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Are you working in a sick building?

May 24, 2022
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Are you working in a sick building?

Yes, buildings get sick too. And sometimes it is contagious to us human beings. The term is “Sick Building Syndrome” or SBS.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines SBS as something that occurs when “building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building, but no specific illness or cause can be identified.”

SBS is definitely a slippery disease, especially when the very definition says “no specific illness or cause can be identified”.

Then how can you tell if you are working in an SBS environment? Let’s start with the symptoms:


  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Eye, nose, or throat irritation
  • Dry cough
  • Dry or Itchy skin
  • Difficulties in concentration
  • Fatigue
  • Sensitivities to odors
  • Vocal hoarseness
  • Exacerbation of asthma
  • Personality changes

Again, very nebulous as these could be the symptoms of a thousand different medical conditions. You must tie SBS directly to time spent in your place of work. Are people in your particular office or workroom experiencing these symptoms?

Then carefully consider: Are you near Chemical Contaminants (even from the outside); Biological Contaminants like standing water or unclean areas; Inadequate Ventilation; Excessive Electromagnetic Radiation; Poor Environmental Factors from bad lighting to disturbing audio. A lot of SBS problems can be discerned with common sense. Is there anything unusual or disturbing that you encounter every workday?

What to do about SBS?

Do not suffer in silence. First, journal your symptoms to establish a pattern. Second, consult your physician about your symptoms as they may be related to your own individual health condition. Third, see if the symptoms are shared with your co-workers.

As a business leader you may be in charge of alleviating the situation. If not, call the problem to your leader’s attention. Many causes of SBS are easily remedied. At LACOSTA, we are constantly on the lookout for problem areas that may cause SBS. Any area of your building that may be a breeding ground for bacteria, virus, and mold, we address immediately to prevent you or your fellow employees ever having to deal with the negative effects of SBS.

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