Sick Building Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes and Prevention


What is sick building syndrome? The term is used to describe when occupants inside a building experience health problems and acute discomfort that is linked to a building’s environment. The complainants may be localized in a particular area or may be widespread throughout the building.

Sick Building Syndrome Symptoms  


Sick building syndrome symptoms include eye irritation, dry cough, chest tightness, skin irritation, fatigue and increased sensitivity to odors. These symptoms reduce work efficiency and increase absenteeism. Most of the complainants report relief from illness soon after leaving the building.


What are the Causes of Sick Building Syndrome?


The following are some of the contributing factors of what causes sick building syndrome:

Outdoor pollutants: Contaminants such as vehicle exhaust and dust can enter buildings through poorly located air intake vents.

Indoor pollutants: Industrial products or chemicals such as adhesives, carbon monoxide, pesticides, formaldehyde, and unvented space heaters can cause SBS.

Biological contaminants: Biological contaminants including pollen, bacteria, viruses, fungus and molds can breed in stagnant water that has accumulated in humidifiers, plumbing vents and ducts or where water has collected on ceiling tiles, insulation, carpeting and upholstery.  

Poor ventilation systems: In the 1970s, efforts to conserve energy in the U.S. for environmental protection included tightening up buildings and reducing ventilation rates so buildings didn’t have to bring as much fresh air inside. This inadvertently led to a buildup of indoor pollutants and spread of disease in buildings with high occupancy. Sick building syndrome is still an issue in some buildings today.


“Common health impacts include increased allergies and asthma from exposure to indoor pollutants, particularly those associated with building dampness and mold, colds and other infectious diseases that are transferred through the air, and sick building syndrome symptoms due to elevated indoor pollutant levels as well as other indoor environmental conditions.” –


How You Can Prevent Sick Building Syndrome


If you have ever experienced sick building syndrome after being cooped up inside a building with stale and stagnant air, you are aware of how that can negatively affect productivity. In contrast, if you have worked in a building that has good air movement and ventilation, you can find yourself being more motivated, productive and collaborative.

MacroAir’s large commercial ceiling fans work by thermally equalizing a space, which means the fans move air throughout a building in the most efficient way possible. The end result is a gentle breeze that circulates the air, improving comfort and indoor air quality. This puts less demand on HVAC systems, reduces humidity and most importantly makes the occupants of a building feel more comfortable providing relief from sick building syndrome.

Biological contaminants: Increased air movement from MacroAir large industrial fans helps remove excessive concentrations of bacteria, viruses, fungi (including molds).

Chemical pollutants: Large industrial fans can help remove chemical pollutants including emissions from products typically used in warehouses.


How Air Movement Improves Indoor Air Quality – MacroAir Fans


Properly managing indoor air quality isn’t just about being comfortable, it’s also about long term health and occupational safety. By utilizing large industrial fans, you can greatly reduce the air pollution that is present in many indoor work environments.

See which large industrial fan is perfect for your facility:


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Have you ever felt the effects of SBS in your building? What have you done to reduce or prevent SBS in your facility?  Leave your comment below.

Patrick Munar