Sick building syndrome may sound as if your home has caught a cold (Ahchoo!), but it’s really the opposite. In a building with sick building syndrome, the inhabitants are the ones that start developing symptoms that are often mysterious and can’t be attributed to infections or toxins.
The usual symptoms of sick building syndrome include unexplained headaches, dizziness, nausea, skin irritation, fatigue and irritations of the eyes, nose and throat.
The first documented cases of sick building syndrome started in the 1970s, which was when many people began working in offices.
This has many causes, and the main one is, of course, the structure and design of the building itself. Here’s how you can avoid it in your own home or office:
1. Let there be light
In many of the buildings where people fell sick from the unhealthy design, there were very little windows, or windows were small and sealed up, or even covered up with thick curtains. The lack of sunlight has been linked to negative feelings in residents and employees, so always keep your windows large and opened, and your curtains light in colour and weave.
2. Proper ventilation
Apart from making sure that your windows are large and open throughout the day, you can also install ventilation or exhaust fans. If your home is air-conditioned, make sure that you service and replace their filters regularly. Any ventilation or exhaust fan you have should also be equipped with a HEPA filter to keep out external pollutants. There should be no smoking indoors as this leads to serious indoor pollution.
3. Clean out damp areas
Make sure that you ensure there are no areas within your home that are constantly damp. If there are, you’ll have to fix the leak as dampness and wetness will result in the expedited growth of mould, mildew and other germs that can cause irritations to the lungs and skin. Regularly dusting your home and vacuuming it will help minimise the chances of biological contaminants in the building, such as dust mites. In the case of a water feature in your home, always make sure to change the water regularly and keep it clean.
4. Minimise chemical contaminants
Many products used in the home contain Volatile Organic Compounds or VOC which can harm your health. Items like carpet glue and wall paint may contain VOCs. You can minimise the presence of VOCs in your home or office by making sure that all the paint, solvents, cleaning products and building materials are certified VOC free. If possible, all chemical products in the house should be kept in a separate space away from the living area.
5. More green in the home
Introduce more plants in the home, and fill any central courtyard space you have with air cleaning plants. Many indoor plants that can clean the air exists, including the Spider Plant, Dracaena, Peace Lilies and Boston Ferns. These plants are able to remove many chemical pollutants, including xylene, formaldehyde and ammonia, many of which are in the VOC category.
Making your home safer and healthier should be one of the foremost priorities, since it concerns the whole family. If you would like some professional help modifying some parts of your home to prevent sick building syndrome, drop a line with our professional home renovators. You can also get your home thoroughly cleaned to free it from organic and inorganic contaminants with the help of experts home cleaners here at Kaodim.
written by Michelle Chee