Do you suffer from heart palpitations, dizziness, nausea, headaches, watering eyes and a variety of other symptoms that start the minute you go to work and clear up after you go home? If you find yourself one of the approximately 20% of people that get “sick” at work, it may have nothing to do with your physical health and everything to do with the environment you work in.
Sick building syndrome (SBS) is the name that’s given to work environments that make people ill and, although no one is sure about the exact origins of this phenomenon, many researchers can trace what they think is the cause back to the 1970s.
Back then, regulatory authorities and builders were looking to save money on the fuels that were used for heating and air-conditioning, so they decided to design and build structures that were close to being airtight.
The results had unintended consequences. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers was able to identify a number of pollutants including build-ups of carbon monoxide, certain solvents that were considered volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like benzene and a few others, and even airborne fungus and spores as some of the culprits.
Other research points to some other reasons for SBS like poor cleanliness in the environment, electrostatic charges, and even low humidity. While this phenomenon is found in many different kinds of buildings, museums, libraries, and even schools are places where SBS shows up often.
Older buildings that use paints with VOCs are often one of the culprits because of off-gassing. Although this was considered a problem years ago, many industries have taken steps to change the tide and the selection of low vapor paint at any home improvement store is proof.
Who’s at risk?
Even though anyone can be in harm’s way when it comes to SBS, employees in the modern airtight office building with mechanical ventilation and air conditioning systems put themselves in a higher risk category. Women are more likely to develop issues, and this may be partially explained by the fact more work in today’s modern offices.
Here’s another interesting factor. At least some research indicates that people are also in a higher risk category if they work in a stationary position for extended periods in front of a computer screen or monitor.
What can be done?
If you think that you’re becoming sick because of something in your work environment, there are some steps that you can take both as employees and employers. Maintenance of any HVAC system including retail AC is a good preventative measure. Whether you have an inside unit or one on the rooftop, making sure that it is in good working order can prevent the build-up of mold and fungi that are associated with SBS.
Finding this kind of commercial AC repair can help to improve the efficiency of the unit and that all-important air quality inside any building.
One of the most important things that employees and employers can do together is get proactive about this ever-increasing problem. Here at Chills Air-Conditioning, we offer an indoor air quality testing procedure that will pinpoint any problems caused by SBS.
It’s important to keep in mind if you feel sick at work and better after you leave, there could be a problem with your work environment and we can help.
Sick building syndrome is often found in structures where a large number of people gather in one area, and mechanical air circulation is common. There are a variety of reasons for this issue including old paints and any kind of mechanical ventilation that’s not properly maintained.
We can help with a variety of services that include expert advice and a host of commercial and residential AC services. If you think you’re working in an environment that’s making you sick, why not get in touch with us today?