Sick Building Syndrome and related moisture and mold problems is currently one of the top concerns for business and property owners from a health and management standpoint.
According to Wayne Hansen, a member of Cal-OSHA and an editor for CAHO publications, human assets are the most valuable and expensive assets of any business. In terms of cost/square meter, the human asset is approximately 10 times the total building operation cost and nearly 100 times the energy cost. No matter how it is expressed, when a business can give rise to personal productivity, the business wins.
"A healthy workforce is a productive workforce" is a concept embraced by modern day business minds. It implicates that the more companies put into their workforce, the more they will get out."
What is sick building syndrome?
Sick building syndrome has come about as a term that describes a condition where air quality is very low in a work or school or living environment. This poor air quality can be caused by allergens such as dust, molds, and other contaminants and polluters. Buildings that have suffered repeated water damage are especially vulnerable to sick building syndrome and can cause any number of health problems to people who must live or work in the environment.
Virusses and bacteria can also be a cause of sick building syndrome as infected people "infect" a facility causing other people that frequent that building to fall ill.
What causes it?
The syndrome is thought to be the result of poor indoor air quality (IAQ), caused in turn by inadequate ventilation, faulty or poorly maintained air conditioning systems, and a wide array of indoor chemical pollutants, dust mites, molds, mildew and fungi. Moulds and bacteria thrive in poorly maintained air conditioning systems or in dirty, damp patches, such as in bathrooms or around water leaks. When organisms grow in ventilation systems, they can spread throughout an entire building.
Indoor air pollution can occur in any building, but is particularly common in modern office blocks, which often have sealed windows and ventilation systems that re-circulate much of the interior air and old buildings with moisture and dust problems.
Most indoor air pollution comes from indoor sources. Building materials and office supplies often emit small amounts of toxins. Examples of common sources include: chemically treated wood, plywood and particle board in furniture and fittings, paint, glues, upholstery, curtains, carpets, aerosols, construction materials, cleaning agents, deodorisers and perfumes, photocopy machines, felt-tip pens and correction fluids.
There is also a concentration of germs, diseases and viruses from the people in the buildings themselves. These germs then breed in the warm and moist conditions including in the air-conditioning system and are spread throughout the building to all the occupants. Improving designs of air conditioning systems, increasing the quantities of fresh air drawn into the air-conditioning system, and disinfecting filtering systems and high traffic surfaces can reduce sick building syndrome.
The majority of people spend over 90% of their time indoors. In this case, indoor air will impact our health far more than outdoor air will. The EPA informs us that 6 out of 10 homes and buildings are "sick", meaning they are hazardous to your health as a result of airborne pollutants, bacteria and viruses.
Symptoms of SBS
Symptoms vary with different people, but can include (often "unexplainable"): assorted respiratory challenges as well as bloody noses, dizziness, nausea, headaches, difficulty with focus, fatigue, increased sensitivity to odorsheadaches, sneezing, wheezing, runny nose, shortness of breathe, rash, confusion, eye, nose, and throat irritation, stuffiness, "spaciness", skin rashes and other flu-like symptoms.
The symptoms following exposure come and go relatively quickly. you may notice them within an hour or two after entering a building and may also notice that they will be gone within an hour or two after leaving a building."
Remedies for SBS
Restoration of a building with sick building syndrome can be very costly as the cleaning of the heating and cooling system is very involved and costly. Prevention is the best course of action for owners and businesses to prevent this problem. The building should be surveyed and inspected regularly for leaks and water damage. Water damage should be repaired as soon as possible to avoid mold contamination. Repairs should be made to the ventilation system if they are not working properly to avoid costly contamination of the air system ductworks.
Indoor plants and the removal of the sources of pollutants can also improve the indoor air quality significantly.
Enviro-Safe provides an effective anti-microbial fogging treatment to fight the buildup of a wide variety of molds, mildew, bacteria, viruses and dustmites. The application continues to fight these health risks for long after it has been applied.
With proper facilities maintenance, and a service and inspection program from Enviro-Safe, the risks of these building related illnesses can be greatly reduced for with the effect of greater productivity, reduced absenteeism and increased health benefits for all employees, patients, students and residents.