“Sick building syndrome” is a phrase coined to describe acute symptoms of discomfort associated with a certain residential or office building, where no specific illness or cause can be identified. Symptoms can include respiratory ailments, asthma, rash, dizziness, headache, nausea and difficulty concentrating.
Sometimes, several building occupants may report varying symptoms which at first seem unrelated. The key to discovery is the increased occurrence of illnesses within a fairly close timeframe. Also, in most cases, the symptoms diminish soon after the individuals leave the particular room or building. However, in some cases, particularly in sensitive individuals or those with compromised immune systems, there can be lingering health effects.
Causes of sick building syndrome can be primarily attributed to interior and exterior chemical and biological contaminants. According to the EPA, another major contributing factors is inadequate ventilation in tightly sealed modern construction due to efforts to make buildings more energy-efficient.
Biological contaminants such as bacteria, pollen and molds may be found in stagnant water that has accumulated in ducts, humidifiers and drain pans, or where moisture has collected on ceiling tiles, carpeting or insulation.
Mold occurs naturally in the outside air and enters a building through windows, doors, vents or on clothing and pets. While visible mold should be an obvious reason for concern, mold and fungal growth can occur hidden behind paneling, underneath carpeting and behind wall boards or insulation. Certain mold types, often referred to as “toxic molds,” have been determined to be responsible for a large variety of illnesses in recent years which go beyond the scope of temporary discomfort.
If you suspect that a building is making you sick, we highly recommend contacting a licensed mold remediation professional as soon as possible. Our NYC licensed and highly trained inspectors can offer a variety of services if you suspect mold contamination in your home: