Sick building syndrome and building-related illness.
Environmental and occupational medicine, third edition. Rom WN, ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippencott-Raven Publishers, 1998 Sep; :1471-1477
Since the late 1970s, consultants and public health agencies at the local, state, and federal levels have been barraged with requests for investigative assistance to determine the origins of and solutions to complaints of office workers regarding their indoor building environments. the most frequent constellation of building-associated complaints is called sick building syndrome. It consists of mucous membrane irritation of eyes, nose, and throat; headache: unusual tiredness or fatigue; and, less frequently, dry or itchy skin. The hallmark of these complaints is their tight temporal association with building occupancy, and their rapid resolution, within minutes to hours, when affected office workers leave implicated buildings. Sick building syndrome is distinguished from more medically serious building-related illness by its subjective nature, reversibility, and high prevalence within implicated buildings and across the nonindustrial building stock in North America and Europe. Building -related illnesses include asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, inhalation fever, and infection. In contrast to sick building syndrome, these building-related illnesses are uncommon and may result in substantial medical morbidity. Building-related asthma and hypersensitivity pneumonitis are usually accompanied by sick building syndrome complaints among co-workers. Whether similar etiologies contribute to sick building syndrome and these building-related illnesses is still speculative.
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