Combatting Sick Building Syndrome With Good Air Quality

P1000968Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) is a common complaint in modern buildings – particularly of the office variety – causing building occupants to display a range of symptoms, including dry or itchy skin, eyes, nose or throats, headaches, lethargy and poor concentration. Bought on by a host of factors, such as poor lighting, bad room layout and inadequate temperature control, one of the main contributors to SBS is inadequate Indoor Air Quality (IAQ); an issue that can arise from sub-standard air movement and ventilation.

Bad for business
SBS can cause loss of productivity, unhappiness amongst staff and in the worst case scenario, days off work. In the healthcare environment it is even more of an issue, potentially exacerbating the ill health of guests and residents.

Sick Building Syndrome causes
SBS is usually a cumulative result of a range of problems:
• Poor hygiene
• Inadequate lighting
• Bad workspace layout
• Lack of individual control when it comes to temperature
• Poor air quality

Improving Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
To ensure IAQ is of a high standard, ventilation systems must be in good working order. Natural ventilation is always preferable, but where this is not an option, mechanical means will be required. If Air Handling Units (AHUs) are in anyway compromised by poor operation due to lack of maintenance, and/or clogging as a result of external debris (pollen, leaves, dust) not only will the IAQ be compromised, the system will also lose efficiency and therefore cost more money to run.

SBS ventilation essentials
The HSE recommends the following to help ensure building ‘health’ in terms of ventilation:
• A minimum fresh-air flow of 8 litres per second per person
• An area with an air flow velocity in excess of 0.25 to 0.35 metres per second should be considered as draughty
• An area with an air flow velocity of 0.1 metres per second is stagnant
• Unless temperatures are extreme, air velocities should normally be in the region of 0.1 to 0.15 metres per second and 0.25 metres during the summer
• Rooms housing office machinery should have separate extract ventilation
• Air inlets for the ventilation system should be sited to avoid introducing pollution from outside the building.

Keeping air handling equipment efficient and healthy
To help prevent SBS and ensure efficiency, ECEX Air Intake Screens, fitted externally to the air intake, provide a great solution. Simple and cost-effective, the screens trap airborne debris, preventing it from clogging filters and compromising IAQ. This debris is then wiped off at intervals, a much easier maintenance task than unclogging internal filters and considerably less costly than replacing them.

For more information, speak to one of our experts:
Call: 01635 244 100

*Online survey of 1,082 employees between 8-10th March 2013