Text Size

Site Search powered by Ajax

Sick Building Syndrome

Sick Building Syndrome


This is a growing problem of our modern age, as buildings are sealed more efficiently, contain more synthetic materials and chemicals which is further compounded by occupying them more quickly than ever before.

The first occupants seem to experience the worst symptoms, during the early phase. Sometimes a specific item can be identified and replaced, such as the carpeting.

Paint can be replaced, or the building can be left unoccupied while the problem materials "out-gas" and fresh air can circulate.


The problem seems to be a subjective mix of several factors, including a chemical given off by a product, such as carpeting, together with a lack of natural ventilation and a number of sensitive persons.

A significant number of people must be affected by common symptoms, before a building can be held responsible.

In some instances, these symptoms may only appear while at work and are relieved at home, or upon leaving the building for lunch at a nearby park.

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms may include: fatigue, headaches, dry, itching eyes and irritation of the nose and throat. Similar to other forms of allergy.

A new functional malaise, described as “brain fog”, is experienced by some people and attributed to elelctromagnetic fields from electrical devices, wiring and computers etc.

Nutritional Supplements

Structure & Function: Immune System Support

General Supplements

Vitamin B Complex100 mg
Vitamin C3,000 - 5,000 mg
Vitamin E400 IU

*Please refer to the respective topic for specific nutrient amounts.


All amounts are in addition to those supplements having a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). Due to individual needs, one must always be aware of a possible undetermined effect when taking nutritional supplements. If any disturbances from the use of a particular supplement should occur, stop its use immediately and seek the care of a qualified health care professional.

Dietary Considerations

Purified water is essential.

The principles of a macro-biotic diet may be beneficial, especially in the early stages.

Liquid foods, including green drinks, may be well tolerated.

Homeopathic Remedy

Homeopathy, of course, treats the patient and their symptoms, rather than a diagnostic label.

Typically, symptoms may be consistent with an allergy, or chemical sensitivity.

General indications include:

Apis Mellifica
Mercurius Vivus
Nux vomica
Pulsatilla nigricans (female patients, especially)

Treatment Schedule

Over-the-counter homeopathic remedies may be single strength (of fairly weak potency e.g. 6X) or a blend of several weaker strengths (6X, 8X, 10X).

This may comprise a single remedy, or several remedies.

Doses are administered on a 3 times daily (tid), between meals,schedule and continued for 3 days.

Liquid preparations usually use 8-10 drops per dose.

Solid preparations are usually 2 or 3 pellets per dose.

Children use 1/2 dose i.e. 1 pellet.

If there is aggravation of the symptoms, stop taking the remedy and consult a homeopath.


Murphy, R. : Homeopathic Medical Repertory. Hahneman Academy, Pagosa Springs, Colorado. 1993.

Murphy, R. : Lotus Materia Medica. Hahneman Academy, Pagosa Springs, Colorado. 1995.

Pert, J.C.: Homeopathy for the Family. The Homoeopathic Development Foundation, London. 1985 edition.

Herbal Approaches


Grape Seed extract
Green tea
Milk Thistle

Note: The misdirected use of an herb can produce severely adverse effects, especially in combination with prescription drugs. This Herbal information is for educational purposes and is not intended as a replacement for medical advice.

Aromatherapy - Essential Oils

Selection depends upon several factors e.g. presenting symptoms, acute or chronic stage etc.

If the source can be identified: carpeting, glues, processed woods, paint etc. it should be removed, if possible.

Some essential oils, relative to symptoms includes:

Dry, itchy eyesTea Tree Essence.
Dry throatGrapefruit Essence or Lemon Essence.
HeadachesLavender Essence.
LethargyEucalyptus Essence, Grapefruit or Lemon Essence.
Stuffy noseRosemary Essence or
Tea Tree Essence.

In a hospital, or an office with a number of people with contagious diseases, the following list could be reviewed:

Cinnamon Essence,Clove Essence,Eucalyptus Essence,
Ginger Essence,Grapefruit Essence,Juniper Essence,
Lavender Essence,Lime Essence,Pine Essence,
Niaouli Essence,Thyme Essence.

A general list:

Aniseed Essence,Cajeput Essence,
Eucalyptus Essence,Garlic Essence,
Hyssop Essence,Lavender Essence,
Lemon Essence,Marjoram Essence,
Niaouli Essence,Onion Essence,
Oregano Essence,Peppermint Essence,
Pine Essence,Rosemary Essence,
Sage Essence,Savory Essence,
Thyme Essence.

The electromagnetic hazards of computers and monitors etc. may be negated by the following oils:

Bergamot Essence,Cedarwood Essence,
Cypress Essence,Grapefruit Essence,
Lemon Essence,Orange Essence,
Patchouli Essence,Petitgrain Essence,
Rosewood Essence,Sandalwood Essence.

Related Health Conditions

Bites & Stings
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Food Allergy



Ahearn-DG et al: Fungal colonization of fiberglass insulation in the air distribution system of a multi-story office building: VOC production and possible relationship to a sick building syndrome. J-Ind-Microbiol. 1996 May; 16(5): 280-5.

Anonymous: Building and Home-Related Complaints and Illnesses: Sick Building Syndrome. Conference proceedings. Lake Buena Vista, Florida, December 3-5, 1992. J Allergy Clin. Immunol. 1994 Aug; 94(2 Pt 2): 275-424

Anonymous: Nurses ill due to poor air quality at Brigham & Women's Hospital. Mass. Nurse 1994 Sep; 64(8): 1, 6-7.

Anonymous: Sick-building syndrome: is breathing an occupational hazard at your hospital? Hospital-Employee-Health. 1995 May; 14(5): 57-9, 62-3.

Anonymous: Outbreak of unexplained illness in a middle school--Washington, April 1994. MMWR. 1996 Jan 12; 45(1): 6-9.

Anonymous: Molds, fungi cause sick building syndrome [news]. Occup. Health Saf. 1996 Jan; 65(1): 13-4.

Anonymous: From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Outbreak of unexplained illness--Washington, 1994. JAMA. 1996 Feb 21; 275(7): 511

Appleby-PH: ABC of work related disorders. Building related illnesses. BMJ. 1996 Sep 14; 313(7058): 674-7.

Apter-A: Epidemiology of the sick building syndrome. J Allergy Clin. Immunol. 1994 Aug; 94(2 Pt 2): 277-88.

Atkins-EH: Sick building syndrome [letter]. JAMA. 1996 Jun 5; 275(21): 1634-5.

Bachmann-MO & Myers-JE: Influences on sick building syndrome symptoms in three buildings. Soc-Sci-Med. 1995 Jan; 40(2): 245-51.

Bachmann-MO: Sick building symptoms in office workers: a follow-up study before and one year after changing buildings. Occup-Med-Oxf. 1995 Feb; 45(1): 11-5.

Berney, B.W., Light, E.N., Bennett, A.C. "Medical Evaluation of 'Building Related' Symptoms". Proceedings of the Seventh Annual Hazardous Materials Management Conference International. 1989.

Bourbeau-J: Prevalence of the sick building syndrome symptoms in office workers before and after being exposed to a building with an improved ventilation system. Occup-Environ-Med. 1996 Mar; 53(3): 204-10.

Bourbeau J et al., Prevalence of the sick building syndrome symptoms in office workers before and six months and three years after being exposed to a building with an improved ventilation system. Occup Environ Med, 1997 Jan, 54:1, 49-53.

Bradley-KL et al: Re: Sick building syndrome: medical evaluation of two work forces [letter] J-Occup-Environ-Med. 1995 Jun; 37(6): 661-2.

Brenniman-GR & Allen-RJ: Impact of repackaging hazardous (infectious) hospital waste on the indoor air quality of a hospital. Sci-Total-Environ. 1993 Jan 29; 128(2-3): 141-9.

Burge, S. et al. 1987. "Sick Building Syndrome: A Study of 4373 Office Workers". Ann. Occupational Hygiene. 31: 493-504.

Carey-J: Beware "sick-building syndrome": the deadliest pollutants of all may be the ones you breathe at home or at work Newsweek 1985 Jan 7; 105(1): 58-60.

Chandrakumar-M: An investigation into sick building syndrome among local authority employees. Ann-Occup-Hyg. 1994 Oct; 38(5): 789-99.

Chang-CC: The sick building syndrome. I. Definition and epidemiological considerations. J-Asthma. 1993; 30(4): 285-95.

Chang-CC: Building components contributors of the sick building syndrome. J-Asthma. 1994; 31(2): 127-37.

Chester-AC; Levine-PH: Concurrent sick building syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome: epidemic neuromyasthenia revisited. Clin-Infect-Dis. 1994 Jan; 18 Suppl 1: S43-8.

Chester-AC: Sick-building syndrome fatigue as a possible predation defense. Integr-Physiol-Behav-Sci. 1995 Jan-Mar; 30(1): 68-83.

Chester AC & Levine PH: The natural history of concurrent sick building syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome. J Psychiatr Res, 1997 Jan-Feb, 31:1, 51-7.

Chew-GL: House dust mite allergen [letter]. Am-Ind-Hyg-Assoc-J. 1996 Jun; 57(6): 573-4.

Davidoff-AL; Keyl-PM: Symptoms and health status in individuals with multiple chemical sensitivities syndrome from four reported sensitizing exposures and a general population comparison group. Arch-Environ-Health. 1996 May-Jun; 51(3): 201-13.

Dryson-EW: Rates of sick building type symptoms in New Zealand offices [letter] N-Z-Med-J. 1996 May 10; 109(1021): 173.

Edelman-PA & Hethmon-T: Sick building syndrome [letter; comment]. NEJM. 1993 Aug 12; 329(7): 503; discussion 504.

Engel-J: Recurrent afebrile flulike symptoms. JAMA. 1996 Feb 21; 275(7): 514.

Englert-N: [Indoor air pollution, the sick building syndrome]. Pneumologie. 1994 Aug; 48(8): 532-6.

Ezeonu-IM: Fungal production of volatiles during growth on fiberglass. Appl-Environ-Microbiol. 1994 Nov; 60(11): 4172-3.

Finnegan, M.J. et al. 1984. "The Sick Building Syndrome Prevalence Studies". Brit. Medical Journal. 289: 1573-1575.

Franco-G: New trends in occupational and environmental diseases: the role of the occupational hygienist in recognizing lung diseases. Monaldi-Arch-Chest-Dis. 1994 Jun; 49(3): 239-42.

Franck-C et al: Prevalence of objective eye manifestations in people working in office buildings with different prevalences of the sick building syndrome compared with the general population. Int-Arch-Occup-Environ-Health. 1993; 65(1): 65-9.

Garvey-J: Sick building syndrome: developing an integrated approach to SBS Occupational-Health:-A-Journal-for-Occupational-Health-Nurses (London). 1994 Feb; 46(2): 50, 52-3. (6 ref 5 bib)

Gilbert AN et al., Sex differences in task performance associated with attention to ambient odor. Arch Environ Health, 1997 May-Jun, 52:3, 195-9.

Hedge, A. "Work-Related Illness In Offices: A Proposed Model of the Sick Building Syndrome". Env. Int. 15: 143-158.

Hein-HO: [A stink bomb in an office environment. Sick building syndrome with toxic rhinitis after exposure to fusel]. Ugeskr-Laeger. 1993 Jan 4; 155(1): 30-2.

Hodgson-M et al: Volatile organic compounds and indoor air. J-Allergy-Clin-Immunol. 1994 Aug; 94(2 Pt 2): 296-303.

Hodgson-M; Storey-E: Patients and the sick building syndrome. J-Allergy-Clin-Immunol. 1994 Aug; 94(2 Pt 2): 335-43.

Hodgson-M: The sick-building syndrome. Occup-Med. 1995, 10(1): 167-75.

Hodgson, V.S. et al. 1986. "The Sick Building Syndrome". In: Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Indoor Air Quality and Climate, Vol. 6. Evaluations and Conclusions for Health Sciences and Technology, pp. 87-97. Swedish Council for Building Research. Stockholm, Sweden.

Hoppe-PR: Indoor climate. Experientia. 1993 Sep 15; 49(9): 775-9.

Horvath EP: Building-related illness and sick building syndrome: from the specific to the vague. Cleve Clin J Med, 1997 Jun, 64:6, 303-9.

Husman-T: Health effects of indoor-air microorganisms [see comments]. Scand-J-Work-Environ-Health. 1996 Feb; 22(1): 5-13.

Jaakkola-JJ et al: Air recirculation and sick building syndrome: a blinded crossover trial [see comments]. Am-J-Public-Health. 1994 Mar; 84(3): 422-8.

Jaakkola-JJ: Textile wall materials and sick building syndrome. Arch-Environ-Health. 1994 May-Jun; 49(3): 175-81.

Jaakkola-JJ & Miettinen-P: Type of ventilation system in office buildings and sick building syndrome. Am-J-Epidemiol. 1995 Apr 15; 141(8): 755-65.

Jaakkola-JJ; Miettinen-P: Ventilation rate in office buildings and sick building syndrome. Occup-Environ-Med. 1995 Nov; 52(11): 709-14.

Jarvis-BB et al: Toxigenic molds in water-damaged buildings: dechlorogriseofulvins from Memnoniella echinata. J-Nat-Prod. 1996 Jun; 59(6): 553-4.

References K - Z

Keleher-KC: Primary care for women: environmental assessment of the home, community, and workplace. Journal-of-Nurse-Midwifery 1995 Mar-Apr; 40(2): 88-96, 59-64. (42 ref)

Keller-R; Beckert-J: [The occurrence of organic volatile compounds in a sample room of a new building in relation to the "natural" air exchange]. Zentralbl-Hyg-Umweltmed. 1994 Jun; 195(5-6): 432-43.

Kerbel-W: Indoor air quality. Taking a second look at blueprints. Occup-Health-Saf. 1995 Jan; 64(1): 47-9, 72.

Kreiss, K. 1989. "The Epidemiology of Building-Related Complaints and Illness". 572-592. In: Problem Buildings: Building-Associated Illness and the Sick Building Syndrome. Cone, J. E., Hodgson, M.E., eds. Hanley and Belfus, Inc., Philadelphia.

Letters; comments on Sick building syndrome in: NEJM. 1993, 329(7): 503-4

Li CS et al., Indoor pollution and sick building syndrome symptoms among workers in day-care centers. Arch Environ Health, 1997 May-Jun, 52:3, 200-7.

Little-SP et al: Worksite indoor air quality management. AAOHN-Journal. 1994 Jun; 42(6): 277-83, 296-9. (2 ref)

Lundberg-A: Psychiatric aspects of air pollution. Otolaryngol-Head-Neck-Surg. 1996 Feb; 114(2): 227-31.

Magnavita-N: Management of indoor air quality problems: "primum non nocere" [letter]. Occup-Environ-Med. 1995 Nov; 52(11): 782.

Marron-S: Hospital air = chemical soup. Oregon-Nurse (OREG-NURSE) 1995 Sep; 60(3): 15.

Martin-JR: The sensitive individual and the indoor environment: case study. Am-Ind-Hyg-Assoc-J. 1995 Nov; 56(11): 1121-6.

Martin-M: Occupational injuries, illness affect 1 in 13 Canadians. Can-Med-Assoc-J. 1995 Dec 15; 153(12): 1782-3.

McCunney, R.J. "The Role of Building Construction and Ventilation in Indoor Air Pollution". New York State Journal of Medicine. April 1987. pp. 203-209.

McDonald-JC: Sick building syndrome in a Canadian office complex. Arch-Environ-Health. 1993 Sep-Oct; 48(5): 298-304.

Meggs-WJ: Neurogenic inflammation and sensitivity to environmental chemicals. Environ-Health-Perspect. 1993 Aug; 101(3): 234-8.

Meggs-WJ: RADS and RUDS--the toxic induction of asthma and rhinitis. J-Toxicol-Clin-Toxicol. 1994; 32(5): 487-501.

Meggs-WJ: Neurogenic switching: a hypothesis for a mechanism for shifting the site of inflammation in allergy and chemical sensitivity. Environ-Health-Perspect. 1995 Jan; 103(1): 54-6.

Mendell, M.J., Smith, A.H. "Consistent Pattern of Elevated Symptoms in Air-Conditioned Office Buildings: A Reanalysis of Epidemiologic Studies". American Journal of Public Health. 80: 1193-1199.

Menzies-R: The effect of varying levels of outdoor-air supply on the symptoms of sick building syndrome [see comments]. N-Engl-J-Med. 1993 Mar 25; 328(12): 821-7.

Metso-T: Serum myeloperoxidase and sick building syndrome [letter]. Lancet. 1993 Jul 10; 342(8863): 113-4.

Mikatavage-MA et al: Beyond air quality--factors that affect prevalence estimates of sick building syndrome. Am-Ind-Hyg-Assoc-J. 1995 Nov; 56(11): 1141-6.

Molina, C. et al. 1989. "Sick Building Syndrome - A Practical Guide". Report No. 4. Commission of the European Communities. Brussels, Luxembourg.

Molina-C; Molina-N: [Air quality of premises and public health]. Bull-Acad-Natl-Med. 1994 Jan; 178(1): 47-55; discussion 55-6.

Montgomery-MR; Reasor-MJ: A toxicologic approach for evaluating cases of sick building syndrome or multiple chemical sensitivity. J-Allergy-Clin-Immunol. 1994 Aug; 94(2 Pt 2): 371-5.

Morell-F: [Sick building syndrome (diseases related with buildings (editorial)]. Med-Clin-Barc. 1994 Oct 22; 103(13): 496-7.

Neuhann-HF et al: [Evaluation of the use of an environmental medicine consulting center]. Zentralbl-Hyg-Umweltmed. 1994 Apr; 195(4): 342-56.

Norback, D. et al. 1990. "Indoor Air Quality and Personal Factors Related to the Sick Building Syndrome". Scan. J. Work Environmental Health. 16: 121-128.

Norback, D. et al. 1990. "Volatile Organic Compounds, Respirable Dust, and Personal Factors Related to the Prevalence and Incidence of the Sick Building Syndrome in Primary Schools". Brit J Ind. Med.. 47: 733-774.

Nordstrom-K et al: Effect of air humidification on the sick building syndrome and perceived indoor air quality in hospitals: a four month longitudinal study. Occup-Environ-Med. 1994 Oct; 51(10): 683-8.

Nordstrom-K et al: Influence of indoor air quality and personal factors on the sick building syndrome (SBS) in Swedish geriatric hospitals. Occup-Environ-Med. 1995 Mar; 52(3): 170-6.

Ooi-PL; Goh-KT: Sick-building syndrome in a tropical city [letter]. Lancet. 1996 Mar 23; 347(9004): 841-2.

Redlich CA et al., Sick-building syndrome. Lancet, 1997 Apr 5, 349:9057, 1013-6.

Rothman-AL; Weintraub-MI: The sick building syndrome and mass hysteria. Neurol-Clin. 1995 May; 13(2): 405-12.

Ruhl-RA: The sick building syndrome. II. Assessment and regulation of indoor air quality. J-Asthma. 1993; 30(4): 297-308.

Sega-K; Kalinic-N: Sick building syndrome--a case study in Zagreb. Arh-Hig-Rada-Toksikol. 1994 Mar; 45(1): 1-10.

Seitz, T.A. 1989. "NIOSH Indoor Air Quality Investigations 1971-1988". 163-171. In: The Practitioners Approach to Indoor Air Quality Investigations. Proc. Indoor Air Quality International Symposium. Weedes, D.M., Gammage, R.B., eds. American Industrial Hygiene Association, Akron, Ohio.

Seltzer-JM: Effects of the indoor environment on health. Occupational-Medicine:-State-of-the-Art-Reviews. 1995 Jan-Mar; 10(1): ix-x, 1-244.

Shefer A et al., Fatiguing illness among employees in three large state office buildings, California, 1993: was there an outbreak? Psychiatr Res, 1997 Jan-Feb, 31:1, 31-43

Sherin-KM: Building-related illnesses and sick building syndrome. J-Fla-Med-Assoc. 1993 Jul; 80(7): 472-4.

Simonetti-D'Arca-A et al: [A pilot study of the air quality in dental environments]. Ann-Ig. 1996 Jan-Feb; 8(1): 83-92.

Skov, P. et al. 1990. "Influence of Indoor Air Climate on the Sick Building Syndrome in an Office Environment". Scandinavian Journal Work Environmental Health. 16: 363-371.

Skov, P. et al. 1989. "Influence of Personal Characteristics, Job Related Factors and Psychological Factors on the Sick Building Syndrome". Scandinavian Journal Work Environmental Health. 15: 286-295.

Skov, P. et al. 1987. "The Sick Building Syndrome in the Office Environment: The Danish Town Hall Study". Env. Int. 13: 334-349.

Stenberg, B. 1989. "Skin Complaints in Buildings with Indoor Climate Problems". Env. Int. 15: 81-84.

Sterling, T.D. et al. 1983. "Building Illness in the White Collar Workplace". International Journal of Health Services. 13:277-287.

Soine-L: Sick building syndrome and gender bias: imperiling women's health. Soc-Work-Health-Care. 1995; 20(3): 51-65

Stenberg-B et al: The Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) in office workers. A case-referent study of personal, psychosocial and building-related risk indicators. Int-J-Epidemiol. 1994 Dec; 23(6): 1190-7.

Stenberg-B; Wall-S: Why do women report 'sick building symptoms' more often than men? Soc-Sci-Med. 1995 Feb; 40(4): 491-502.

Stenberg-B et al: Facial skin symptoms in visual display terminal (VDT) workers. A case-referent study of personal, psychosocial, building- and VDT-related risk indicators. Int-J-Epidemiol. 1995 Aug; 24(4): 796-803.

Teeuw-KB: Airborne gram-negative bacteria and endotoxin in sick building syndrome. A study in Dutch governmental office buildings. Arch-Intern-Med. 1994 Oct 24; 154(20): 2339-45.

Thorn-A: Case report on a sick building: analysis and interpretation in the context of its disease history. Scand-J-Soc-Med. 1994 Sep; 22(3): 228-34.

Toufexis-A: Got that stuffy, run-down feeling? It may be that you are a victim of sick-building syndrome. Time 1988 Jun 6; 131(23): 76.

Tsacoyianis R: Indoor air pollutants and sick building syndrome: a case study and implications for the community health nurse. Public Health Nurs, 1997 Feb, 14:1, 58-75.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "Indoor Air Quality and Work Environment Study". EPA-21-M-3004. June 1991.

Viala-A: [Indoor air pollution and health: study of various problems] Bull-Acad-Natl-Med. 1994 Jan; 178(1): 57-66; discussion 67-71.

Walsh-FW; Solomon-DA: Disability evaluation in building-related health problems. J-Allergy-Clin-Immunol. 1994 Aug; 94(2 Pt 2): 376-9.

Weiss-B: Low-level chemical sensitivity: a perspective from behavioral toxicology. Toxicol-Ind-Health. 1994 Jul-Oct; 10(4-5): 605-17.

Yang-CY: [Workplace risk factors associated with eye syndrome in office workers]. Kao-Hsiung-I-Hsueh-Ko-Hsueh-Tsa-Chih. 1993 Dec; 9(12): 684-9.

Main Menu