Sick building syndrome (SBS) is a condition where occupants experience health issues or discomforts linked to time spent in a building, with no specific illness or cause identified. Read on as Cafco Services discusses how to detect SBS, what causes it and how HVAC maintenance can help prevent this issue.
If you get headaches; dizziness; nausea; eye, nose and throat irritation; allergies; sensitivity to odors; or breathing issues that go away when you leave your home or office, you might be experiencing SBS. You should also watch out for common building symptoms like musty odors, chemical or external odors like exhaust fumes, moisture problems, mold growth, high humidity, and uneven temperatures in some areas of the property.
These are the most common causes of SBS.
Uncontrolled humidity – Excessive humidity in your property can lead to indoor air quality issues, including the growth of harmful microorganisms and the buildup of chemical contaminants. Inefficient office HVAC systems are often the cause of humidity problems as they struggle to remove enough moisture from the air.
Bacteria and mold growth – The spread of bacteria, viruses, and mold and mildew spores through your HVAC systems is a common cause of SBS. Especially in an environment with high humidity, these contaminants can accumulate inside your air conditioning unit and ductwork and circulate throughout your workplace.
High levels of chemicals and VOCs – These chemicals include cleaning products, ozone from copiers and formaldehyde released from indoor building materials. High humidity can increase the levels of these contaminants in the air.
Outdoor pollution – This is a common issue in city environments where ozone levels, vehicle exhaust and other outdoor air pollution levels are high. If your HVAC system is not properly designed, you could be drawing pollution from the outside into your indoor spaces.
Insufficient ventilation – If your building is not properly ventilated, contaminant levels build up to the point where they cause symptoms. Inadequate ventilation is usually due to poor system design, improper location of intakes and vents, clogged ducts, dirty air filters, and neglected upkeep of the system.
How HVAC Maintenance Can Prevent SBS
Regular maintenance by trusted HVAC companies can prevent SBS by improving indoor air quality through optimal airflow, humidity control and the elimination of airborne pollutants. HVAC filter products are also crucial in filtering out contaminants, ensuring clean and healthy indoor air.