Sick Building Syndrome

What is Sick Building Syndrome?

Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) or building-related illness (BRI) is a medical condition where people in a building suffer from symptoms of illness or discomfort due to unknown agents.

What are the Symptoms of Sick Building Syndrome?

The most common symptoms are:

  1. Irritated, dry, or watery eyes (sometimes described as itching, weakness, redness, burning)
  2. Runny or blocked nose (sometimes described as congestion or nosebleeds)
  3. Dry or sore throat (sometimes described as upper airway irritation or difficulty in swallowing)
  4. Dryness, itching, or irritation of the skin

What causes Sick Building Syndrome?

Some of the common causes are inadequate ventilation, poor cleaning and maintenance works, chemical contaminants from indoor and outdoor sources, and improper workstation layout. Recent investigations have shown that job-related factors like work stress, work hours, and dissatisfaction could also cause sick building syndrome.

Can Sick Building Syndrome cause Cancer?

There are no documented studies that show a causal link between having worked in a sick building and chronic medical conditions. Persistent signs and symptoms resolve once the exposure has been completely cut off or when hazards inside the building are removed. In some cases, continuous exposure to poor indoor air quality can lead to lung diseases, such as asthma.

Is Sick Building Syndrome Real?

Sick Building Syndrome is not a recognized illness as it cannot be diagnosed precisely. It should not be confused with certain illnesses that can be directly associated with workplaces, such as legionnaire’s disease, humidifier fever, the effects of exposure to toxic substances at the workplace, or long-term cumulative hazards such as radon, asbestos, or any other volatile organic compounds.

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