How Is Sick Building Syndrome Treated?

Solutions to Sick Building Syndrome

Solutions to sick building syndrome usually include combinations of the following:
  • Removing or modifying sources of pollution
  • Increasing ventilation rates
  • Air cleaning
  • Education and communication.
Removing or Modifying Sources of Pollution
Removing or modifying the source of pollution is an effective approach to resolving sick building syndrome when sources are known and control is feasible. Examples include:
  • Routine maintenance of HVAC systems (such as periodically cleaning or replacing filters)
  • Replacement of water-stained ceiling tiles and carpeting
  • Institution of smoking restrictions
  • Venting contaminant source emissions to the outdoors
  • Storage and use of paints, adhesives, solvents, and pesticides in well-ventilated areas, and use of these pollutant sources during periods of non-occupancy
  • Allowing time for building materials in new or remodeled areas to off-gas pollutants before occupancy.
Several of these options may be exercised at one time as a sick building syndrome solution.
Increasing Ventilation Rates
Increasing ventilation rates and air distribution often can be a cost-effective means of reducing indoor pollutant levels. HVAC systems should be designed, at a minimum, to meet ventilation standards in local building codes; however, many systems are not operated or maintained to ensure that these design ventilation rates are provided. In many buildings, indoor air quality can be improved by operating the HVAC system to at least its design standard and to ASHRAE Standard 62-1989, if possible.
When there are strong pollutant sources, local exhaust ventilation may be appropriate to exhaust contaminated air directly from the building. Local exhaust ventilation is particularly recommended to remove pollutants that accumulate in specific areas, such as restrooms, copy rooms, and printing facilities.
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