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What is sick building syndrome?

Like many Michigan employees, you are probably used to the occasional workplace cold. However, sometimes it may be your building, not your coworkers, which gets you sick. This is called sick building syndrome.

Sick building syndrome is not a disease but a name for symptoms you may experience at your workplace. The Environmental Illness Resource says that these symptoms can include fatigue, headaches and a cough. Some people also experience odor sensitivity and concentration problems. You may sometimes have symptoms which do not seem to be connected to each other. Sick building syndrome can be found in schools and other buildings which usually house large numbers of people, but most cases are seen at office buildings.

You might have sick building syndrome if you usually feel ill at work, but not at home. Another sign is similar symptoms in your colleagues. Sometimes the source of your symptoms may be easily found. Ventilation system maintenance is a common factor in some cases of sick building syndrome, and the way a building is designed can also affect your health. The quality of an office’s air may be a problem in 30 percent of buildings that are either renovated or new. This might be because some harmful organic chemicals are sometimes found in building materials.

Because sick building syndrome can include many symptoms, especially if many of your coworkers are also ill, it can sometimes be difficult to tell if your workplace is indeed the cause. Some illnesses may stem from contaminants, and be related to conditions which can be diagnosed. If you suspect that your building is making you sick, it is best to speak to your supervisors, as they can help conduct an investigation into the health of your workplace. 

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