Building Illness Impacts 30% of Workers

The problem of "Building Illness" is more common than most people realize.  Reportedly, about 30% of workers are affected by a reaction at work, but the probability that even more people are impacted by building related health problems.  While the classic building illness symptoms are notable reaction while in a problematic building, some lesser issues can be itchy eyes, sneezing, and even an curious rash.

To understand building illness, we need to consider two related measurements.  The first is the toxic bioload of the building.  As you might expect, some buildings are less concerning and other buildings are serious threats.  The second factor is the toleration level of the person.  Some people have a low level of toxic toleration while others could walk through a cesspool of pollutions and be unaffected ... for now.

The National Air Quality Institute has stated that "All buildings are toxic or polluted and they are getting worse every day."   This may seem like an overstatement, but we must take under consideration the multitude of product we bring into the enclosed environment of a building.  Buildings are pollution traps that can be routinely cleaned but rarely healthy.  

For example, consider the work it takes to keep diseases from spreading in hospitals.  Regardless of making every effort to sanitize and clean the entire building, people are constantly entering the building.  And, these patients and visitors carry diseases.  The disease may be as simple as a cold or as serious as meningitis.  That means that even though the intent of hospitals is to make sick people healthy, the buildings are constantly infused with a fresh batch of pathogens every day.

Likewise, no matter now clean a building may be, it is likely to be a health concern, whether great or small.  Because buildings are pollution traps, they collect more than dust, dirt, and debris; but these noticeable problems are not all that should concern us.  Buildings accumulate chemicals, pollution, and toxic conditions.  From another view, building can be infectious threats because of the latest disease going around.

Every building requires hundreds of gallons of cleaning products be brought in.  They are routinely treated for pests.  Fragrances are used to make the building smell better.  Even the furniture, carpet, and building products are offgassing fumes called VOCs.  Mold and mildew can be happening in some dark recessed area with the mold spores being passed around the building by the 
HVAC system.  Even when the trash is taken out and the wastewater poured down the drain, the building retains more and more residual toxins and pollution year after year.

So, on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 is the worse), let's say that a building is rated at a 5 level of toxicity.

In that workplace there are some people with strong immune systems.  They would be a 7 or 8 immunity level, so they are not affected by the level of toxicity in the building.  But, may experience dry or itchy eyes on occasions.  

In that same workplace is an older woman with health issues, a man with allergies and asthma, and a middle-aged woman with chemical sensitivities.  We will say that these less-resilient people range about 3-5 in their level of immunity or toleration.  These people are experiencing more health problems than the majority of people in the building.  The healthier people will probably ignore and discount the problems of the less healthy people because they are feeling okay.

So, the calculis for any person is two-sided calculation.  When NAQI says that every building is polluted or toxic, that is actually correct.  The level of toxicity and the vulnerabilities of the workers is often an unknown.  This unknown puts the vulnerable people at a huge disadvantage.  And, the truth is that these concerns can be easily resolved.

Detoxification and decontamination of a building is what we call Level Three cleaning.  Level one is your typical cleaning and sanitizing program which may actually contribute to the toxic buildup depending on the product the cleaning crew use.  Level two cleaning is  a specialty type of service often referred to as "Remediation" where target problems are solved.  

Level three services look beyond the need for cleaning or the special problems of odors or mold.  Level three services can diagnose and treat more complex IAQ issues.  The IAQ Specialist training program will enable typical service providers to step up to Level three services.