HEALTHY AND SAFE BUILDINGS
Sick Building Syndrome is used to describe health-related issues suffered by people working or living in buildings that have environmental issues present. Environmental issues causing these symptoms can be from things like harsh lighting, poor ventilation, air pollutants, excessive noise, and uncomfortable temperatures. Symptoms attributed to being in a sick building can include:
headaches, nausea, body aches, dizziness, difficulty concentrating;
runny nose, breathing difficulties, fever, chills, asthma, respiratory irritation;
skin rashes, irritation to eyes, allergic flair-ups, nose bleeds, forgetfulness.
These symptoms are sometimes mistaken for the common cold or allergies. Building materials, particularly newly installed items, are prone to emit Volatile Organic Compounds produced throughout the life of the product. Materials include:
paints; carpets; assorted floor products – vinyl, laminated timber, composite; caulks, sealants, and adhesives; some treated wood; varnishes; and synthetic fabrics.
These can significantly decrease the indoor air quality of a building and increase the severity of the Sick Building Syndrome issues. Comfort and liveability in your home also play a large part in creating a mentally healthy environment. Factors including excessive noise from a nearby highway or thermal deficiencies make for uncomfortable living conditions. The interior design of spaces can also be a contributing factor when done incorrectly. These spaces can cause stress, psychosocial issues, and uncomfortable conditions among its occupants. Further issues like water ingress can cause mould, which creates an even higher-risk environment for residents, especially those who have existing medical conditions or to younger children and can become increasingly hazardous if left unresolved. A firm understanding of the contributing factors that cause environmental issues is vital in ensuring a home is not only livable but also safe for occupants to live in. Air circulation, passive heating and cooling and natural lighting of spaces all collectively should be factored into the design of a home or workplace.