Monthly Archives: April 2011

Sick Building Syndrome – Is It a Joke?

Before you ask yourself “what is sick building syndrome?”, I want you to take a personal inventory of what your is health like? Right now. If, after your personal health inventory, you acknowledge that you have been sick often, and you spend the majority of your time within the same building, then chances are it’s SBS and not the common cold. Before you click to another blog post or another website altogether because you find it so hard to believe, please ask yourself this, “What is sick building syndrome?” 

Typically speaking, SBS is caused by indoor air pollution via poor ventilation and chemical and biological contaminants. Biological contaminants include, but are not limited to: pollen, molds, bacterias, pet dander and insect debris. Chemical contaminants can come from a wide variety of sources including carpeting, paint and airborne chemicals such as air fresheners. As such, our lungs can only take and filter but so much, sometimes leaving us with potential short-term or long-term illnesses. SBS is very real, especially if you are within the confines of a building for extended periods of time every day. Illnesses and symptoms that could develop include allergies, skin, eye, nose and throat irritations as well as other, more serious, ailments.

Although leaving the building can almost immediately relieve the symptoms you may be experiencing, there are sometimes lingering and long-term effects caused by SBS. Long-term effects of SBS can include the development of allergies, fibromyalgia, and even cancer. Perhaps the best indicator to whether or not you are suffering from SBS is to see if others within the building exhibit or complain of similar symptoms which you may be exhibiting. So what can be done to limit these symptoms or mitigate any long-term effects to  your health? One of the easiest ways to lower your chances of developing SBS symptoms is to step outside often during the day, every day. Being that the outdoor air is more often than not much cleaner than indoor air, it would behoove you and others to take frequent steps outside and/or to actually go outdoors for your lunch breaks.

As well, speak to your supervisor or manager about taking steps to lower the contaminants within the building, many of which are very simple. Besides removing and replacing the air filters of the AC system, simply putting some indoor house plants throughout the building as certain plants can absorb some hazardous airborne chemical contaminants. Their other obvious benefit is to provide pure oxygen, which we need to live. Another tactic to reducing these contaminants and allergens is to make sure maintenance cleans thoroughly and often and to make sure any leaks in the plumbing are fixed. Excess moisture promotes mold growth, so the fewer leaks there are the better.

There are many ways to diagnose whether or not you and/or your co-workers suffer from SBS and just as many ways to prevent or lower the risks of developing symptoms of SBS. Stay safe and productive.


Basements and Indoor Air Quality

The basement. Home to a myriad of things we put away for storage, college kids using it a “pad”, and as a not-so-secret “underground lab” for when we need to work on special projects that may or may not be picked up by big business. But it can also be a breeding ground of poor indoor air quality that can make any of us suffer while down there. The basement is often an afterthought for those of us too busy with maintaining cleaner IAQ in our normal living spaces but those areas which we generally do not always go to are equally important. So what dangers do basements present in relation to IAQ? (more…)


Eliminate, Isolate, Ventilate: 3 Steps for Better Indoor Air Quality

As seasons change, so do the needs of family household. In the winter, for example, you’re more likely to turn the inside of your home into your children’s playground, as winter storms and frigid weather make outside play impossible. Letting your children play inside the house, while supervised, is alright to do. However, you have to make sure you’re on top of your indoor air quality.

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Improving Indoor Air Quality

Oftentimes, we take the act of breathing for granted and forget that what we breathe inside our own homes is not always as clean and clear as the air outside. Sometimes what we think we know about outside pollutants and chemicals can cause us to remain indoors, because we think we’re sparing our lungs by doing so. But now that we know that such thinking is, at best, faulty, we can take measures into our own hands on improving our indoor air quality.

So how can we improve the quality of the air we breathe in our homes? Well, here are 5 extremely important tips to help you clean up the interior air at home without going too crazy. The steps themselves are, for the most part, simple and easy to execute and with minimal equipment to purchase and use, making these air quality improvements truly a cinch to accomplish. (more…)