As beautiful as the weather may be at the change of seasons from summer into fall, this time of year is often marked by spikes in sickness as people spend more time back indoors. Apart from Covid-19, annual viruses and bacterial infections like the flu, strep throat, and seasonal GI bugs keep people away from the office, but how can you be sure that it is not the building itself causing ailments?

Is Your Office Building Making People Sick?

If employees seem to be continually sick, it may be something known and recognized by the EPA as Sick Building Syndrome. According to the EPA, Sick Building Syndrome “is used to describe situations in which building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building, but no specific illness or cause can be identified.”

Perhaps a handful of employees have recently gone to the doctor for similar symptoms only to test negative for the usual autumn illnesses. It may be a clue that your building is sick. Common symptoms experienced by those in a sick building may include:

  • Headache
  • Eye, Nose, or Throat Irritation
  • Dry Cough
  • Itchy Skin
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Odor Sensitivity
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Chest Tightness
  • Respiratory Congestion

What Causes Sick Building Syndrome?

Office Air Quality

Any of the below sources can be responsible for creating a poor air quality environment that ultimately leads to sick building syndrome. The importance of staying on top of and mitigating air quality is essential to avoiding this problem and keeping employees healthy and productive.

Poor Ventilation

Without sufficient ventilation to maintain a steady airflow through the office, air stagnates and can create a buildup of carbon dioxide over time. Not having enough oxygen in the air can lead to feelings of tightness in the chest, fatigue, headaches, and more. Furthermore, buildings with poor ventilation are also associated with musty and damp environments.

To keep up on the quality of your building ventilation, work with an HVAC technician in your area. Oftentimes, older buildings have outdated ventilation systems that could contribute to the problem.

Chemical Contaminants

Contaminants both inside and outside of a building can pollute the indoor air quality. These contaminants may emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are known to cause both chronic and acute health effects when present in high concentrations. Examples of common VOC-contaminants in office buildings may include:

  • Adhesives
  • Carpeting
  • Upholstery
  • Pesticides
  • Copy or Fax Machines
  • Manufactured Wood Materials
  • Tobacco Smoke

Biological Contaminants

At ServiceMaster by Rice, we are all too familiar with things like mold and mildew, and understand just how much of an effect they can have on physical health.When it comes to sick building syndrome, viruses and pollen also add to the mix of potential harms. Often, these compounds can accumulate and grow in place like stagnant water in air ducts, wet ceiling tiles, carpet, and elsewhere. Aside from necessitating mold remediation services, the presence of these contaminants in a building may mean replacing old ceiling tiles, getting new carpet, and more.

Cleaning & Biological Hazard Remediation

When it comes to sick building syndrome, there is no cure-all. The biggest signs pointing to an issue are generally related to building occupants experiencing symptoms that then seem to dissipate when not in the building.

You can improve the environment and air quality of the space you occupy by hiring professional sanitation and cleaning services to prevent the build-up of harmful contaminants. If you become aware of issues like mold, it is important to take care of the issue with mold removal service right away. ServiceMaster by Rice has been serving Iowans and Southern Minnesotans with various cleaning solutions and mold expertise for years. Contact our team today to schedule mold remediation, tile and grout cleaning, carpet cleaning, biohazard remediation, and more! With thorough and comprehensive care, your building will become a healthier place for all.