Sick Building Syndrome
Causes of Sick Building Syndrome
While specific causes of SBS remain unknown, the following are listed as contributing factors to SBS. These elements can be a combination of or in addition to other complaints, such as insufficient temperature, humidity or lighting.
- Chemical contaminants from outdoor sources
Outdoor air entering a building can be a source of indoor pollution. Contaminants from motor vehicle exhaust, plumbing grates and exhaust fumes from buildings (bathrooms and kitchens) can enter the building through poorly placed vents, windows and other openings. Combustion byproducts can also enter a building from a nearby garage.
- Chemical contaminants from indoor sources
Most indoor air pollution comes from sources within the building itself. For example, glue, upholstery, carpeting, photocopiers, manufactured wood products, cleaning agents and pesticides can repel volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including formaldehyde. Some VOCs at high concentrations can cause chronic and acute negative health effects, including some known as carcinogens. Low to moderate levels of multiple VOCs can also cause acute reactions in some individuals. Environmental tobacco smoke and combustion products from stoves, fireplaces, and unventilated space heaters can all cause chemical contaminants in the air.
- Biological contaminants
Contaminants like pollen, bacteria, viruses and fungi can breed in standing water that has accumulated in humidifiers, drain pans and ducts, or where water has collected on ceiling tiles, insulation or carpet. Biological contaminants can cause fever, chills, cough, chest tightness, muscle aches and allergic reactions.