Up to 30 percent of new and remodeled buildings in Wichita, Kansas, may be the subject of complaints related to indoor air quality.
The term “sick building syndrome” (SBS) is used to describe situations in which building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building, but no specific illness or cause can be identified. The complaints may be localized in a particular room or zone, or may be widespread throughout the building. In contrast, the term “building related illness” (BRI) is used when symptoms of diagnosable illness are identified and can be attributed directly to airborne building contaminants.
A 1984 World Health Organization Committee report suggested that up to 30 percent of new and remodeled buildings worldwide may be the subject of excessive complaints related to indoor air quality (IAQ). Often this condition is temporary, but some buildings in Wichita, Kansas, continue to have long-term problems. Frequently, problems result when a building is operated or maintained in a manner that is inconsistent with its original design or prescribed operating procedures. At other times, indoor air problems are a result of poor building design or occupant activities.
Indicators of SBS include:
• Building occupants complain of symptoms associated with acute discomfort, e.g., headache; eye, nose, or throat irritation; dry cough; dry or itchy skin; dizziness and nausea; difficulty in concentrating; fatigue; and sensitivity to odors.
• The cause of the symptoms is not known.
• Most of the complainants report relief soon after leaving the building.
Causes of Sick Building Syndrome
In many cases in Wichita, Kansas, outdoor air ventilation rates are found to be inadequate to maintain the health and comfort of building occupants. Inadequate ventilation, which may also occur if heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems do not effectively distribute air to people in the building, is thought to be an important factor in SBS.
Chemical contaminants from indoor sources:
Most indoor air pollution in Wichita, Kansas, comes from sources inside the building. For example, adhesives, carpeting, upholstery, manufactured wood products, copy machines, pesticides, and cleaning agents may emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a spectrum of chemicals including such agents as formaldehyde. Environmental tobacco smoke also contributes to high levels of VOCs, other toxic compounds, and respirable particulate matter.
Chemical contaminants from outdoor sources:
In Wichita, Kansas, the outdoor air that enters a building can be a source of indoor air pollution. For example, pollutants from motor vehicle exhausts, plumbing vents, and building exhausts (e.g., bathrooms and kitchens) can enter the building through poorly located air intake vents, windows, and other openings. In addition, combustion products can enter a building from a nearby garage.
Bacteria, molds, pollen, and viruses are types of biological contaminants found in Wichita, Kansas. These contaminants may breed in stagnant water that has accumulated in ducts, humidifiers, and drain pans, or where water has collected on ceiling tiles, carpeting, or insulation. Sometimes insects or bird droppings can be a source of biological contaminants. Physical symptoms related to biological contamination include cough, chest tightness, fever, chills, muscle aches, and allergic responses such as mucous membrane irritation and upper respiratory congestion. One indoor bacterium, Legionella, has been known to cause both Legionnaire’s Disease and Pontiac Fever.
In Kansas, it can be hard for business owners to determine what might be the problem. Whether you are in a Wichita, Kansas industrial park, at Salina, Kansas downtown, in Newton, Kansas medical facilities, or even the Hutchinson, Kansas rural area, FreshCo has the tools and training to identify issues and help you deal with them effectively. Don’t let the situation get worse. Find out how we can help by calling today!
“They were so helpful in giving advice and following through. They bent over backwards to do everything that needed to be done for me. Everything was done in a very timely fashion and I really appreciated that they came back in and checked to make sure there was no mold in the house to make me sick again.”
— Mary K. in Hutchinson, Kansas