How it works
About this service
Sick Building Syndrome Testing: Unravelling the Mysteries of Indoor Environmental Quality
In an era where a significant portion of our lives is spent indoors, the quality of the indoor environment has gained paramount importance. Among the challenges that arise in indoor spaces, Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) stands out as a multifaceted issue that affects the health, productivity, and overall well-being of occupants. Characterized by a range of unexplained symptoms, SBS has sparked research, debates, and efforts to improve indoor environmental quality and create healthier built environments.
Defining Sick Building Syndrome:
Sick Building Syndrome refers to a condition in which building occupants experience a range of acute health symptoms that are linked to their time spent indoors. These symptoms can include headaches, eye irritation, throat irritation, coughing, fatigue, dizziness, and other non-specific discomforts. Importantly, these symptoms tend to improve when individuals leave the building or space.
Complex Factors at Play:
Sick Building Syndrome is often attributed to a combination of factors related to indoor environmental quality, building design, ventilation, and individual susceptibility. While no single cause can be pinpointed, several factors have been identified as potential contributors:
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ): Poor ventilation and inadequate air exchange can lead to a buildup of indoor pollutants, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), allergens, and microbial contaminants. These pollutants can exacerbate symptoms in susceptible individuals.
Chemical Pollutants: The use of certain building materials, furnishings, cleaning products, and office equipment can release chemical compounds into the air. These volatile chemicals may contribute to indoor air pollution and trigger SBS symptoms.
Inadequate Ventilation: Insufficient fresh air intake and poor ventilation can lead to high concentrations of indoor pollutants and reduced oxygen levels, causing discomfort and health issues among occupants.
Temperature and Humidity: Improper temperature and humidity levels can create conditions favorable for the growth of mold, bacteria, and dust mites. These biological agents can trigger allergic reactions and other respiratory problems.
Building Design and Layout: Poorly designed buildings with inadequate natural light, uncomfortable seating arrangements, and congested spaces can contribute to discomfort and stress, leading to SBS symptoms.
Diagnosis and Mitigation
Identifying Sick Building Syndrome can be challenging due to the diversity of symptoms and the absence of specific diagnostic criteria. However, a pattern emerges when a significant number of occupants report similar symptoms within a specific time frame and location. To mitigate SBS, several strategies can be employed:
Improving Ventilation: Adequate ventilation is crucial for maintaining good indoor air quality. Regular maintenance and servicing of HVAC systems, as well as increasing the provision of fresh outdoor air, can help reduce the buildup of pollutants.
Source Control: Identifying and addressing the sources of indoor pollutants, such as using low-emission building materials and promoting green cleaning practices, can help prevent the release of harmful chemicals.
Regular Cleaning and Maintenance: Proper cleaning practices, including regular dusting and vacuuming, can reduce the accumulation of allergens and particulate matter.
Humidity Control: Maintaining optimal indoor humidity levels (typically between 30-60%) can prevent mold growth and dust mite proliferation.
Educating Occupants: Raising awareness among occupants about the importance of indoor environmental quality and their role in maintaining it can encourage better habits and behaviors.
Implications for Health and Productivity:
The impact of Sick Building Syndrome extends beyond physical discomfort. Poor indoor environmental quality has been linked to decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and reduced cognitive performance among occupants. Employees who work in buildings with healthy indoor environments tend to be more satisfied, focused, and motivated, leading to enhanced job satisfaction and overall well-being.
As the world continues to urbanize and buildings become increasingly complex, the importance of indoor environmental quality cannot be overstated. The rise of smart buildings and the integration of technology offer opportunities to monitor and control indoor conditions more effectively. These advancements hold the potential to further improve indoor air quality, comfort, and occupant health.
Sick Building Syndrome serves as a reminder that our built environment has a profound impact on our health and well-being. Addressing the complex interplay of factors contributing to SBS requires collaboration among architects, engineers, facility managers, health professionals, and policymakers. As our understanding of indoor environmental quality deepens and technology advances, creating spaces that promote occupant health, comfort, and productivity becomes not only an aspiration but a necessity. By acknowledging and addressing the challenges posed by SBS, we can foster environments where individuals thrive, and where indoor spaces are not only functional but conducive to the holistic wellness of those who inhabit them.
How do we test for Sick Building Syndrome?
Synergy provides a range of sick building syndrome testing to look at the air quality within properties. For example, we can measure carbon dioxide levels, moisture, volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde, mould volatile organic compounds and dust mites levels.
Carbon dioxide is one of the best ways to look at air quality. Improvements in building processes, and more laws about their construction, means buildings are increasingly leak proof. While this is good for efficiency, unless the ventilation is correctly controlled and maintained, carbon dioxide can increase and cause problems for the occupants.
Volatile Organic Compounds.
There are thousands of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are present in the indoor environment. For example, VOCs that arise from the property itself, its maintenance or the occupants of the building.
VOCs can cause varied sick building syndrome symptoms. Such as nose, throat and eye irritation to cancer-causing effects and congenital disabilities.
Formaldehyde is a widespread problem in indoor air. For example, wood products such as MDF use it in the glue. Furniture and flooring often release them.
Some people are more affected by low levels of formaldehyde than others. It can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat. As well as these irritant effects, formaldehyde is probably cancer-causing.
There are many different types of mould spores and these give rise to different health effects. We provide a range of tests to determine the problems. These range from simple tests to see if the levels are low, medium or high, to tests that count the number and type of mould spore present. As well as this we can carry out DNA tests that fully identify all moulds present.
Experience in Testing
We have carried out work in lots of types of buildings. For example, we have carried out work for west end theatres, football clubs, call centres, office blocks, and private homes. As a result, this means our staff are unrivalled in their experience in indoor air quality measurements and Sick Building Syndrome testing.
Stack Emission Monitoring
Sick Building Syndrome
Indoor Air Quality Testing
Roadside NOx Measurements
Environmental Noise Monitoring
Get in touch
Synergy Environmental Solutions provide
sampling and consultancy services
throughout the UK and Ireland
We’re happy to answer any questions you have,
or provide you with an obligation
free estimate for work.
Just send us a message!