Are you or your loved ones suffering from sick building syndrome? Sick building syndrome (SBS) can lead to a variety of problems, including headaches, dry eyes, sore throat, dry skin, fatigue, lack of concentration, dizziness, and mental health issues. SBS can have a major negative impact on your health, productivity, and happiness.
The main cause? Poor air quality. It’s important to know that poor air quality in a building promotes all sorts of illnesses, including asthma, depression, and allergies. Fortunately, there is a lot that you can do to improve the quality of your indoor climate, whether that’s in your own home or at the office.
We will tell you exactly what that is, but please note that this article is for informational purposes only. Consult your doctor if you think you suffer from SBS.
What is sick building syndrome?
Sick building syndrome (SBS) is a combination of disorders (syndrome) that are related to a person’s workplace or home. In 1984, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a report that recognized it as a real disease with a clear cause. It said that up to 30 percent of new buildings caused sick building syndrome.
Symptoms of sick building syndrome
The symptoms that characterize sick building syndrome include, but are not limited to:
- Muscle pain
- Dry itchy skin
- Red eyes
- Nose irritation, sneezing
- Difficulty breathing
- Concentration problems
The syndrome can manifest itself in many different ways. People might also suffer from gas and bloating, mood swings, depression, nausea, and chest pain.
What causes sick building syndrome?
The WHO didn’t only acknowledge the existence of SBS, but it also said that one of the main causes was a lack of fresh air. According to the EPA, indoor air pollutants, such as pesticides, volatile organic compounds, and carbon monoxide (CO) are the main cause of SBS. Even some types of mold can cause it.
So why did this all suddenly pose a problem after the seventies? Looking back, it turns out that the problem arose after the oil crisis of 1973. Oil prices were excessively high, so buildings were built as energy efficient as possible to reduce heating costs.
As a result, newly built schools, offices and houses were constructed as airtight as possible. People assumed that this type of building would have lower heating costs. Unfortunately, it had one very undesirable side effect. Not only did these new buildings keep out cold air, but they also kept bacteria, fungi, and other contaminants in.
Asbestos, lead dust, radon gas, carbon monoxide, mildew, pollen, dust mites, formaldehyde, nitrogen, and cigarette smoke can make people ill. Common household cleaners and even some furniture can release harmful gasses. Rugs, paints, varnishes and building adhesives ‘exhale’ dust into the air that contaminates the indoor environment. They can’t make their way out in an airtight building, so they get stuck inside and add to the pollution already present inside.
These trapped polluters had all the space to accumulate and multiply up to dangerous amounts. Nowadays, new buildings require a standard of 1 cubic meter of fresh air per minute per person. But in the 1970s, this standard was only 0.3 cubic meters. People who worked in these renovated or newly built buildings began to complain about a wide variety of symptoms.
Surprisingly (or not), for most people, their complaints diminished once they had left the building for some time. Unfortunately, some patients continued to suffer from the symptoms, even long after they avoided entering the ‘sick’ building.
7 ways to prevent and treat sick building syndrome
Do you recognize the symptoms above? Are you tired of suffering from SBS? Take the following steps and start living a happier, healthier life.
1. Clear the air with a negative ion generator
A polluted indoor climate can cause stress, chronic colds, and other health problems. People need fresh, healthy air that is not polluted by house dust mites, bacteria and other allergens. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to ventilate. Especially when there’s a lot of traffic or air pollution outside. Do you live in a country with high humidity? Then fine dust and other particles penetrate the air even more.
To combat these pollutants, you can put a high-quality negative ion generator in your home. An ionizer releases millions of negative ions in the air that cling onto allergens, making them too heavy to stay airborne. Instead of in your lungs, they end up on the floor, the tv or the furniture. Of course, you need to clean them up regularly, so they don’t get kicked back up into the air again.
Negative ions are proven to be incredibly good for your health. They even help reduce symptoms of depression. Have you ever noticed how good you feel after a thunderstorm? After it has rained heavily? After a visit to a waterfall, the beach, or after a shower? These are all environments that are rich in negative ions.
2. Restrict cigarette smoke and the release of other harmful substances
Cigarette smoke, smog, dust, molds and other forms of pollution are associated with positive ions, which are harmful to your health. In order to avoid these, you shouldn’t allow pollutants, such as cigarette smoke, in or around your home. If you do, you should definitely place a negative ion generator in your home.
When painting your house, make sure you wear a mask and open the windows to redirect contaminant emissions from the paint. Don’t keep pesticides, detergents, adhesives and paint products stored in the living room. Gases, solvents and degradation products can quickly escape and spread in the air. Use the storage room or the basement instead.
Recently, researchers discovered that radon gas is the second most important cause of lung cancer (smoking is the first). This radioactive gas, which is released from building blocks and from the ground, accumulates in crawl spaces, such as the cellar. Before entering the basement, you should let it air for a bit.
3. Replace your air conditioning with a fan
Poor air quality is a result from ineffective air conditioning or ventilating systems. Make sure to get your systems cleaned and their filters replaced regularly. Preferably, replace you air conditioning system with a fan.
Ventilators are a simple and cheap way to quickly cool down your house or workplace. A fan moves the air around, while air conditioning doesn’t. Combine your ventilator with a high-quality negative air ionizer, and you are well on your way to better health.
4. Clean your house with natural cleaning products
Keep your house clean, but don’t overdo it. Remove as much dirt as possible from your home and try to use natural cleaning products. Chemical products actually pose a threat to your health as well. They can irritate your airways and throat, lead to headaches, and can even cause cancer. Also, they’re expensive and bad for the environment.
Natural cleaning products are safer for kids to use. Make this easy all-purpose cleaner yourself: pour 1 tsp of borax, 1/2 tbs of baking soda, 1tbs of liquid Castile soap in a spray bottle and add 2 cups of warm water. Add a few drops of essential oil and shake it up. You can clean your bathroom, floors, and your kids’ toys with it.
5. Get a couple of health-promoting plants
Plants are very good for your health and for the indoor air quality. They absorb carbon dioxide, produce oxygen, and their leaves capture airborne substances. It has been proven that people are happier and healthier when they are surrounded by plants. Plants that promote indoor air quality and help reduce pollutants are the Areca Palm, Peace Lily, Lady Palm, Rubber Plant, Philodendron, and the Ficus Alii.
6. Reduce electromagnetic radiation
Devices like microwaves, computers, televisions, and smartphones emit electromagnetic radiation and positive (bad) ions. Although many people think that it is normal to watch tv in bed and sleep with a smartphone, it’s actually very bad for your health. Don’t put too many electrical devices in your home, and definitely try to keep them out of the bedroom. If you can’t live without your gadgets, put an air ionizer in your room.
7. Create a relaxed home and/or office environment
SBS is often associated with excessive stress. Build up your stress tolerance level by creating a relaxed home and/or work environment. Besides improving the air quality, you can focus on creating the right lighting. Make sure the lightning and colors in your home or office feel good to you. Use natural materials without toxins, choose solar heating if possible, and find a good balance in ion concentration by placing an air ionizer in your home or office.
Negative ion generator for better indoor air quality?
It takes more than only an ionizer to improve indoor air quality and combat sick building syndrome. But if you combine all 7 methods, you will most likely notice a significant improvement in your condition. The more satisfied you are with your indoor climate, the better your productivity, health and happiness get. This reaffirms the importance of good climate control.