Can a building cause you to become sick?

Can a building cause you to become sick?

Written by Jomy Thomas

Jomy Thomas is the founder of Munkudil Ayurveda Yoga Retreat.

April 3, 2021

Sick building syndrome (SBS), is becoming a known condition. It is even in the online dictionary and described as “A condition affecting office workers, typically marked by headaches and respiratory problems, attributed to unhealthy or stressful factors in the environment such as poor ventilation”.

Almost everyone occasionally feels unwell because they are suffering from one or more common symptoms of discomfort such as headaches, dry throat or sore eyes. But there are occasions when, for no obvious reasons, people working or living in particular buildings experience these sorts of symptoms more often than is usual. The symptoms tend to increase in severity with time spent in the building and improve over time or disappear away from the building. This is often described as Sick Building Syndrome.

SBS is being discussed and becoming more common in modern times. Years ago, even before building Munkudil, Jomy was aware of this. Proper air circulation, ventilation, natural lighting and chemical free premises all contribute in keeping Munkudil away from SBS. Please read on below to understand how we achieve this.

Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) is a term that’s was heard many times during Ecobuild exhibition London 2018 and all other major building products exhibitions, shows and seminars. SBS is a medical condition where occupants in a building suffer from symptoms of illness or feel unwell due to no clear visible reason. The symptoms tend to increase in severity with time people spend in the building and most of the complainants’ report relief soon after they leave the building and the premises.

SBS most commonly occur in air-conditioned buildings and the causes could be many, here are a few potentials:
Inadequate ventilation
Limited access to natural sunlight
Biological contaminants (Bacteria, molds, pollen, and viruses etc.)
Chemicals released from modern buildings and furnishing materials
Chemical fumes from paints and solvents
Chemicals from cleaning products
Air tightness in houses
Other chemical products used for construction
Dust (and dust mites) and other pollutants from carpets
Use of artificial fragrances, perfumes
Over use of electronic devices such as mobile phones, computer monitors, TV, photo copiers…etc.

So how can we prevent this and still live our life?

Use natural day light systems and if using HVAC systems, do proper and scheduled maintenance
Reduce the use of chemicals such as paints, solvents, perfumes, cosmetics and other harmful fragrances. Try to use natural alternatives where and when available.
Reduce the use of electronic equipment which emits radiation and which uses large quantities of chemicals.
Clean carpets at regular intervals if using them.
Open the room every day and allow fresh air to come in.
Use organic materials for cleaning, and natural/ eco-friendly materials in the construction of the building.
Placing right indoor plants on the right areas could also control SBS.

NASA has decades of experience in studying the effects of Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) and their experiments show that continuous habitation of an alien environment in Space results in sickness in less than a year in astronauts and a similar environment on Earth produces ill health in humans in just two years.
― Steven Magee (world leading expert on radiation and human health).

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