Did you know that there really is such a thing as Sick Building Syndrome? It’s true, and it could be impacting your connecticut building right now.
Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) is known to affect tenants and employees in commercial buildings, and indications include acute negative health symptoms connected with the time a person spends in a particular structure or area within the facility.
A number of symptoms including: “mucous membrane irritation (eye, nose, and throat irritation), neurotoxic effects (headaches, fatigue, and irritability), asthma and asthma-like symptoms (chest tightness and wheezing), skin dryness and irritation, gastrointestinal complaints and more” were documented in a 1994 report by the World Health Organization report.
Is there a cause of Sick Building Syndrome?
The concept of SBS is controversial, as it’s difficult to determine whether or not reported symptoms are psychosomatic or caused by actual environmental issues.
In some circumstances, physical ailments are caused by chemicals and other contaminants inside some commercial buildings. These can include:
- Chemical contaminants (such as poorly stored cleaning supplies)
- Ozone (which is produced by some office equipment)
- Particulates in the air (which can be caused by outgassing of certain building materials)
- Infectious diseases
In many commercial buildings, HVAC system inadequacies can create the perfect environment for these contaminants.
When a commercial HVAC system isn’t effectively circulating air throughout a building and bringing in adequate fresh air, the indoor environment can deteriorate, filling with natural and manmade contaminants.
If heating and cooling systems are not regulating moisture or maintaining the right temperature, the inside air can become a perfect breeding ground for biological agents, from mold and the rhinovirus (the cause of the common cold) to serious infectious diseases.
What can you expect from a sick building?
With the exception of serious mold outbreaks — which usually develop over a long period of time — the issues above aren’t going to immediately damage your building or the components of your HVAC system.
However, the longer the system is compromised, the more likely it will need cleaning, repair, or replacement. Filters, fans, and air intake vents can all become dirty and even infested with bacteria, mold, or fungus, prioritizing their need for cleaning or replacement. Over time, malfunctioning parts can have a snowball effect on the rest of the system, causing more damage and greater expense.
There’s also the cost of energy to consider, as a system struggling with issues may be running inefficiently and wasting money.
It’s important to also consider the impact on the facility’s occupants if they’re experiencing discomfort and illness over a long period of time. From more sick leave to lower productivity to increasing turnover rates, a sick building can end up costing the businesses running inside of it a lot of money over the long term.
What can you do about SBS at your building?
First and foremost, it’s essential to understand the root cause of the problem, which is not always easy. A professional, experienced HVAC service company has the knowledge and ability to do just that, quickly, accurately, and effectively.
If you own or manage a facility in Connecticut where tenants routinely complain about physical symptoms that could be caused by an issue with air quality, contact ENCON today to have your system inspected and get the problem fixed.