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NIOSH's conceptual approach to designing an epidemiologic study of the "Building-Related Occupant Complaint" syndrome.

Fine LJ; Burkhart GA; Brown DP; Wallingford KM
Indoor Air '90, Precedings of the 5th International Conference on Indoor Air Quality and Climate, Toronto, Canada, July 29 - August 3, 1990, 1990 Jul; :95-97
The reasons for and design of a NIOSH epidemiologic study of building related occupant complaint syndrome (BROCS) were discussed. The need for such a study arose when suspected BROCS became the leading cause for requests for health hazard evaluations (HHEs). The rate of BROCS had steadily increased since the 1970s when the need for increased energy efficiency led to reduced outside air exchange. The possibility that a reduction in outside air supply could lead to increases in chemical and particulate concentrations and a subsequent rise in BROCS was discussed. Inadequate ventilation was listed as a suspected cause in 50% of NIOSH HHEs of suspect buildings. Studies in the United Kingdom and Denmark indicated that gender, job type, work functions, history of headache, migraine or smoking, and work organization were associated with increased prevalence of BROCS. Variation in prevalence rates of BROCS existed between buildings after controlling for building related cofactors. A NIOSH study with focus on the relationship of outdoor air supplied to the building occupants was described, and included the possible development of a valid measure of outdoor air supply at building and occupant levels and medical tests to accurately identify BROCS cases; the examination of the relationship of outside air supply to BROCS; and an investigation of job type, job functions, smoking, other medical conditions and age on BROCS. Other factors to be considered included managerial characteristics of the employer, proprietary nature, and occupant awareness of ventilation system type and changes. Environmental sampling will be conducted to measure carbon-monoxide (630080), carbon-dioxide (124389), volatile organic compounds, particulates, temperature and relative humidity. The authors conclude that emphasis should be placed on primary prevention of BROCS if a relationship with reduced outside air supply is established.
Indoor-air-pollution; Air-quality; Occupational-health; Epidemiology; Closed-building-syndrome; Work-environment; Worker-health; Air-quality-measurement; Sociological-factors; Air-quality-monitoring; Indoor-environmental-quality
630-08-0; 124-38-9
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Indoor Air '90, Precedings of the 5th International Conference on Indoor Air Quality and Climate, Toronto, Canada, July 29 - August 3, 1990
Page last reviewed: February 25, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division