Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) & Your Business

It's called Sick Building Syndrome or SBS and it's spreading to homes and businesses at an alarming rate. As more offices, factories, retail outlets, schools and other large buildings are made more energy efficient, unsafe chemicals, molds, bacteria, fungi and other health and safety risks are sealed up tight inside.

SBS is used by contractors and HVAC professionals to describe a building wherein occupants experience health and comfort effects that are related to the time they spend in the building rather than diseases and conditions from other sources.

The impact on your bottom line:

  • Increased absenteeism
  • Higher than average employee turnover
  • Decreased productivity
  • The dangers posed by the contaminants housed within the plant. You wouldn't believe what's growing in some air ducts. It's like its own little ecosystem in there - and it's making your employees and your business ill.
Indicators of SBS

As the company owner or building manager, it's important to identify the symptoms of SBS as soon as possible. These symptoms appear in workers, sometimes so gradually that you and other managers don't notice the decline in output and the increase in sick days.

Most Common SBS Symptoms among employees include:

  • Unexplained headaches
  • Eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Dry cough
  • Itchy or dry skin
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Sensitivity to orders
  • Chest tightness, fever, chills and muscle aches

It is important to note:

  1. The source of these conditions is usually unidentified. It is not a "cold going around".
  2. Symptoms among employees are widespread and persistent.
  3. Even bad cases of SBS can be cured.
The Causes of Sick Building Syndrome
Lack of Clean Air

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a lack of ventilation - clean air flow - is the primary cause of SBS. It leaves dampness in air ducts, AC cooling tanks and even in the walls of your office. And this stuff is dangerous to the health of your staff - the one you treat like family!

Chemical and Bacterial Contaminants

Chemical and bacterial contaminants can come from within the plant or from outside of your building.


Stuff grows everywhere, but mostly in areas where moisture collects - places like ventilation ducts that recirculate temperature- and humidity-regulated air back to the workspace, cooling towers and even through the heating system.

Bacteria and Viruses

They're everywhere and most of these microscopic pathogens are harmless - even beneficial. The bacteria in the digestive tract actually aids in the digestion of food. However, bacteria and virus are not our friends.

A faulty, under-performing ventilation system actually contains these disease sources within the tightly-constructed-energy-efficient-you-can't-even-open-a-window office.

Airborne Pollutants

The can come from the factory floor or the copy machine. A closed-in, tightly-sealed, energy efficient building has higher levels of pollutants than any outdoor space and, if the HVAC in the building isn't operating properly, it becomes a major liability to employee and business health.

An entire ecosystem could be thriving in your plant or office HVAC systems and the only way to find out is to call an HVAC pro to assess just how sick your workplace is.

SBS and Business Risk

Sick building syndrome can cause a business to underperform and even fail with more sick days, higher rates of turnovers and higher health care costs.

Your employees, a business' most valuable asset, are at health risk from working in a sick building. Maybe it's not the staff responsible for the lower annual numbers. Maybe it's SBS. The problem could be as simple as the office furniture and rugs (formaldehyde), office equipment or heavy machinery and chemically dynamic production steps.

Starting to see the benefits of a healthy workplace?

What Can an HVAC Pro Do for You and Your Business?

A simple walk-through with an HVAC specialist can reveal a number of existing and potential problems. Recommendations are likely to include:

  • Remove existing pollutants safely and quickly.
  • Modify your existing systems to avoid future problems with pollutants.
  • Significantly increase rates of ventilation, i.e., more fresh, clean air.
  • HVAC upgrades including sophisticated, high-tech filters that scrub the air before your employees breathe it.
  • On-going education of managerial staff on safe HVAC practices.
  • Routine, scheduled maintenance of all HVAC systems.

As the company owner, CEO or facilities resource manager, you have a business, legal and moral obligation to keep your workplace safe for you and all of your employees.

Do it today, stamp out SBS and start seeing improved productivity tomorrow.

Contact a CORE Representative ยป


CORE is a recognized, domestic leader in the HVAC market that proactively employs sophisticated technologies and best in class process and certification to address your IAQ problems head-on. More about CORE


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Core Mechanical, Inc.
7150 N. Park Drive
Suite 400
Pennsauken, NJ 08109

Phone: 856.665.0636
Fax: 856.488.2241

The Importance of Working With a State Licensed Air Conditioning Contractorstate-licensed-air-conditioning-contractor

To deal with the problems arising from slowly deteriorating IAQ, commercial and industrial facilities need to ensure that the AC ducts are cleaned and serviced regularly and that their equipment has been optimized in accordance with ASHRAE standards.

The reality is that with so much at stake, it does not pay to work with unlicensed contractors who often lack the education, hands-on training and cutting edge technologies granted by state licensing.

As a certified member in good standing of the Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA), Core is an industry leading HVAC service provider and offers varied services to improve ventilation and system optimization. In addition, Core offers repair, maintenance and often total system replacements to industrial and commercial facilities.

CORE's Commercial Certifications :: Contact a CORE Professional