Sick Building Syndrome

Sick building syndrome is a phenomenon that occurs when individuals struggle with health concerns related to the time they spend within a building, such as at home or at work. Sometimes it occurs in a particular room or area, but the symptoms seem to clear when sufficient time is spent outside of that environment.

Symptoms of sick building syndrome include dry or itchy skin, trouble concentrating, irritated or itchy eyes, headaches, throat irritation, coughing, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and breathing problems. There are no identifiable illnesses to explain the symptoms which recede when the person is away from the building.

There are many culprits for sick building syndrome. Even pollens collect inside homes and get kicked up again and again with movement and air circulation. Pet dander is a common allergen that builds up in any home with furry pets. It is not the hair that people are allergic to, as some mistakenly believe. Pet dander is actually dead skin cells that animals shed, just like humans do. Animals that shed more hair do release more dander, however.

Dust mites feed off of the shed skin cells that collect in dust. Dust mites leave feces and their own dead bodies which are triggers for many people’s allergies. Cockroach droppings are also highly allergenic and get kicked up into the air as they dry.

One of the worst offenders in homes and other buildings is mold. Moisture that builds up in the environment, as in bathrooms and basements, becomes airborne. The mold spores are highly irritating and allergenic for many people. Even those who are not allergic can be made sick by mold spores in their environment.

There are also non-biological offenders in sick building syndrome like toxic construction materials or chemical contaminants, such as those stored in closets or used in certain processes. Additionally, radon and asbestos are common and very serious causes of sick building syndrome. If sick building syndrome is a problem, it is important to bring in professionals to examine the situation and come up with solutions, to avoid lasting illness related to the exposure.

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