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What is Sick Building Syndrome?

Even today, Sick Building Syndrome isn’t too widely understood. Even the NHS has a reasonably loose definition for it, mainly because there’s often a variety of unrelated causes. The term might appear as if it’s referring to the state of the building itself, but actually Sick Building Syndrome refers to the phenomenon of a building affecting the health of the people in it. This often happens at work, but is known to occur in residential housing, too. So what causes a building to make people sick?

Air quality matters

In short, the air that you breathe inside a building has a direct impact on your health. One cause of poor air quality comes down to the air conditioning systems in the building. While an office building on several levels might use a heating and cooling system that’s not more than a decade old, it could be in disrepair.

An air conditioning system in poor condition could mean its basic mechanical functioning has broken down. It might also relate to air filters that haven’t been replaced in years, possibly due to a poor or non-existent maintenance plan. Both will have a material impact on the performance of the air conditioning units with their ability to clean the air.

Filters and blockages

Airborne bacteria, allergens, and other problematic air particles can cause breathing difficulties, sinus trouble for many people, and even more serious complications for people susceptible to respiratory-related issues. However, adequate filtration and modern air conditioning units help alleviate or resolve the issue. Regular maintenance of the entire heating and cooling systems in a building must take place to isolate areas of concern, equipment that must be replaced, and issues to fix.

dirty air conditioning filters

Filters must be replaced on a set schedule because they each have a useful life too. Checks to confirm if a filter has become blocked up even inside its expected useful life prevent continuing to use the air conditioning unit when it’s not filtering air particles adequately.

Further possible causes of a sick building

Obviously, it’s important that both the office manager and team leaders pay attention to the health of the staff. Should there be a strong indication (or repeated indicators) from employees or visitors suggesting worrisome health concerns, these must be taken seriously.

Anything loosely related to ear, nose, and throat or respiratory issues specifically are often connected to a sick building. The people who have asthma or other respiratory sensitivity are commonly the first ones to show symptoms in the building that ease off when they’re away from it. Pay particular attention for this tell-tale pattern indicating a serious issue.

If you find that your building (or the one you work in) might be at the centre of a case of Sick Building Syndrome, inspections should take place to find other causes of a sick building too. These could be mouldy ceiling tiles or other decaying elements within the building itself. Readily identifying and removing them safely, disinfecting the affected area, and then replacing the building materials goes a long way towards preventing bacteria from spreading inside an office environment or warehouse structure.

Preventative maintenance is the key

As the saying goes, prevention is always the best cure, which is reason enough to have the condition of the building regularly inspected, not least the state of its air conditioning systems. That’s where we come in at Askews! Our heating, ventilation and cooling engineers have years of experience behind them, and for the last 25 years we’ve been delivering high-quality expertise and services to help individuals and businesses take care of their property and staff. You can click here for a free quote on air conditioning maintenance , or call us on 01282 863 825!

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