The relationship between work related symptoms and office building ventilation was examined. Questionnaires were administered to the workers of office buildings in the San Francisco Bay Area in California. Of the 12 buildings investigated, three were naturally ventilated, three were mechanically ventilated, and six were air conditioned. Building information was obtained from records, inspections, and interviews. Completed questionnaires were received from 880. Of the respondents, 34.9% reported headache or fatigue, 33.7% reported nose or throat symptoms, 22% reported eye symptoms, and 2.6% reported multiple lower respiratory symptoms. While symptom prevalence varied markedly within each ventilation type, the prevalence was lowest for naturally ventilated buildings and highest for air conditioned buildings. Odds ratios (ORs) were adjusted for building factors, personal factors, psychosocial factors, job factors, and work space factors, and were calculated relative to naturally ventilated buildings. The ORs were elevated for all indoor air related symptoms for both mechanical ventilation and air conditioning. For skin symptoms, the ORs adjusted for problem building status were 5.8 and 6.1 for mechanical ventilation and air conditioning, respectively. For lower respiratory symptoms, the adjusted ORs were 3.2 and 4.1 for mechanical ventilation and air conditioning, respectively. The adjusted ORs for multiple mucous membrane symptoms were 3.1 for mechanical ventilation and 3.5 for air conditioning. The authors conclude that work related symptoms are more prevalent in mechanically ventilated and air conditioned buildings than in naturally ventilated buildings.
Mark Mendell, lndustrywide Studies Branch, N!OSH, 4676 Columbia Parkway, R-16, Cincinnati, OH 45226