Sick building syndrome is a symptoms shown in about 20% of the white collars. Such symptoms are watering eyes; hoarseness; headaches; dry, itchy skin; dizziness; nausea; heart palpitations; miscarriages; shortness of breath; nosebleeds; chronic fatigue; mental fogginess; swelling of legs or ankles; and cancer. The telling factor is if the symptoms ease when workers are at home or on vacation.
To save on fuels for air conditioning, many buildings became virtually air-tight blocking some polluting factors including indoor combustion and buildup of carbon monoxide and inhalable particles; volatile organic compounds such as benzene, styrene, and other solvents; and airborne-allergens and pathogens, such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, spores, and protozoans. Added to that are new building materials (plywood, carpet glue) and fabrics (rugs, furniture) that “offgas” toxic fumes.
Putting in workaholic hours amid these contaminants is bad enough, but what makes it even worse is that, unlike at home, most of us can’t even crack open a window at the office. Instead, we breathe yesterday’s air and work in monotonous, uniform spaces under a forest of fluorescents, which can cause boredom, eyestrain, and lethargy. For those with robust immune systems, this may not matter much. But for 20% to 30% of the office population, the problems can range from the mild–headaches, nausea, dizziness, short-term memory loss, irritability, and itchy eyes and throats–to possible damage to the nervous and respiratory systems. Doctors also link the doubling of asthma rates to bad indoor air.
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