Have prolonged periods of staying inside a building made you feel uncomfortable or sick? Or have you noticed a major decrease in productivity? Well, then you might have had a case of Sick Building Syndrome.
Sick Building Syndrome is a condition in which building occupants feel discomfort or health issues. Although no specific cause can be identified, these issues are known to be linked to the spatial organization, design, and time period spent within the space.
Sick Building Syndrome can lead to minor health disturbances such as throat pain or fever or sometimes even major health complications such as miscarriages or cancer.
Some of the commonly recurring symptoms due to the Sick Building Syndrome are:
If the fenestration isn’t designed to complement the prevailing wind direction and climate of the space, there will be a feeling of claustrophobia and suffocation.
Malfunctioning HVAC systems or increased building airtightness can be a cause of poor ventilation.
From sources both indoor and outdoor, if not cleaned can lead to illnesses.
Indoor contaminants are primarily due to Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) inside the building due to the upholstery, carpets, adhesives, and so on. Outdoor contaminants are primarily due to vehicular exhaust, building exhausts, and so on.
Poor lighting, especially in digital working environments automatically increases strain on the eyes.
The lack of natural light inside the building may either create an extremely synthetic or overly lit environment or lack of lighting. Natural light is known to increase productivity and optimism and a lack of it can be problematic. And the positive effects of natural lighting cannot be replaced by artificial lighting.
Poor acoustics has the ability to trigger Sick Building Syndrome. If reverberation, sound quality, and loudness are not ideal, it can result in discomfort to the users.
The furniture, wall, and ceiling finishes need to be given priority while considering the acoustics of a space.
All the little physical discomforts that aren’t apparent sometimes add up to result in Mass Psychogenic Illness (MPI).
MPI is the occurrence of a set of physical illnesses in two or more people without any identifiable pathogen that links to the disease. This often results in stress, claustrophobia, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
Although the symptoms of Sick Building Syndrome often coincide with other issues in our day-to-day lives, it creates the possibility of lack of productivity in the space.
With simple design alternatives and careful spatial organization, we can create spaces that truly positively impact our lives.
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