Understanding Sick Building Syndrome and How to prevent it
Sick building syndrome affects the occupants of a building, typically marked by respiratory issues or headaches that disappear as soon they leave the premises. The symptoms can be confusing and the syndrome difficult to identify. The main reasons are harmful air pollutants like stagnant air, asbestos, mold or lead in the buildings. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, resistant to heat, electricity and corrosion. It was used in cloth, paper, cement and plastic before it became globally banned. Upon ingestion, the trapped asbestos fibres in our body can cause inflammation, scarring and genetic damage to body cells.
Lead is another hazardous substance; it is a heavy metal that causes anaemia, weakness,kidney and brain damage (very high exposure can even be fatal). High levels ofmold particles cause severe allergies and respiratory issues. Ace Environmental Services Ltd. can help you identify various health hazards related tothese materials and offers solutions such as asbestos removal.
The Various Causes and Symptoms
Harmful vapours from lead, formaldehyde, lead fumes or other volatile organic compounds present in construction elements irritate our body. If the air-ventilation is proper, you may not experience it. Contrarily, if you take steps to reduce energy consumption, there won’t be proper air circulation. Measures like insulation, building wraps and weather-stripping doors strictly minimize the loss of heated or cooled air. Paints, ozone from appliances like refrigerators, chemicals from cleaning agents and mildew add to air-quality issues.
Identifying sick building syndrome can be difficult as physicians treat each symptom separately. The common way is to observe whether a large number of building residents are experiencing similar problems. Additionally, check if the symptoms subside when you are out of the building. The symptoms may also coincide with the use of HVAC appliances.
You may experience the following:
- Chest pain or shortness of breath on mild exertions
- Pregnancy problems or miscarriages
- Legionella organisms contaminate cooling towers and cause Legionnaire’s disease and Pontiac fever.
- Inhalingin contaminated water droplets from humidifiers causes humidifier fever, asthma and allergies.
Prevention and Cure
Here are some steps you can take to prevent sick building syndrome:
1. Dry the damp or wet areas – Damp and humid conditions boost the growth of microbes and mold. They aggravate allergies or even cause it in non-allergic people. Identify and repair water-leaks or seepage issues and use fans to dry dank areas. Whenever you notice mildew or mold, take measures to remove and prevent them.
2. Ensure an adequate supply of fresh air – High-volume, low-speed (HVLS) fans can remove a huge amount of air and can be reversed in cooler months to eliminate drafts. Some systems allow the control of multiple fans remotely from a single point. Traditional ventilation systems will also facilitate air movement and the removal of unpleasant gas or odours.
3. Perform regular HVAC maintenance – Your HVAC systems require regular filter change and cleaning to remove accumulated dirt and debris. You can contact professionals to make sure the system is working at its best efficiency. They can check for harmful emissions from the appliances.
4. Check your ducts – The ducts should be cleaned regularly and checked for mold, dirt or vermin.
5. Install air-cleaners – Air purifiers can provide you with clean air in your rooms. They can remove ozone emitted from equipment, fumes and vapours. To enjoy clean air in a complete building, you should install HLVS fans.
6. Open windows and sunlight – Good air-circulation and sunlight also help to purify the air. It is advisable to keep the windows open for at least a few hours every day.
Our professionals can facilitate lead, mold and asbestos removal. Our team can check the quality of your indoor air and advise you on how to maintain it to prevent sick building syndrome. Head over to our other blog to learn the importance of indoor quality.
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