Prime the pump
November 22, 2022
Is your house or workplace building making you sick?

Have you ever felt unwell whenever you were in a certain building but as soon as you stepped outside the feeling was resolved until you entered that building again? If yes, you may have experienced ‘sick building syndrome.’

Today we conclude our series on Occupational Safety and Health with a focus on the sick building syndrome. The Environmental Protection Agency of the United States of American states that sick building syndrome occurs when occupants experience certain symptoms only when inside a certain building.

The symptoms usually resolve when outside the building, hence the name “sick building.” Furthermore, one of the leading experts in the USA on mould exposure and the phenomenon known as sick building syndrome, Dr David Straus said that sick building syndrome is the result of an indoor air contamination problem.

In an interview with CBS News, Dr Straus said the usual symptoms include eye, nose and throat irritation, nervous system symptoms like fatigue, headaches, and irritability, headaches and fatigue, asthma like symptoms such as wheezing, dry cough, and chest tightness, skin symptoms like dry, itchy skin, gut symptoms such as nausea and, general symptoms like sensitivity to odours and difficulty concentrating. However, the symptoms usually dissipate once occupants have left an infected building.

Dr Straus said sick building syndrome is caused when some microorganisms negatively affect the body. To date, research has shown that two fungi, Penicillium and Stachybotrys, have been linked to this syndrome. These fungi usually grow and cause air problems when building materials, such as walls and carpets, become wet. Combined with a dirty environment, the fungi grow.

He suggested that to prevent sick building syndrome from occurring that you check your home to ensure that there are no broken water pipes or roof leaks that could lead to substantial mould growth. Make sure your home is weatherproof as much as possible to reduce humidity inside the house. And dust your house and change your air filters regularly.

Furthermore, in an article by CUTICA Health titled ‘Sick Building Syndrome: Is your building making you sick?’ It was advised that you focus on identifying the triggers within the building and eliminating them by making improvements to the building. Some of the needed improvements include better air quality, improve building ventilation, regular air cleaning, regular vacuuming.

The author went on to say that if you think that your home or workplace is a sick building, you should contact a local air quality business to see if (it) can determine whether your home/workplace has problems. ‘However, you need to also seek your doctor to treat the symptoms of sick building syndrome, even if they go away outside the building. When you experience wheezing, shortness of breath, for example, these symptoms suggest airway narrowing and could be life-threatening. Your doctor will prescribe medications to prevent and manage this, to prevent avoidable complications.’

The Occupational Safety and Health Six-part Workplace Conversation Series being hosted by Jaric St. Vincent Limited continue on the 23rd and 24th November at the Sunset Shores Hotel conference room where the critical issue of Conducting and Documenting Risk Assessments will be discussed.
Safety and health is every body’s business.