The epidemiology of "sick buildings"

The indoor environment of modern buildings, especially those designed for commercial and administrative purposes, constitutes a unique ecological niche with its own biochemical environment, fauna and flora. Sophisticated construction methods and the new materials and machinery required to maintain the indoor environment of these enclosed structures produce a large number of chemical by-products and permit the growth of many different microorganisms. Because modern office buildings are sealed, the regulation of humidification and temperature of ducted air presents a dilemma, since difference species of microorganisms flourish at different combinations of humidity and temperature. If the indoor environment of modern office buildings is not properly maintened, the environment may become harmful to its occupants' health. Such buildings are classified as "Sick Buildings". A review of the epidemiology of building illness is presented. The etiology of occupant illnesses, sources of toxic substances, and possible methods of maintaining a safe indoor environment are described.

Air pollution; Air pollutants, occupational; Occupational diseases

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