How to Prevent Sick Building Syndrome

Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) is a condition that affects both the workers and the occupants of a building, like an office or school. It happens when indoor environmental conditions lead to health problems for those who work or spend time in them.

The symptoms of SBS can be similar to other illnesses, so it's important to recognize this condition early on in order to prevent it from getting worse.

Symptoms of SBS

  • Headaches
  • Blocked or runny nose
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Dry, sore eyes or throat
  • Cough or wheezing
  • Rashes
  • Tiredness and difficulty concentrating

(Source: NHS)

Causes of Sick Building Syndrome:

Poor temperature control

One of the primary contributing factors to SBS is poor temperature control. If you work in a building that has inadequate ventilation, your body will be forced to work harder. As a result, your body may overheat and dehydrate you. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, headaches, dizziness and other symptoms associated with SBS.

Unhygienic air filters

Dirty air filters are an easy way to spread germs, dust mites and other allergens in your home. In turn, this can exacerbate symptoms like SBS. It’s important that you get your air filters changed every three months at least. If they don’t seem to be working properly or if you suspect that they may be dirty, then it’s better to change them sooner rather than later.

One of the best ways to make sure your air filter is doing its job is by using a UV light tester. This will tell you whether or not it needs cleaning or replacing altogether

Unhygienic HVAC equipment

HVAC equipment is a major source of sick building syndrome. HVAC systems can become breeding grounds for mould, bacteria and other harmful microorganisms. Regularly cleaning your HVAC system will help prevent this from happening but if you want to go a step further there are steps you can take to ensure that your systems are free of dangerous microorganisms.

One way to do this is by having your HVAC system inspected by a professional on a regular basis. A trained technician should be able to detect any problems with the system as well as clean it properly so it doesn't become contaminated again in the future.

Faulty air conditioning machines

Before you even get started on how to fix the problem, you need to make sure that the AC machine itself isn't faulty. This is a common cause of poor air quality in buildings, when an AC unit is broken, it can release mould spores and dust into the building's atmosphere.

These allergens can then cause allergies and asthma in those who are sensitive to them.

How to prevent SBS

Cleaning up after pets

If your office has pets or if there are people who bring their dogs into work, you should make sure that these pets aren't contributing to SBS by tracking dirt onto carpeted floors and leaving fur behind. When this fur gets tracked onto your furniture and clothes, it creates allergens that irritate allergy sufferers and exacerbate asthma symptoms

Regular cleaning and maintenance of HVAC equipment

If you have air conditioning and heating equipment in your building, you should have regular maintenance performed on it to prevent the buildup of mold and other allergens. If there is already mould present in your HVAC system, call a professional cleaner who knows how to remove this substance safely.

You should regularly clean your air filters and coils to prevent SBS. This will help keep the ventilation system running efficiently, which can significantly reduce the amount of dust present in your building and the risk for respiratory problems caused by poor indoor air quality (such as SBS). Keeping your unit up-to-date with annual inspections, and replacing parts whenever necessary, helps too.

SBS is a serious issue for many people, and it can be difficult to know where to start when trying to combat this problem. But by following all of the tips in this article, you’ll be on your way toward preventing SBS and improving your indoor air quality.

WaterCare Solutions tests and assesses your air hygiene. In line with current legislation and industry guidelines, we can inspect, clean, and maintain your duct air systems.