Problem

Sick building syndrome

Other Names:
Unhealthy office buildings
Contaminated buildings
Nature:
Sick building syndrome (SBS) describes a medical condition in which people in a building suffer from symptoms of illness or feeling unwell for no apparent reason. SBS expresses itself as a general physical dissatisfaction which may comprise symptoms of lethargy, headaches, sore throats, watery eyes, and more rarely rashes, dizziness, nausea or even short-term memory loss. The symptoms tend to increase in severity with the time people spend in the building, and improve over time or even disappear when people are away from the building. SBS results in substantial disruption of people's work performance and personal relationships,, and considerable loss of productivity.

The malaise is associated with but not necessary caused by the physical condition of the building. The classic sick building has large open spaces, tinted glazed windows and air conditioning. It is not known what are the causes of sick buildings but factors that contribute are air and surface temperatures, the level of humidity, air movement especially in the local work area, air purity and amount of fresh air, the organization of the space, the colour schemes and lighting. Buildings with monotonous environments are more likely to be sick. Public sector buildings are more effected than private sector buildings. The attitude of people is a contributing factor. If the general feel of the building is good it is more likely to not be sick.

Incidence:
SBS is wide spread and may occur in offices, apartment houses, nurseries and schools, resulting in substantial costs to the community.

Schools in the UK have been forced to close because of vapour from cavity-wall insulation; a mysterious form of rot has caused the disintegration of carpets; people in several communities in the USA have been forced to move out of their homes because they become ill when living in them.

Counter Claim:
Sick building syndrome is a myth. It is the job, not the building, that brings on illness. So-called building related illnesses occur least where there are high levels of job satisfaction, and occur most where there is little sense of fulfilment or of belonging to the organization.
Problem Type:
F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
Date of last update
29.06.2018 – 18:41 CEST