The term “sick building syndrome” (SBS) is used to describe situations in which building occupants experience acute health problems and discomfort that are linked to time spent in a building. Symptoms of sick building syndrome get worse the longer you are in a particular building and get better after you leave. A healthy work environment is vital to prevent this.
When 1/5 of occupants in a building complain of health problems associated with staying inside, the building is considered “sick”.
Symptoms can include headaches, blocked or runny nose, dry itchy skin, sore eyes or throat, cough or wheezing, rashes, tiredness, and difficulty concentrating.
Who does Sick Building Syndrome affect?
Sick Building Syndrome can unfortunately affect anyone. However, individuals who work in large offices without opening windows and with air conditioning or mechanical ventilation systems are at greater risk, due to the bacteria and viruses being distributed.
The cause of Sick Building Syndrome is unknown. However, risk factors include:
- Poor ventilation or lighting
- Low/high humidity
- High or changing temperatures
- Dust, carpet fibres or fungal spores
- Airborne chemical pollutants from things like cleaning materials
- Psychological factors – low staff morale or stress, for example.
The Solution and how IoT Horizon can help
Education and communication are equally as important as trying to make the environment healthier in your workspace. When building occupants and management teams communicate the causes and consequences of indoor air quality problems, they can work more effectively together to prevent problems from occurring.
Simple improvements to indoor air quality can lead to significant increases in employee productivity and wellbeing. At IoT Horizon, we specialise in monitoring real-time environmental conditions including CO2, airborne chemicals, temperature, humidity, and particulates. The sensors will provide visual warnings to users in the building if levels are unhealthy and will alert operations/facilities teams.
Management Teams can then use this data to make changes to the workplace such as opening more windows for ventilation or developing a business case to replace ventilation systems.
Research has linked CO2 concentrations at 700-740ppm with a high prevalence of SBS symptoms. These concentrations are above the CIBSE building standards which specify a range of CO2 concentrations in a closed environment of 450-675ppm. If it exceeds 800ppm, people will notice the lack of fresh air and may experience: fatigue, headaches, difficulty concentrating, and dissatisfaction. This is not an ideal atmosphere for a workplace environment, as it will lower productivity and staff wellbeing.
If you are interested in understanding more about your environment and if your workplace meets building standards, start the conversation, and contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org