Fresh Air's Professional recommendations for a variety of common issues

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Sick Building Syndrome

SBS 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. - EPA 

Chills and muscle aches, a fever or tightness in the chest but only at a certain friends house? Or only at work? You may be experiencing the symptoms of a Building Related Illness (BRI). The World Health Organization (WHO) suggested back in 1984 that up to 30% of buildings worldwide may be the subject of excessive indoor air quality complains.

 

While Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) and BRI may not seem to have a direct cause, and may mysteriously get better after leaving the building for a while. They can be accompanied by headaches; eye, nose or throat irritation; phantom itches or dry skin; or suddenly becoming quite tired and dreary. While you may have an illness resulting from exposure to a virus or bacteria outside the building, if your symptoms improve a short while after you leave, it might just be the building! BRI does differ from SBS in that symptoms experienced hit harder and last longer than those of SBS.

 

SBS has a pretty straightforward solution. If fresher air eliminates the symptoms, you may want to consider getting fresh air pulled into that space. If it’s a business you work for, talk to your managers about ventilation. So how did SBS become an issue? Or, how is it only a recent problem? Well, before the 1970's oil embargo people were nowhere near as ‘energy conscious’ and as a result, when everyone started to close up their homes nice and tight like plastic packaging- toxins couldn’t get out.

 

Of course, we’re also bringing in more and more toxins as well. From plastics to formaldehyde in flooring, building materials and furniture. Our cleaning products and air “fresheners” which do anything but freshen it; instead filling the air with chemical fumes. Whether the source be a can of aerosol or a plugin.

 

With tightened houses, moisture gets trapped inside too. Moisture tries to move from more to less; and when it hits something it has a hard time passing through, it will condense. We don’t always see this condensation, in our attics, walls or basements out of sight- out of mind. Read more about the affects of moisture on a structure in our moisture section.