The Truth about Sick Building Syndrome


After a major disaster such as a fire or flood, you might notice a few unpleasant changes in your apartment building. That’s because some of the damages tend to have longer or recurring effects. Are your tenants complaining of illnesses? Today we’ll look at what sick building syndrome is and how to deal with it permanently.

Sick Building Syndrome1. What causes sick building syndrome

1. Highly polluted surroundings

Homes situated close to busy factories have high pollutant concentrations compared to those in the suburbs. That’s because smoke from more than a couple of industries gets mixed with wind flowing into your house. The airborne particles end up on your couch, clothes, as well as your kitchen.

Apart from smoke pollution, you can also suffer from sick building syndrome by residing near a chemical dump site. The vapors flowing into your home can affect your body in several ways. For instance, experiencing headaches and nausea after opening your living room window for an hour.

2. Insufficient ventilation

Poor airflow in the building arises due to several reasons. It’s hard to get fresh breathing air when your apartment is surrounded by two or three larger buildings. If the exhaust system isn’t working, tenants keep on breathing stale air. Sometimes, this problem is intentional because you might meet tenants who rarely open their windows.

Stale air has lower oxygen concentration than fresh air coming in through properly aerated rooms. This affects people with breathing problems because their bodies have to strive harder for oxygen. Some people might complain of dizziness.

3. Faulty HVAC systems

HVAC systems ensure you have quality breathing air by regulating temperatures and circulating fresh air. What happens when your unit becomes faulty? First, it becomes difficult to regulate air temperature inside your building. This brings about mold issues.

When there’s excess humidity, it leaves trails on moisture droplets in the vents. When you consider how dark it is, you’ll see how easy it is for mold to spread. Apart from mold, the droplets inside the walls and roof make your building so cold that children get fevers. Senior citizens battling simple colds might take a longer time to recover due to this problem.

4. Harsh chemicals used in the building

One of the reasons you might be experiencing endless headaches in your apartment could be due to the cleaning agents used by the building’s cleaning crew. Some chemicals tend to linger in the air longer than others due to the chemical bonds formed with gases present in your building.

As this contaminated air flows into the air conditioner, you might inhale some of it. This causes one to experience headaches or sore throats because these chemical vapors react badly with your cells. Continuous exposure might cause severe health issues such as internal injuries in one’s throat and lungs.

5. Neglected surroundings

How clean is the area around your building? Large amounts of pollen flow inside a building where the vegetation is left to thrive without any trimming. These allergens end up settling in any room that has open windows. Taking allergy medication in this situation does little good because one needs to get rid of the source of pollen.

Some building managers take a long time to clear out blocked gutters that end up pooling stagnant water after the rain. This is bad because bacteria and viruses thrive in stagnant ponds of water.

6. Poor lighting

Have you ever noticed that mold-infested basements usually tend to have little or no lighting? This condition favors mold growth because they lack chlorophyll. Green plants use chlorophyll to convert sunlight into energy. However, ultraviolet light destroys various strains of mold because its intensity kills cells.

When you reside in a poorly lit building, you might experience sore throats frequently due to breathing in air filled with mold spores. It also causes nasal congestion because your nose produces mucus rapidly to prevent these spores from entering your lungs.

7. Indoor combustion

Indoor combustion can arise due to cooking for several hours and smoking. Buildings with faulty exhaust systems cannot release the unwanted smoke at a fast rate. So, it ends up in the main air conditioner and gets distributed to each house.

As time goes by, more and more tenants complain of experiencing headaches due to one reason. The accumulation of carbon monoxide gas inside your apartment building. This situation can cause long-term health problems on infants because carbon monoxide destroys cells. Higher concentrations can lead to death.

2. 8 common tight building syndrome symptoms

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pains
  • Sore throat
  • Dizziness
  • Chest tightness
  • Dry skin
  • Nasal congestion
  • Itchy or bloodshot eyes

3. How to prevent building related illness

1. Improve your lighting

Your house should receive optimum natural light during the daytime. Sunlight contains ultraviolet rays that kill mold spores instantly. How can you improve this situation in your house? Always ensure your curtains or blinds remain open throughout the day.

Ask a friend to refer you to a good basement-remodeling constructor. Doing this enables you to maximize the entry of natural light. Your basement really needs sunlight because humidity tends to get higher compared to the rest of the house. Avoid cluttering because it hinders ultraviolet rays from reaching all corners.

If you live in a building surrounded by taller ones, the only solution is relocating to a better place where you enjoy sunlight for longer hours.

2. Get rid of all mold

Mold causes several symptoms associated with building related illness. When mold spores enter your airway, one might get nasal congestion. First, inspect your home for any leaking pipes or gaps in the walls where humidity accumulates. Get a plumber to fix the problems before proceeding to the next step.

After step two, you need a mold test kit. Once the lab mails your results, you might need to hire an expert to eradicate your problem and offer advice on how to keep your home mold free. This process might only take a week and you’ll get a good offer if you visit several companies.

3. Upgrade your building’s ventilation

Moisture that accumulates in vents and your exhaust system brings about mold. Plus, it makes temperatures unconducive especially for people living with asthma or senior citizens. Hire a certified expert to inspect your vents and do replacements where necessary.

In order to improve the rate of stale air flowing out of your building, buy and install inline fans. They work by pushing air and directly into the vents and this actually makes work easier for your personal air purifier. Make sure you do regular maintenance to prevent allergen and moisture accumulation.

4. Get a HEPA-grade air purifier

Hospitals and retirement homes use air purifiers with HEPA filters because they trap 99.9% of allergens and microorganisms. They also don’t release any chemical or gas, unlike ozone generators. You can find them at most supermarkets near you or purchase them online on Amazon.

Remember to change your purifier after every 5-6 months. Avoid cutting costs by trying to buy an aftermarket “HEPA-like” filter. Why? Because these filters are highly porous and might get clogged after a couple of months. Plus, you never know whether you’re breathing harmful gases when using the generic brand.

5. Ditch the cleaners with harsh chemicals

Nowadays, you’ll come across several cleaners in the market. However, some of them might be counterfeit brands made from banned ingredients. Using them not only affects your breathing air, but it might lead to skin diseases as well.

Since cheap is expensive, you might have to spend more money on genuine home cleaners. Doing this might seem expensive but when you look at things in the long run, you actually save more money by making fewer trips to the doctor. Plus, you actually enjoy staying indoors when you have fresh clean air throughout.

6. Clean up your surroundings

Earlier on, we talked about the different ways water can stagnate around your home. So, how does one prevent stagnant water pools from forming when it rains? Check your gutter frequently to see if there’s any blockage. Clean it up frequently to prevent dirt accumulation.

Uproot any unwanted vegetation to reduce the amount of pollen flowing inside your house. Get rid of decomposing leaves because bacteria thrive here. Doing this reduces the number of pollutants entering your house when your window stays open. This way, you extend the duration of using your HEPA filters and this reduces maintenance costs.

7. Upgrade your HVAC system

A bad HVAC system cannot control humidity inside enclosed spaces. You need a unit working in excellent condition to keep your home moderately humid. This prevents mold from resurfacing after doing a cleanup in affected areas.

Apply these tips today!

Sick building syndrome affects your health as well as your economic well-being. How does it affect you financially? Because you spent a whole night breathing air filled with mold or carbon monoxide, you’ll feel too sick to report to work. Plus, no one really enjoys going to the hospital or buying medication frequently.