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Sick building syndrome is a term that describes a wide range of undefined symptoms that people have when they live in a building. It is mostly because of how much time you spend in a building. Poor air quality inside a building can also lead to illness.


Doctors and scientists use the term sick building syndrome when the exact cause of someone’s sickness is unknown.

  • Sick Building Syndrome can be hard to figure out because it has a long list of symptoms.
  • All the people who live in a “sick building” could get sick. Otherwise, people living in just one part of a building may get sick.
  • Usually, people who get Sick Building Syndrome feel better once they leave the building. However, when they come back in the illness symptoms can come back.
  • It is easy to confuse this illness with other health problems because the symptoms aren’t very clear.
  • There is a direct link between sick building syndrome and poor indoor air quality. Indoor air quality is the overall quality of air inside and around a building.
  • What people do inside and bad building design both affect indoor air quality.
  • Overall, the illness doesn’t last long once someone leaves the unhealthy building. However, people who stay living in a “sick building” will stay sick.
What causes sick building syndrome


Sick building syndrome is hard to figure out because it isn’t clear what the exact cause is. Health experts think that the following things cause illness (research from MedicineNet):

  1. Not Enough Ventilation

Ventilation means the movement of fresh air. So, ventilation is very important for good indoor air quality. Basically, it is important that new air gets into a room or building. Without fresh air movement, people are more likely to get sick. 

  • Most buildings in cities don’t have enough ventilation. They are very tightly sealed. Then, the fresh air stops flowing and moving freely.
  • Buildings that don’t have enough ventilation have bad air quality inside. People who live there will get sick. Basically, clean air is an important part of staying healthy. 
  • If there isn’t enough ventilation in a building with a lot of people, they can have a lot of health problems. Sick Building Syndrome is one of the main health issues. 
  1. Biological Contaminants

  • Biological contaminants make the air in your home less clean. Black mold, fungus, bacteria, pollen, and viruses, are some of the most common biological contaminants in buildings.
  • Bat droppings are also a source of contamination. Basically, over time the bats living in the building cause dropping to pile up. Then the droppings get into the air people breathe.  Most biological contaminants cause very bad symptoms after people are near them.
  • Another concern includes mold and fungus. Mold and fungus build up inside air conditioning units. When this happens, they can spread through the whole building. Then everyone inside will get sick. 
  • These pollutants mostly hurt the respiratory system, which is how people breathe.  However, the symptoms may be different from person to person.
  1. Chemical Contaminants

  • There are many different types of chemical contaminants. They can make a substance or a place unhealthy or dirty. If something is inside or outside of a building, it can get into the building.
  • Additionally, people bring chemicals like paint, cleaning products, fabrics, glue, formaldehyde, and other common pollutants into the building. In remodeled or new buildings, paint even gets into the air.
  • People who live outside the building also have an effect on the quality of the air inside. These pollutants are in the form of fumes from factories and cars. It’s possible for fumes to get into a building through windows and air intake systems that aren’t well-designed.
  • People living in a building can show different illnesses even when the chemicals they come in contact with are the same.  Chemical contamination causes symptoms of Sick Building Syndrome right away or after a few days.


As we said before, Sick Building Syndrome has no specific symptoms. However, people who live in a building that is “sick” may have these symptoms:

  • Sneezing: This can happen if a person breathes in a biological or chemical contaminant.
  • Air pollution: People who have been exposed to air pollution may have a hard time breathing.
  • You might get a headache.
  • Other symptoms include tiredness, nausea, fever, body aches, skin rash, chest pains, nosebleeds, bloating, runny nose, or eye irritation.


It’s hard to know if Sick Building Syndrome is the problem someone is having. However, it’s easy to take steps to make where people live healthier. First, people should start with improving the air quality inside their buildings or homes. Here are a few other things people can do to protect themselves from sick building syndrome:

  1. Proper Ventilation

  • Ventilation should be increased in buildings that have a lot of people living in them. This will allow more air to get into the building. More fresh air in the building will improve the air quality inside.
  1. Taking Regular Breaks From Buildings

  • Symptoms of Sick Building Syndrome can only show up when a person is in a place with bad indoor air. The symptoms of illness will go away when someone is not inside a building. Therefore, it’s important to go outside and get fresh air often if you are feeling ill. 
  1. Air Cleaning

  • A way to do this is to put air filters inside of a home or office. Air filters can remove things like pollen and dust from the air, so you don’t have to breathe them. Here is an example of an affordable air filter for personal use.
  • There is a lower chance of getting sick from Sick Building Syndrome if you use air filters.
  1. Removal of Contaminants

  • Remove any contaminants that come from outside or inside the building so you don’t get sick. Air conditioners should be cleaned often to keep mold and fungus from growing.
  • Also, make sure air intake systems are not where fumes can get into the building. This will keep the air inside the building clean. 
symptoms of sick building syndrome


Sick building syndrome doesn’t have a treatment plan. The symptoms, on the other hand, can be fixed.

People who are ill can be given medicines to help them deal with their symptoms. However, the length of time it takes to get better will depend on how sick someone gets.

The best way to deal with Sick Building Syndrome is to keep your body from getting contaminated. Make sure the air inside your home or office is clean. Also, make sure you aren’t bringing in extra chemicals for cleaning or painting. Finally, remember to open windows when doing remodeling projects.

Buildings should be checked for mold, fungus, bat droppings, and other things that could be harmful.


Sick building syndrome doesn’t have a clear cause. Thus, many doctors don’t recognize Sick Building syndrome as a possible cause of illness. People who feel where they live may be making them sick will need to research on their own for relief.

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