The Effect of Building-Related Illness (BRI) in Commercial Settings

Poor indoor air quality can be a contributing factor in many cases of building-related illness. Finding ways to improve the quality of indoor air can provide added protection for workers and customers in commercial environments. By taking steps to control indoor air pollution and to prevent sick building syndrome, businesses can promote the healthiest workspaces and shopping areas for their customers and employees.

What Is Sick Building Syndrome?

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), sick building syndrome can have a significant impact on the general health of those who live or work in a specific area or a specific building. Common indicators of building-related illness (BRI) include persistent coughs, muscle aches, fever, chills, and tightness of the chest. These symptoms could subside or persist after the affected person leaves the area or building.

The EPA has identified some of the known or likely causes of BRI:

  • Lack of proper ventilation can allow the buildup of contaminants and pollutants in commercial buildings, which can have a negative effect on the quality of indoor air.
  • Biological pollution sources include bacteria, fungal growths like mold, pollen and viruses. When concentrated in indoor air, these contaminants can cause health problems and can contribute to cases of BRI.
  • Chemical contaminants can originate outside the building and can enter through ventilation or HVAC system intakes. They can also be produced by products like carpeting, furnishings, cleaning materials, and office equipment inside the building.

If not remediated promptly, these indoor air pollutants can cause a number of medical issues for those exposed to these environments for an extended period of time.

Common Issues Associated With Sick Building Syndrome

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has identified a number of illnesses that are associated with poor air quality inside enclosed spaces and buildings. Some of the most common health issues reported in commercial buildings include the following:

  • Respiratory issues and irritation of mucous membranes of the sinuses, nasal passages, and throat
  • Increased frequency of headaches and fatigue reported by those who live or work in the building
  • Muscle aches and, in some cases, fever
  • Increased risks of asthma attacks, pneumonia and sinus infections

Both Pontiac Fever and Legionnaire’s Disease are associated with sick building syndrome and are caused by exposure to the Legionella bacterium inside commercial buildings.

Resolving Issues With Indoor Air Pollution

As a property owner or business manager, you can take steps to reduce air pollution and concentrated contaminants in your indoor air. Some of the best ways to address problems with BRI include the following:

  • Schedule regular maintenance with your local HVAC company. This will reduce the potential for pollutant buildup in your commercial properties and will promote the healthiest environment for your staff members.
  • Upgrade your air filter or add an in-duct air purifier to remove more particulates and contaminants from the indoor air of your building.
  • Go ductless. Ductwork can provide plenty of places for organic growth, moisture, and dust to hide. By working with your commercial HVAC services provider to convert to ductless heating and cooling, you can eliminate much of the potential for pollution in indoor air.
  • Increase ventilation. Your local HVAC company can provide you with practical solutions for ensuring that your commercial buildings receive enough fresh air to maintain a healthy environment for you, your staff members, and those who visit your offices and commercial enterprises.

At Byrum Heating & A/C, Inc., we offer commercial HVAC services designed to help you enjoy the best indoor air quality and the healthiest environment for yourself, your staff members, and your customers. Our NATE-certified technicians work with you to determine the most appropriate and practical solutions for your situation. To learn more about our full lineup of indoor air quality solutions, give us a call today. We look forward to the opportunity to serve you now and for many years to come.

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