Combatting Sick Building Syndrome: Improving Indoor Air Quality and Ventilation

27th October 2015
Sick Building Syndrome

Many UK buildings, particularly of the office variety, are suffering from Sick Building Syndrome (SBS), which causes a host of symptoms to occupants, including dry or itchy skin, eyes, nose or throats, headaches, lethargy and poor concentration. For employers, these symptoms can result in loss of productivity and even time off work. In the healthcare environment, such as hospitals or care homes, preventing SBS is even more important.

One of the key causes of SBS is poor indoor air quality (IAQ), so ensuring ventilation systems are efficient and in good working in order is essential to the prevention of SBS, with ductwork cleaning, particularly in commercial kitchens key to removing airborne pathogens, while also preventing fire risk.

A properly functioning ventilation system should deliver air of a suitable quality in a sufficient quantity in order to create a healthy and comfortable internal space. Airborne pollutants should be diluted and removed, including odours, fumes and dust. Temperature and humidity must be comfortable, with stagnation and draughts prevented. Where natural ventilation is not an option, a mechanical system will be required.

Ventilation essentials

  • 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.

For more information about our Air Hygiene services, click here.