Do you have Sick Building Syndrome?
Learn the symptoms, and find ways to improve your building’s environmental health.
Persistent headaches, mysterious rashes, and constant allergy-like symptoms–these are common experiences for those suffering from Sick Building Syndrome. Often caused by poor indoor air quality, this may lead to chronic conditions among occupants, reducing work productivity and adversely affecting their health in the long run. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates 30 percent of new and remodeled buildings suffer from the condition. Reasons for the escalation are many, but experts cite efforts by builders and regulators in the 1970s to reduce energy use by sealing up facilities. But there are easy ways to tackle this issue head on with our troubleshoot guide.
Remove Cleaning Toxins
Conventional cleaning agents can contain chemicals that irritate the lungs and skin. After cleaning, these residues linger in the air and on surfaces, affecting occupants. Such harmful ingredients include ammonia, hydrochloric acid, sodium hydroxide and petroleum solvents. Instead, choose green cleaning products certified by third-party organizations like Green Seal, EcoLogo, Safer Choice and GREENGUARD that contain alternatives such as accelerated hydrogen peroxide that can be used as a multi-purpose cleaner and a sanitizer.
Maintain Your HVAC System
Good air circulation proves crucial for maintaining indoor health conditions. To counteract your building’s lack of natural circulation, make sure your HVAC system is maintained regularly. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends an airflow rate of 5 cubic feet per minute, per person in the average office. Ensuring A/C filters are replaced regularly, makes a big difference. Also consider cleaning out your ducts to improve air flow.
Choose Materials Carefully
Common interior materials and furnishings like flooring, composite wood products, paint and adhesives may emit toxins into the environment. Even years after installation, a renovation ripping up these materials could reintroduce harmful substances. Instead, look for materials with low or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Check out our green style guide for the best indoor materials.
Mold and mildew thrive in damp areas, which can cause allergic reactions even among people who aren’t normally allergic. To prevent this, be sure to repair all leaks quickly and thoroughly dry out any affected areas. Clean any signs of mold or mildew with a mold treatment solution.
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