Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bad Office Air, Not Bad Vibes, May Cause Many Symptoms Of Sick Building Syndrome, A New Cornell Study Finds

Date:
February 25, 1998
Source:
Cornell University
Summary:
Workers in poorly ventilated offices are twice as likely to report the symptoms of sick building syndrome (SBS) as are employees in a well-ventilated environment, a new Cornell University study finds.

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Workers in poorly ventilated offices are twice as likely toreport the symptoms of sick building syndrome (SBS) as are employees in awell-ventilated environment, a new Cornell University study finds.

The researchers say they find no link, however, between SBS complaints andalmost three dozen potential irritants studied, or between the syndrome andage, education, gender, general stress, positive or negative feelings or avariety of other psychological factors. They did find mild links to avariety of physical workplace problems, including sensitivity to odors,feelings of being overworked, migraines, allergies and, surprisingly,musculoskeletal problems, which indicates that ergonomic factors play arole in the syndrome.

"These results strongly suggest that symptom reports are not primarilypsychological in origin, which some researchers have suggested," saysergonomist Alan Hedge, director of the Human Factors Laboratory inCornell's College of Human Ecology and co-author of the report. "Both theworkers with very few symptoms and those with more intense symptoms show aclear pattern of increased problems by the end of the day, suggesting thatsomething is making the workers who are more sensitive feel sick," saysHedge. "They are not simply grumblers -- though nothing we've looked at sofar seems to be the sole culprit."

The study is among the first to find that a relatively small buildup ofcarbon dioxide from human respiration -- an indicator of poor ventilation-- is related to SBS. It is also the first study to compare employees insimilar work environments with no or few symptoms with those with manysymptoms by asking them to keep a daily diary for one week.

Hedge and research associate William Erickson first tested four, multistorystate office buildings in Trenton, N.J., hourly, for two to threeconsecutive days, measuring nearly 36 potential worker irritants, includinglight levels, temperature, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, relativehumidity, dust mass, carpet dust, dust mite allergens, suspendedparticulate counts, nicotine and formaldehyde.

They then collected 1,508 questionnaires from workers in the buildingsconcerning their perceptions of ambient conditions, job stresses,work-related SBS symptoms as well as personal information.

No one irritant was linked to a particular symptom, even though workers inthe study showed a clear pattern of feeling worse by the end of each day.But Hedge and Erickson found that the odds of workers reporting specificSBS symptoms were substantially higher when the carbon dioxide levels wereabove 650 parts per million.

"This suggests that SBS symptoms may be associated with buildingventilation performance," Hedge says.

Hedge has been studying SBS for more than 10 years. In 1993 he reportedthat in a study of 1,324 workers from nine buildings, SBS symptoms werelinked to the amount of man-made mineral fibers in settled office dust andnot to tobacco smoke. In 1996 he reported that the brighter the officelights, the more often workers reported problems related to lethargy,tiredness and headaches.

In this latter study, SBS seemed to be linked to such nonenvironmentalvariables as heavy computer use, gender (women report more problems), jobstress, lower job satisfaction and advancing age. Several of thesefindings, however, were not supported by the latest study.

The new study, "Sick Building Syndrome and Office Ergonomics: A TargetedWork Environment Analysis", was funded by the Center for Indoor AirResearch, Linthicum, Md.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cornell University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cornell University. "Bad Office Air, Not Bad Vibes, May Cause Many Symptoms Of Sick Building Syndrome, A New Cornell Study Finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 February 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/02/980225075622.htm>.
Cornell University. (1998, February 25). Bad Office Air, Not Bad Vibes, May Cause Many Symptoms Of Sick Building Syndrome, A New Cornell Study Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/02/980225075622.htm
Cornell University. "Bad Office Air, Not Bad Vibes, May Cause Many Symptoms Of Sick Building Syndrome, A New Cornell Study Finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/02/980225075622.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Some Positive Ebola News: Outbreak 'Contained' In Nigeria

Some Positive Ebola News: Outbreak 'Contained' In Nigeria

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) The CDC says a new case of Ebola has not been reported in Nigeria for more than 21 days, leading to hopes the outbreak might be nearing its end. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN Ebola Mission Head: Immediate Action Is Crucial

UN Ebola Mission Head: Immediate Action Is Crucial

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) The newly appointed head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), Anthony Banbury, outlines operations to tackle the virus. Duration: 00:39 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Confirms First Case of Ebola in US

CDC Confirms First Case of Ebola in US

AP (Sep. 30, 2014) The CDC has confirmed the first diagnosed case of Ebola in the United States. The patient is being treated at a Dallas hospital after traveling earlier this month from Liberia. (Sept. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Breast Cancer Drug Extends Lives In Clinical Trial

New Breast Cancer Drug Extends Lives In Clinical Trial

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) In a clinical trial, breast cancer patients lived an average of 15 months longer when they received new drug Perjeta along with Herceptin. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins