What is the Sick Building Syndrome & How to Avoid It

man is sick and sneezing with blue background, asian

The sick building syndrome may sound as if your home has caught a cold (Ahchoo!), but it’s really quite the opposite. In a place with sick building syndrome, the inhabitants are the ones who 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, skin irritation, nausea, fatigue and irritation of the eyes, nose and throat.

The first documented cases of sick building syndrome started in the 1970’s, which was when many people began working in offices.

This has many factors, 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:

1. Let there be light

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In many of the places where people fell sick because of an unhealthy design, there were very few windows. If there were any, the 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 open, and your curtains light in color and weave.

2. Proper ventilation

Photo credit: Chaago 

Apart from ensuring that your windows are large and open throughout the day, you should 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

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Ensure that there is no area within your home that is constantly damp. If there is, you’ll have to fix the leak as dampness and wetness will result in the expedited growth of mold, mildew and other germs that can cause irritation to the lungs and skin.

Regular cleaning and vacuuming will help reduce the chances of biological contaminants in the building, such as dust mites. In the case of a water feature in your home, always remember to change the water regularly and keep it clean.

4. Minimize chemical contaminants

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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 minimize 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. Install more greenery in the building

Photo credit: DesignRulz

Introduce more plants at home and fill any central courtyard space you have with air cleaning plants. There are many indoor plants that can clean the air, 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 your top priorities since it concerns the whole family. If you would like some professional help in modifying your home to the prevent sick building syndrome, you can get in touch with trusted professional home renovators. You can also get your home thoroughly cleaned to free it from organic and inorganic contaminants with the help of expert home cleaners here at Gawin.ph.


written by Michelle Chee