Is your Building Making you Sick?

Studies say invisible contaminants in indoor air and pollutants emanating from carpets, desks and machines at workplaces are actually making us sick.

We feel the signature symptoms all too well — fatigue, eye, nose and throat irritations to allergies, migraine, headaches, infections and sudden colds and flu. All around us, our officemates are seemingly forever sniffling and coughing — when they are not calling in sick.

Given that most of us spend 90 per cent of our time indoors, especially during the soaring heat and humidity of summer, it’s no surprise that our immune systems are highly vulnerable to poor indoor air quality and stressful work environments.

indoor air quality, healthy home

Scientific studies are beginning to back up our workplace suspicions that desk work is not always favourable to our health and wellbeing.

An avalanche of studies are delivering convincing evidence that invisible contaminants in indoor air, as well as chemical-laden pollutants emanating from carpets, desks and machines at workplaces, are actually making us sick, spurring on absenteeism, lower work output and costing employers untold revenues in lost employee productivity.

There’s even a name for it — Sick Building Syndrome — a malaise thought to be brought on by harmful pollutants in commercial, industrial and home designs.

Long-term, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), chemicals that are off-gassing from paints, carpets, laser printers and photocopiers, “are really everywhere and can lead to fateful diseases,” said Farah Yassine, Senior Consultant Sustainable Resource Management, Middle East.

Yassine said a long list of chemical compounds and air particles are found in everything – from desks and office, cleaning agents to mould spores and dust found in air ventilation shafts.

A lot of work remains as well to encourage companies to create more ergonomic offices through less crowded office spaces, more colourful decor and layouts that encourage employees to be more physically active said colleague Matsouki.

This article originally appeared on July 1, 2017.

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