Sick Building Syndrome



Used to describe situations in which 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 has been identified.

Indicators of Sick Building Syndrome

Building occupants complain of symptoms associated with acute discomfort, e.g., headache; eye, nose, or throat irritation; dry cough; dry or itchy skin; dizziness and nausea; difficulty in concentrating; fatigue; and sensitivity to odors. The cause of the symptoms is not known. Most of the people who complained, reported relief soon after leaving the building.
  Figure with a magnifying glass

Solving the problem (Locating the source)

While investigating remember, that mold generally needs a moisture source and a food source to survive. Poorly configured landscape irrigation or inadequate drainage outside the building can result in moisture inside the building. This can lead to subsequent mold growth.

  • Carpets can get moldy – check them out.
  • Plastic “carpet savers” can lock in moisture, where other areas have a chance to dry out.
  • Plants and moss in plants can be a good location for mold to grow.
  • Check anywhere there’s been a pipe burst or water leak – even long after it’s been repaired.
  • The air conditioning systems may be contaminated with mold. This can be a result of various conditions, such as overflowing drain pans, condensation blowing off the coils onto internal insulation or water incursion into the ducts (leaking rooftop ducts) to name a few.
  • The filters in the HVAC system don’t fit correctly, leaving gaps and allowing contaminants into the system.
  • The outside air intake for the HVAC system is located near a bathroom exhaust or other undesirable locations. Not enough outside (fresh) air. Fresh air is needed to dilute the contaminants typically found within a building.
  • HVAC system not balanced, e.g. too much or not enough air being delivered to a specific location.
  • HVAC system has been contaminated. This can be a result of outside sources or conditions within the system.

If you have any further questions call our indoor air quality expert

Stephen Huff at 1 800 358-3828