Sick Building Syndrome and Mold
Sick building syndrome (SBS) is a variable medical condition with multiple symptoms. These symptoms can be illness-like or more comfort-related and usually correlate to how much time the person spends in the affected building. Mold, along with others like pollen and bacteria, is a contaminant that potentially contributes to SBS.
What Are the Symptoms of Sick Building Syndrome?
Sick building syndrome's symptoms can vary widely, making diagnosis challenging. Doctors typically use a process of elimination to come to their conclusion. Most people will experience relief from their symptoms when they exit the building causing them.
Typical symptoms of SBS include:
- Eye, nose, or throat irritation
- Dry or itchy skin
- Dry cough
- Difficulty concentrating
- Cold or flu-like symptoms
- Heart palpitations
- Swelling of leg or ankles
- Increased regularity of asthma attacks
- Personality changes
It's possible for those suffering from a sick building illness to only experience a few of these symptoms, but any of them can lower work efficiency in offices. Apartment buildings or houses with mold issues can also be sites of SBS, making those spending their time in the building feel uncomfortable and even ill.
What Are the Statistics on Sick Building Syndrome?
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) says a building could be causing SBS if 20% or more of the employees who work there have symptoms. Modern buildings are highlighting just how toxic buildings can be - by 1990, approximately 52% of all complaints to NIOSH involved sick-making work environments, up from just 8% in 1980.
The different definitions and methodologies make pinning down exact prevalence rates challenging. Still, SBS's effect on productivity is staggering: the estimated economic consequence of this health condition could be up to 70 billion USD. Increased healthcare expenses, decreased productivity, and increased absenteeism are the leading causes of this economic strain.
What Do Specialists Say About the Sick Building Illness?
The rise in SBS-related symptoms has many health organizations, scientists, and researchers on the quest for more data. The World Health Organization (WHO) was the first to coin the term in 1983. It's since been identified as a prevalent issue by other health organizations like NIOSH in the U.S. and the NHS in the U.K.
Other studies have been conducted by engineers and architects, like this recent one published in February 2022.
This study mentions that interest in the syndrome is growing "not only because of the increasing number of overheating, inadequate ventilation, and poor indoor air quality but due to the growing consciousness of the role of building environment on human health."
Building Factors that Can Lead to the Problem
SBS is possibly caused by biological contaminants like mold but can also become an issue in buildings with inadequate ventilation. HVAC systems can also play a role if they don't distribute air evenly throughout the building or keep humidity levels and temperature in check.
Chemical contaminants can come from indoor sources like cleaning agents and paint or outdoor sources like motor vehicle exhaust. Buildings with unvented gas stoves, space heaters, or fireplaces can also be linked to SBS.
Mold can breed in the stagnant water found in ducts or drain pans and is responsible for many of the respiratory complications associated with SBS, even outside of the syndrome itself. This is why mold should always be addressed promptly once discovered with professional mold remediation.
Are There Any Complications of Sick Building Syndrome?
SBS can create many problems, regardless of the building it affects. Some noticeable complications that can present themselves in an environment with sick building illness include:
- Problems with job productivity
- Extensive building testing
- Costly medical testing to achieve a diagnosis
- Possible need for relocation
- Lack of energy
- Exacerbation of existing health complications
The relative newness of SBS compared to other syndromes means there's still much left to learn about prolonged exposure. But since mold alone can be the catalyst for a multitude of long-term health issues, it's crucial for homeowners, business owners, and tenants to address mold growth to avoid contracting illness.
How Can Sick Building Syndrome Affect Your Life?
Because sick building syndrome encompasses a vast spectrum of symptoms, it could potentially impact your life in many ways. Those with pre-existing conditions like asthma or allergies will likely have worse symptoms. You might experience constant fatigue or discomfort if the building inflicting SBS is your home or apartment or a place where you spend a great deal of time. Any combination of SBS symptoms could alter your job performance, energy levels, and overall well-being.
How Can You Deal with SBS?
Some of the best ways to take care of SBS include these recommendations:
- Minimizing or eliminating exposure to airborne irritants
- Adjusting the building's ventilation rates
- Keeping temperatures in the building stable
- Taking breaks and going outside for fresh air
- Consistently cleaning and sanitizing surfaces and upholstery
- Seeking professional mold remediation.
As SBS could be related to mold growth, having a professional assess the building for mold should be a priority. Mold remediation services from professionals like Mold KO can make an immediate difference in the health and wellness of those working or living in the building.
Put an End to Mold Health Issues with Professional Mold Remediation
SBS is a growing threat to the modern work environment that can lead to reduced productivity and higher labor and healthcare-related costs. Fortunately, it's possible to fight back against indoor mold growth with mold remediation services from Mold KO.
We understand that dealing with mold growth can be a stressful and time-consuming process. That's why we are committed to making it as easy and convenient as possible for our customers.
That's why we provide our mold removal services in:
- Alexandria, VA
- Arlington, TX
- Brooklyn, NY
- Queens, NY
- Elizabeth, NJ
- Gaithersburg, MD
- Miami, FL
- Washington, DC
Contact us today to eliminate mold and fight back against Sick Building Syndrome.