syndrome is poor air quality, so a functioning and well-maintained HVAC system is critical. Increasing ventilation rates in your offices, removing VOCs from the air of your office building, and providing fresh air for your employees is a baseline minimum. Consider the benefits of an exhaust fan alongside your typical ventilation system if your building tends to use significant amounts of chemical products. Having your ventilation system regularly maintained and professionally cleaned can also help you promote better indoor air quality in your office. Clean ducts run better while removing harmful pollutants your normal cleaning may miss.

How AdvantaClean Can Help Combat Your Sick Building Syndrome

With over 20 years of experience, AdvantaClean brings the expertise and tools to give your office a professional clean. We offer a variety of services ranging from mold remediation, air duct cleaning, and sanitization to water damage restoration and smoke damage. Contact us today or call us at 888.926.3844 for a healthier business.

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