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Cleveland HVAC Blog

Sick Building Syndrome: Do You Know What it Means?

Posted by Paul Wadsworth on Wed, Jun 24, 2015 @ 12:00 AM


sick-home_1435172521.jpgWhat Is Sick Building Syndrome?

Back in the mid-1980s, the World Health Organization released a report that found that up to 30 percent of new and remodeled buildings had problems related to poor indoor air quality. People in these buildings often complained about a myriad of symptoms, none of which could be tied to any specific illness or cause. The symptoms included headaches, nausea, coughing, allergies, fatigue, problems concentrating and odor sensitivity. Studies found that indoor pollutants in these buildings were the most likely cause. From this report, the nickname "sick building syndrome" was born.

Causes of Sick Building Syndrome

  • Not enough ventilation - In the past few decades, home builders have been creating more efficient buildings. The idea is to make homes more efficient by keeping conditioned air indoors, but the problem is that the air trapped inside the house concentrates all the indoor pollutants in stale, recycled air.
  • Chemical contaminants from inside the house - A partial list of indoor chemical contaminants includes pesticides, carpeting, tobacco smoke, carbon monoxide, and particulates from wood stoves and gas heaters.
  • Chemical contaminants from outside the house - If you have a garage attached to your home, you have some exhaust from your vehicles penetrating your home. Other outside sources of chemical contaminants include sewer gases and building exhausts.
  • Biological contaminants - Besides manmade contaminants, you also need to worry about biological contaminants. These include viruses, bacteria, molds, pollen, and insect debris.

How to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Adding a whole-house air cleaner can capture up to 95 percent of the airborne pollutants floating around your home.  Other options include: 

  • adding a heat recovery ventilation system to replace stale indoor air with fresh outdoor air, without compromising your HVAC efficiency.
  • adding an air purifier to augment the performance of your system air filter
  • adding an ultra-violet lamp to clean your system 

There are many options to consider.  If you want to learn more about how to improve your indoor air quality, contact the home comfort pros at P. K. Wadsworth Heating & Cooling.


Topics: air quality systems, air quality issues

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