Maintaining indoor air quality could help to avoid Sick Building Syndrome

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Sick Building Syndrome is a widely recognised but little understood phenomenon where people suffer a range of symptoms that are connected to time spent in a particular building, usually an office. The NHS website lists improving ventilation as the number one thing that can be done to counteract the effects.

The NHS lists possible symptoms of Sick Building Syndrome as:

  • headaches
  • blocked or runny nose
  • dry, itchy skin
  • dry, sore eyes
  • rashes
  • tiredness and difficulty concentrating

These symptoms could be caused by many things but are most likely to reflect sick building syndrome if symptoms subside when they are being experienced by lots of people who work in the same building and when they subside shortly after leaving the space.

The number one thing that everyone working in a particular building shares, is the air circulating in the space. That’s why the number one thing you can do to counteract Sick Building Syndrome is to ensure that indoor air quality remains high.

How to ensure the quality of the air in your office building

This might sound counter intuitive but opening a window may not be the best solution. A 2016 YouGov survey commissioned by the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) found that opening a window could allow outside toxins to enter the building, thereby polluting the space further. 

Better than opening windows as a reaction to symptoms is to ensure that air filtration in a building is adequate and fully operational at all times. This includes the need to build regular ductwork cleaning into the maintenance schedule of a building and ensuring that ductwork leakage throughout the building is minimal and maintained to be within the allowable limits. Failure to do either of these things could quickly impact the health of a building, by which of course, we mean the health of the people who spend their working week inside of it.

Poor indoor air quality is a widespread problem

In the same BESA study, 70% of office workers reported that they believed poor indoor air quality in their workplace was having a negative effect on their productivity and well-being. The report produced by the Royal College of Physicians, which prompted the BESA survey, stated that poor air quality, both indoor and outdoor, could be linked to as many as 40,000 premature deaths in the UK every year.

Since we spend up to 90% of our time indoors in this country, with many of us spending a significant portion of that time at work, the implications of poor air quality at work could be far reaching.

If you feel that Sick Building Syndrome is effecting your employees, act now. Employ qualified, BESA approved engineers to check that your air filtration systems are in full working order and it could impact the productivity, as well as the health, of your team.