Sick building syndrome sometimes referred to as tight building syndrome is a term that was developed from the ill effects building occupants incur because of poor indoor air quality. Although there is not one specific disease that is solely attributed to (SBS). Ill health and loss of employee productivity is a major concern of poor indoor air quality.
- eye, nose or throat irritation
- dry cough, dry or itching skin
- difficulty in concentration
- sensitivity to odors
- hoarseness of voice
- cold, flu-like symptoms
- increased incidence of asthma
- shortness of breath on mild exertion
- pregnancy problems and miscarriages
- Legionnaire’s disease
- humidifier fever
- pneumonia and occupational asthma
- chest pain
Outside Sources: External air contaminants such as vehicle exhaust, ventilation ducts, and exhausts can enter the building through air vents, windows or by other means. Secondary combustible products can enter the building through nearby sources. Formaldehyde, radon, asbestos, dust and lead paint can enter the structure through various means.
Indoor Sources: The most common indoor air contaminants include volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The main sources of VOCs include carpets, tapestries, copiers, manufactured wood products, pesticides and cleaning agents. Environmental tobacco smoke, adhesives, breathable particles, combustion products from the stove, fireplace and unheated heater also increase chemical contamination.
Biological contaminants include pollen, fungi molds, bacteria, and fungi. These bio-contaminants can grow in stagnant water that has been accumulated in humidifiers, drains or anywhere that moisture has infiltrated fabrics of insulation.
Bird and insect droppings is yet another source of bio-contamination. This type of pollutant can cause fever, chills, coughing, chest tightness, muscle aches, and allergic reactions. When workers are assembled in tight quarter’s airborne illnesses can be rapidly spread from one person to another. Air conditioning systems can further exacerbate the problem by recirculating the polluted air throughout the building.
The oil embargo of 1973, pressed construction firms to create buildings more airtight, and with less ventilation to improve overall energy efficiency. The result has been that there is now less CFM per person in buildings than ventilation rates recommended by current ASHRAE 62.1-2016 standards.
Furthermore, the poor performance of existing HVAC units along with filters not being replaced as maintenance schedule recommends making the problem worse.
Microwaves, TVs, and computers emit electromagnetic radiation that ionizes the air. Electrical cables, without proper grounding, also create powerful magnetic fields that have been linked to cancer.
PREVENTION AND CONTROL
Today’s commercial buildings are designed and built with energy efficiency in mind. New construction techniques and materials used for the shell of the building minimize heat gains and losses and prevent the unwanted infiltration of moisture-laden outside air from entering the space, thereby decreasing the cost of space conditioning.
To maintain the latest ASHRAE ventilation requirements, owners/operators of commercial buildings generally have to depend on up-sized packaged rooftop HVAC systems not only to condition the recirculating air but to also bring in fresh OA to meet IAQ requirements. This results in larger equipment investments and higher operating costs.
A simpler, more effective solution is a 100% dedicated outside air system (DOAS) from United CoolAir Corporation working in conjunction with a sensible heating/cooling system. United CoolAir Corporation’s Alpha Aire, OmegaAir, and Modulaire 100% outside air units are stand-alone systems designed to meet the OA requirements for today and years to come. Traditional HVAC systems are designed primarily to handle design sensible loads and are not adequately designed for the high latent loads produced by outside air. The UCA DOAS units are designed to exclusively handle the large latent ventilation load and deliver “neutral” air of 72°F to 75°F @ 50% RH. DOAS units supply air dew point design temperature is lower than standard air conditioners to remove the maximum amount of moisture before delivery to the space.
By separating the sensible load from the latent load, the Outside air unit removes the moisture from its primary source—fresh outdoor ventilation air—at the lowest cost. Units can further assist the main space-conditioning unit by handling some of the smaller internally generated amounts of latent and sensible loads that naturally build from occupants and other sources. The result is better IAQ at a lower cost and healthier buildings.