Article on Sick Building Syndrome

Article on Sick Building Syndrome


A human body is a living organism or structure, embodied with energies in and around, with self maintained systems (physiology) running by themselves to maintain the organism. Similarly a building is also an enclosed vibrating structure with embodied energies in and around with partially self created systems & process primarily supported by forces of nature. Every structure is an enclosed space or embodied spatial form surcharged with energies within.

A building is like a human body in many aspects. Human body can become sick if it is exposed to unhealthy environment. Over exposure to carbon monoxide, Sulpher dioxide, negative radiations, energies, or unhealthy air with organic and inorganic contaminations can drive a living organism towards sickness. Similarly a building which is exposed to similar unhealthy conditions can become sick and make the occupants sick. If a building becomes sick for long durations, the internal bioclimate of the building which is self created self maintained systems gets badly affected. As a result the whole internal system (internal bioclimate) of the building becomes unhealthy. When the complete anatomy and physiology (structure and its functioning) of the building gets affected, it is termed as SICK BUILDING.

If 20% or more of the building’s occupants complain of such problems as headache, eye irritation, nausea, sore throats, dry or itchy skin, sinus congestion, nose irritation, fatigue and dizziness etc for more than two weeks, it may indicate sick building syndrome. It is also described as human health conditions where infections linger, caused by exposure to toxins and contaminants within a building as a result of poor ventilation, lack of natural sunlight, negative radiations, energies, stresses and aggressions. It is an Ill-health or discomfort caused by a structure’s design and/or the materials used to construct it.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) describes the term “sick building syndrome (SBS) as situations in which building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building, but no specific illness or cause can be identified. The complaints may be localized in a particular room or zone, or may be widespread throughout the building. In contrast, the term “building related illness” (BRI) is used when symptoms of diagnosable illness are identified and can be attributed directly to airborne building contaminants.

The Environmental Illness Resource describes Sick building syndrome as a broad label that covers a range of symptoms thought to be triggered when the sufferer spends time in a particular building. Symptoms range from specific symptoms such as itchy eyes, skin rashes, and nasal allergy symptomsto more vague symptoms such as fatigue, aches and pains, and sensitivity to odours.

The term “sick building syndrome, was first coined in the 1970s, and its recognition at this time may in part be attributable to the increasing presence of electronic equipment and other factors. It is used when the symptoms of a significant number of people occupying a particular building, are associated with their presence in that building. In most cases sick building syndrome occurs in office buildings, although it may also occur in other communal buildings such as schools and apartment buildings.
Wikipedia describes Sick building syndrome (SBS) is a combination of ailments (a syndrome) associated with an individual’s place of work (office building) or residence.
Wiktionary.has described sick building syndrome as adverse environmental conditions in a building that pose a health risk to its occupants; the symptoms experienced by people who work there.

In our opinion Sick Building Syndrome is a complex problem created by multiple factors both physical and non physical in nature, affecting not just the physical but also the mental, emotional, intellectual and spiritual comfort and balance of the occupants. It is not just created through poor indoor air quality and poor building materials as mostly known but is also affected by many other factors combininly creating unhealthy internal bioclimate including holistic factors too.

Vastu Science, ancient Indian science of architecture talks about building construction, building materials, environmental quality and higher standard of living through energy efficient and sustainable habitats. People have lived longer and healthier lives in structures which were merely nature supportive. Our ancient architects knew the art and science of wise creation of buildings. Such structures are still evidently visible to learn from our glorious past. The term like Sick Building Syndrome is today’s problem. It is a problem created through unwise planning, poor ideology, structures, materials and primarily lack of knowledge about sensitive aspects of life and building.

There have been some scholars in ancient and modern architecture who have even added that sick building syndrome is some total of both scientific and holistic constraints of building or poor hygienic living conditions. A building may have holistic defects if it has not been designed as per the laws of nature. Therefore sick building syndrome is a much wider term than it seems. It is much detailed because it is not just unhealthy conditions created by unhealthy air but combination of external and internal scientific and holistic factors.
Health and home has a close relationship. People get affected by the environment they live in. For instance if a couple stays in a very congested lane of a congested market in a metropolitan with very high pollution levels, little natural light, high noise levels and internal environment consisting of high electromagnetic field, contaminating materials and geopathic stress. If such a couple moves to a hill station where the building is located on a healthy location with green trees all around. In such a case the couple will find a drastic difference in their life and lifestyle. They would find a better improved mental and physical health. Such is the affect of environment on the occupants.

Although in many cases the exact mechanism by which a building, or substances within the building are causing the occupants to become ill is unknown, the problem areas can usually be identified and remedial action can be taken. In many Sick Building Syndrome cases poor building design, maintenance, and/or operation of the structure’s ventilation system may be at fault. The cross ventilation system in particular is often found to be at the heart of the problem, and can itself be a source of irritants. In addition, a poor ventilation system can result in a buildup of pollutants within the building, in which case the indoor environment can often have air quality much lower than the outdoor air. Factors such as architecture or interior design may also interfere with efficient functioning of ventilation systems. Essentially poor design and maintenance of the ventilation system can enhance the negative health effects.

It has been suggested that very low levels of specific pollutants, such as VOCs, that are present inside a building may act to cause symptoms of illness. The chemical industry is not strictly regulated and majority of chemicals have not been tested for health effects. Today the scientists are active in finding even minute negative effects of a chemical emission as such collective gross emissions from multiple chemicals may be highly dangerous. Example of such a massacre is Union carbon factory Bhopal.

The symptoms of SBS are likely the result of a combination of factors. Many of the symptoms can be related either to the known toxic effects of high levels of certain chemicals emitted from a recognizable source within or outside the building. Some of the prominent causes of Sick Building Syndrome are mentioned below:

  • Poor Indoor Air Quality & Ventilation
  • Lack of Sunlight & Seasonal affective Disorder
  • Electromagnetic Pollution
  • Noise Pollution
  • Unhealthy Building Material & Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
  • Construction Bye passing Vastu Principles
  • Extreme Climatic Conditions & Sick Building Syndrome
  • Geopathic Stress & Land Degradation
  • Poor Surroundings & Vegetation
  • Furniture & Unhealthy Internal environment

The symptoms of Sick Building may vary conditionally. The symptoms depend on the type of emission and the people affected by such emissions. In general conditions there can be a long list of problems that people may face during their stay in the building. Several sick occupants may complain individual symptoms which may not appear to be connected. Generally the symptoms may not appear as soon as the occupant leaves the building. Although there may be a mild lingering affect throughout. In fact in sensitive individuals there can be long-term health effects too.

Buildings often contain a lot of hidden and unapproachable spaces within the building. Such spaces may include attic, crawlspace, and drop-ceiling spaces etc. Such spaces suffer from absence of infiltration and inadequate ventilation. It is technically referred to as “Stagnation”. The symptoms of Sick Building Syndrome are mentioned below:

Sick Building Syndrome Symptoms

  •  Burning and watering eyes and nose
  •  Burning in trachea
  •  Cancer
  •  Chronic fatigue
  •  CNS (central nervous system) tremors or loss of balance
  •  Debilitating fibromyalgia (muscle cramps and joint pain)
  •  Depression
  •  Dizziness
  •  Dry, itchy skin
  •  Exhaustion after normal activity
  •  Hair loss
  •  Headaches
  •  Heart Palpitations
  •  Hoarseness, cough, sore throat
  •  Inability to concentrate
  •  Irritability
  •  Itchy granulomous pimples
  •  Miscarriages
  •  Nausea
  •  Neuropathy (loss of sensation in extremities)
  •  Nosebleeds
  •  Pregnancy Problems
  •  Sensitivity to odors
  •  Serious edema (swelling of legs, trunk, ankles)
  •  Shortness of breath upon mild exertion (e.g. walking)
  •  Tremors
  •  Weight gain
  •  Wellness When Away From Building

Impact of overall environment on Human body

A question comes to the mind more and often. What is the relationship between the mind and the body? Philosophers and scientists have been debating on this topic. Mind is an abstract term used for the workings of the brain. Brain is one the most important parts of the body. It is directly connected by nerves to all other parts of the body. Whatever is going on “mentally” inside a person is also going on physically, and vice versa. It is a fact that most of the time we are not conscious of the activities going on in our brain. We are conscious only of the effects of that activity. This is why it is considered that although it is part of the body still it is apart from the body.


According to “Flanders Dunbar” it is more important to know what kind of person has the disease rather than to know what kind of disease the person has. It is more important to understand the psyche of a person so as to know the root cause of the disease. For example if a person is fatigued, it will reduce his ability to withstand any stress and if the person is stressed it will reduce his ability to withstand any physical disease. These are therefore known as psychosomatic disorders.

Generally diseases are born out of unhealthy living or living conditions. Now it is up to us to understand and clearly define healthy and unhealthy living. If we intend to live a healthy life, we must understand clearly how to stay healthy and create healthy building environment. In lot of cases it has been clearly concluded that Building and its environment was the ROOT CAUSE of the problem. A person is most affected by the environment. The overall environment is a result of temperature, light, sound, indoor air quality, construction material, furniture, electronic gadgets, orientation and direction etc.

  • Unhealthy interior material can cause multiple chemical sensitivity.
  • Imbalance in the air can cause depression, irritability and rashes etc
  • Radon gas emissions can even cause cancer
  • Over exposure to sound can cause palpitation, blood vessel constriction, and adrenaline rush and pupil dilation.
  • Unhealthy furniture can cause repetitive strain injury, backache, pain in shoulders and neck, mid back and lower back pain and even stress and tension.
  • Contaminations in the air can cause chronic bronchitis, sneezing, watery eyes, coughing, dizziness, lethargy, fever, humidifier fever and digestive problems.
  • Exposure to too much of light can cause skin related diseases
  • Unhealthy plants can cause allergies and infections
  • Geopathic Stress can cause lowering down of immunization system, cramps and inflammations.
  • Electro magnetic pollution can cause insomnia and migraine.
  • Fungus (wuchereria bancrofti) can cause elephantiasis (swelling of foot)
  • Bacteria can cause encephalitis and syphilis
  • Lack of Cosmo telluric channel can cause uneasiness and lack of freshness
  • The impact of overall environment on the human body is explained through the below mentioned diagram.

The mental and physical health of the occupants depends a lot on the environment. Healthy environment can help a person grow better both mentally and physically.

An adequate level of sunlight can positively alter the mood chemically and even pre­vent depression. SAD Seasonal Affective Disorder is a mood disorder in which people experience depressive symptoms due to lack of adequate levels of sunlight especially winters. SAD was first formally described and named in 1984 by Norman E. Rosenthal and at the National Institute of Mental Health. The US National Library of Medicine states that “some people experience a serious mood change when the seasons change. They may sleep too much, have little energy, and may also feel depressed. Though symptoms can be severe, they usually clear up. The condition in the summer is often referred to as reverse seasonal affective disorder, and can also include heightened anxiety”.

The one and only cause of seasonal affective disorder is lack of natural sunlight on skin. When one does not receive enough natural sunlight one may suffer from a nutritional It can also be referred as “sunlight deficiency”.

Hibernation is an extreme example of sunlight deficiency but even species that do not hibernate often exhibit changes in behavior during the winter. It has been argued that SAD is an evolved adaptation in humans that is a variant or remnant of a hibernation response in some remote ancestor.

If a person makes a point to get natural sunlight on their skin on a frequent basis daily,it is certain that person will experience a wide range of healthful benefits, including improvement in mood and an ending of any state of they may have experienced, increased and reversal of symptoms of osteoporosis, help in reversing prostate and breast cancer, and enhanced mood and function.

A Harvard study published in the January 13 issue of the respected medical journal, Neurology ” the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology ” has identified a lack of Vitamin D as a principle indicator in incidence of the deadly, debilitating disease, multiple sclerosis in women. In addition, sunshine may protect against the development of multiple sclerosis, according to the findings of an Oxford University study to be published in next month’s Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Earlier research also points to the role of vitamin D in MS. In MS patients, levels of Vitamin D in the body can predict periods of low or high disease activity ” the higher the Vitamin D, the lower the disease activity. Scientists believe that the hormone Serotonin is responsible for SAD and affects the sleep, eating behaviors, and mood regulation.
Sunlight also stimulates the pineal gland – a tiny pea-sized organ found in the base of the brain. It is also referred to as ‘the third eye’, the pineal gland produces certain types of brain chemicals called ‘tryptamines’. One type of tryptamine, melatonin, keeps our body clock aware of day and night, and the changing seasons. From the spiritual perspectives, sunlight helps an individual to raise all the levels of consciousness within including simple consciousness, self consciousness and cosmic consciousness. It is considered to be the life force and best healer in the nature. Sun has always been considered as the God of health. The light of the sun has been used by healers for healing various diseases.

Experts suggest that the influence of Sunlight may be related to the number of red cells and hemoglobin in the blood. An insufficiency of light may cause an increase in the serum or watery portion of the blood and a corre­sponding decrease in the quantity of blood fibrin and red corpuscles, resulting in anemia. Sunlight may also favorably influence the irregularities of ovulation, pubertal difficulties and impotency. Studies have shown that after prolonged fasting or a wast­ing illness, exposure to sufficient Sunshine may enable the body to gain energy.

Scientists today also believe that sunlight may reduce the risk of several types of cancer such as breast, colon, ovary, bladder, womb, stomach and prostate gland.

Our body has its own electrical and magnetic system. Electrical energy created in the brain regulates complex biological process. Our bodies electrics can be distributed and disrupted by environmental electromagnetic fields, natural (geo pathos stress) and manmade (electro stress). Radiations from nature can be through sun or earth.

Most significant consistent effect of electro stress on the human system is on the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. Every client whose body is detrimentally affected by electro magnetic disturbances has a compressed nutrient absorption rate. Once the source of electro magnetic disturbances is deactivated or removed, nutrient absorption rate rapidly returns to optimal levels.

Electro magnetic field are invisible to the naked eye, but it shows harmful effect on our body, so electromagnetic field have been part of the earth’s environment. Resonances occurs between the earth’s molten iron nickel core and the charged gases of the ionosphere. They pulse at definite frequencies (between 0.1 and 25 HZ mostly at about 10 Hz) and act as regulators for the biological time clocks of all living creatures. If a man or any living animal or plant is shielded from these fields for any length of time the result is discomfort and ill health.

Anything which uses electricity for its operation generates a field, whether it is AC or DC. Automotive currents are in general more harmful because they pulse Due to geo and environment stress there can be impact on our life. Our body has an energy axis which is aligned with the centre of the body, when it is resonates with the flow of energies in the space. When disturbed, the axis moves out and causes loss of immunity and health disorders over a period of time. Almost all radiations, known to mankind have a wavelength of less than 20 cm. Scientific reports have suggested that exposure to electromagnetic fields emitted from these devices could have adverse health effects, such as cancer, reduced fertility, memory loss, and adverse changes in the behavior and development of children.


The following list represents diseases and health problems that are either a direct result of electromagnetic radiation poisoning or are closely associated with it. Keep in mind that all health issues will be affected to some degree by exposure to EMF radiation, whether electric, magnetic, wireless or ionizing radiation, since it weakens the immune system, stresses the body and damages healthy cells.

  •  cancer
  •  alzheimer’s
  •  parkinson’s
  •  fibromyalgia
  •  chronic fatigue
  •  daily headaches
  •  brain cancer
  •  lyme disease
  •  asthma
  •  heart problems
  •  chest pain
  •  insomnia
  •  allergies
  •  electrosensitivity (ES)/electromagnetic hypersensitivitiy (EHS)
  •  multiple sclerosis
  •  high blood pressure
  •  digestive disorders
  •  migraine headaches
  •  brain tumors
  •  leukemia – general
  •  lymphoblastic leukemia
  •  birth defects
  •  miscarriages
  •  stress
  •  nausea
  •  rheumatoid arthritis
  •  lupus
  •  fatigue
  •  skin conditions – burning, rashes, pain
  •  tinnitus and other audible noises
  •  chronic pain
  •  erratic pulse
  •  and weak immune system etc

Factors that Encourage the Dangers of Electromagnetic Radiation
Though every person’s cells are affected by electromagnetic radiation, each is affected at different ‘speeds’. Here are some of the factors that encourage a faster or stronger reaction to EMF exposures.
  •  High stress levels
  •  Low iodine levels
  •  Heavy metal toxicity
  •  Having other pre-existing health problems
  •  Weakened immune system

High total EMF exposure

Reactions in MCS are triggered by a vast array of everyday chemicals from perfume to diesel exhaust. The common ingredients in most of these chemical products are hydrocarbon based volatile organic chemicals (VOC’s). Phenols (containing benzene) are commonly implicated. With everyday cosmetic and household chemical products, it is generally the addition of perfume that makes them bad news for MCS sufferers. Typically a sufferer will notice a sensitivity to one or two things to start with, perfume and cigarette smoke for example, and then will rapidly become sensitized to more and more chemical sources over a relatively short period of time. The reasons for this common occurrence are unknown but it is clearly something that needs to be investigated.

Common chemical triggers of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity as per Environmental illness Resourse are:

New carpet

Most new carpets contain a cocktail of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) as ingredients in glues, backing materials, flame retardants, dyes etc. These include many of the chemicals we are now familiar with, such as acetone, toluene, xylene, formaldehyde, and benzene derivatives. When the carpet is new these chemicals “off gas” over a period of around 6 months to 2 years, polluting the air in the home.

Lead & VOC Paints-

Paint which emits Volatile Organic Compounds are dangerous for human health. Considering the negative aspect of VOC emission, Green Building guidelines emphasize on VOC free paints to be used in buildings.

Particle board –

Manufactured particle board is now used much more widely than solid wood in our homes, in such things as fitted kitchens, furniture such as shelving, bookcases, cabinets (especially flat-pack) and laminate flooring. Particle board is basically wood chip bound together by chemical adhesives into solid boards. As with new carpets, new particle board products off gas VOC’s over a relatively long period of time and will trigger symptoms in the chemically sensitive and may induce sensitivity in previously healthy individuals. Chemicals that off gas from particle board are similar to those from carpets with formaldehyde most often the main offender.

CCA-treated Timber

CCA treated timber contains a mixture of chemical compounds containing copper, chromium and arsenic. It is a preservative used to treat wood to stop it rotting when used outdoors. CCA treated timber was developed in the 1930s and has been used ever since. It is a potential health risk as it contains arsenic. Children are most likely to be at risk through biting or eating timber in structures such as playgrounds, sandpit surrounds and decks.


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are a group of over 200 chemicals which were commonly used in fluorescent tubes and other electrical equipment made before 1980. These substances are highly toxic and do not break down quickly. Between 1994 and 1998 there was a nation-wide programme to identify and dispose of any fittings and equipment containing PCBs.

All of the petrochemical-based materials in use today share a common legacy of emitting toxic chemicals in the process of refining the oil or gas from which these plastics are made. Chlorinated plastics, including polyvinyl chloride, however, have come under more intense scrutiny due to the extreme toxicity of chemicals involved in their production and disposal.

Why Are Chlorinated Plastics a Problem?

Throughout the lifecycle of PVC and other chlorinated plastics, through manufacture and disposal, the chlorine content has the potential to produce dioxins. Dioxins are an unavoidable by-product of the manufacture, combustion, and disposal of materials containing chlorine, which can create dioxins both when the products are manufactured and when they burn in structural fibres or at the end of their useful life in incinerators or landfill fibers. Dioxins include some of the most potent carcinogens known to humankind. One of the most toxic dioxin compounds is not only a carcinogen, but also a reproductive and developmental toxicant and alters the immune and endocrine systems. Dioxins are a family of compounds widely recognized as persistent bioaccumulative toxicants (PBTs), which has led to them becoming a global problem. The US Green Building Council has acknowledged that the chlorine content of PVC building materials and the resultant dioxin emissions “puts PVC consistently among the worst materials for human health impacts.

Asbestos –

Asbestos is a substance found in certain building products. These products include:

  • asbestos cement cladding
  • textured ceiling coatings
  • thermal insulation around pipes and
  • boilers fire-protective linings on structural steel (limpet asbestos).

Asbestos can cause lung disease with sufficient exposure.

Perfume –

According to a 1986 report by the Committee on Science & Technology, U.S. House of Representatives, 95% of chemicals in perfumes and fragrance products are synthetic chemicals derived from petroleum. Some of the major perfume ingredients include benzaldehyde, benzyl acetate, benzyl alcohol, ethanol, ethyl acetate, limonene, linalool, a-pinene, g-terpinene and a-terpineol. All of these chemicals are known to have negative health consequences, mainly due to effects on the central nervous system.

Household Cleaning Products –

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the US states that the air in the average home may be up to 5 times as polluted as the air outside. Much of this pollution comes from the use of common household cleaning products. They also caution that of the many thousands of chemicals in use only around 3 in 10 have actually been safety tested. Examples of common chemicals in cleaning products include diethyl phthalate, found in a range of products, toluene, found in stain removers, and hexane/xylene, found in aerosol sprays. Diethyl Phthalate is a known endocrine disrupter (interferes with hormone activity), toluene is a known carcinogen (cancer causing agent) and can cause neurological problems, and finally both hexane and xylene can also damage the nervous system.

Other cleaning products that commonly trigger MCS symptoms include dishwasher detergent, laundry liquid/powder, fabric softener, air “fresheners”, and bathroom/kitchen detergents. Highly fragranced products are always likely to be the most troublesome.

Personal Care Products & Cosmetics –

Equally important contributors to indoor air pollution are the many personal care and cosmetic products that fill bathroom cabinets etc. The added danger with many of these, such as hair spray and deodorant, is that we carry the chemicals around with us all day on our bodies. Some of the common chemicals found in such products include cocoamide DEA (detergent in most shampoos, moisturizers and more), propylene glycol (in deodorant, shampoos, shaving gels, moisturizers and more), sodium lauryl sulfate (detergents- in shampoos, toothpastes, more), acetone (nail varnish remover) and benzaldehyde (hair spray, deodorant, shaving foam, shampoo, bar soap and more).

Other problem products include shower gels and liquid soaps, nail varnish, hair styling products, hair conditioners, sun lotion, and scented bath products. Again the highly fragranced products tend to be the most troublesome to the multiple chemical sensitivity patient.

Other common triggers:

The above is by no means an exhaustive list. Here are some other common triggers of symptoms in MCS patients:

  • marker pens
  • soft plastics
  • new clothes
  • new furniture
  • newspapers/magazines
  • paint
  • varnish
  • solvents

glues/adhesives…..and more

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is a devastating illness, not just because of the distress caused by the symptoms themselves, but also from the resulting effects on all areas of life. An MCS sufferer typically becomes more and more isolated and withdrawn as they simply can’t be around people (wearing perfume, deodorant etc) or in public spaces where chemicals are routinely used. MCS sufferers often lose their jobs as they can’t tolerate the chemicals in the work environment, and relationships often break down as the partner is unable to understand or adapt to living without the use of common chemical products.

Immune System

A couple of studies have found abnormal T and B-lymphocyte numbers and increased auto antibodies, that is antibodies that react with the body’s own tissues. Some data has shown a low T-helper/Suppressor ratio which would act to impair immune function. Probably the most consistent finding is that of low natural killer (NK) cell activity. This is interesting in the light of strong evidence for low NK activity in and The inconsistent findings have been suggested to be the result of changes in immune activation over time following an exposure, with the resulting difficulties in testing MCS patients appropriately in research studies.


  • Benzene A commonly used solvent, also found in fuels.
  • Formaldehyde A disinfectant, preservative, and curing agent.
  • Trichloroethylene A commercial product for industrial use.


  • Inks, oils, paints, plastics, rubber, gasoline, detergents, pharmaceuticals, dyes, tobacco smoke and synthetic fibres.
  • Particle board, pressed wood, foam insulation, paper bags, waxed papers, facial tissues, stiffeners and wrinkle resisters, water repellents, fire retardants, binders in floor coverings, carpet backing, permanent press clothes, natural gas, kerosene and cigarette smoke.
  • Metal degreasers, dry cleaners, printing inks, lacquers, varnishes and adhesives.

Effects on Humans

  • Skin and eye irritation (including drying, inflammation, blistering and dermatitis), dizziness, weakness, headache, nausea, blurred vision, respiratory problems, tremors, irregular heartbeat, liver and kidney damage, loss of appetite, drowsiness, nervousness, psychological disturbances, diseases of the blood system and carcinogenicity.
  • Irritation of mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and throat, allergic contact dermatitis, respiratory problems, eye irritation, headaches, asthma and carcinogenicity to the throat.
  • Potent carcinogenicity to the liver.

Plants have proven to be important life supporters in that they remove carbon dioxide from the air and release oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. The NASA studies found that plants also work in a symbiotic relationship to remove air pollutants produced by other plants, people and industry. Trace chemicals in the atmosphere are absorbed and biodegraded by plant leaves and roots, the soil, and micro-organisms. Virtually every tropical foliage and flowering plant works to remove pollutants from the interior environment, and particular plants are better at removing certain toxins. The studies found that one potted plant per 100 square feet of floor space can help clean the air in the average home or office, although the addition of more plants would increase the rate of pollutant removal.

Indoor air contaminants can originate within the building or from outdoors. Air pollutants consist of numerous particulates, fibers, mists, bio-acrosols, and gases. Another important aspect of indoor air pollution is that it can vary by time and location within the facilities, or even a single room. Pollutants can be emitted from recognizable point sources, such as from chemical store rooms, or from area sources, such as newly painted surfaces.

Typical Sources of Indoor Air Pollutants include:
Outdoor Air Pollution

  • Pollen
  • Dust
  • Fungal spores
  • Industrials emissions
  • Vehicle emissions
  • Unsanitary debris or building exhausts near outdoor air intakes
  • Loading docks
  • Odors from dumpsters
  • Underground Sources
  • Radon emission
  • Pesticides
  • Leakage from underground storage tanks

HVAC Equipment

  • Microbiological growth in drip pans, ductwork, coils, and humidifiers
  • Improper venting of combustion products
  • Dust or debris in ductwork

Non-HVAC Equipment

  • Emissions from office equipment (volatile organic compounds)
  • Emissions from shops, labs, cleaning processes


  • Microbiological growth on soiled or water-damaged materials
  • Dry traps that allow the passage of sewer gas
  • Materials containing volatile organic compounds, inorganic compounds or asbestos
  • Materials that produce particles (dust)


  • Emissions from new furnishings and floorings
  • Microbiological growth on or in soiled or water-damaged furnishings
  • Science laboratories
  • Copy/print areas
  • Food prep areas
  • Smoking lounges
  • Cleaning materials
  • Emissions from trash
  • Pesticides
  • Odors and volatile organic compounds from paint, chalk, adhesives
  • Occupants with communicable diseases
  • Dry-erase markers and similar pens
  • Insects and other pests
  • Personal care products

Other Indoor Air Contaminants

There are a variety of sources and factors that can contribute to the cause and spread of IAQ contaminants. These sources may result in a variety of IAQ contaminants including:

  • Radon
  • Environmental Tobacco Smoke
  • Biological Contaminants (mold, mildew, etc.)
  • Stoves, Heaters, Fireplaces, and Chimneys
  • Household Products
  • Formaldehyde
  • Pesticides
  • Asbestos
  • Lead

The most common source of indoor radon is uranium in the soil or rocks emitting uranium on which homes are built. As uranium naturally breaks down, it releases radon gas, which is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas. Radon is a heavy gas. Radon gas enters homes through dirt floors, cracks in concrete walls and floors, floor drains, and sumps. When radon becomes trapped in buildings and concentrations build up indoors, exposure to radon becomes a concern.

Any home may have a radon problem. This means new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements, however, it is only considered a significant risk in some areas. Sometimes radon enters the home through well water. In a small number of homes, the building materials can give off radon, too. However, building materials rarely cause radon problems by themselves.

Health Effects of Radon

The predominant health effect associated with exposure to elevated levels of radon is lung cancer. Some of the research suggests that swallowing water with high radon levels may pose risks, too, although these are believed to be much lower than those from breathing air containing radon. Major health organizations (like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Lung Association (ALA), and the American Medical Association) agree with estimates that radon causes thousands of preventable lung cancer deaths each year. EPA estimates that radon causes about 14,000 deaths per year in the United States—however, this number could range from 7,000 to 30,000 deaths per year. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high.

Solutions to the problems of Radon:

Radon Reduction Techniques- There are several methods that a contractor can use to lower radon levels in your home. Some techniques prevent radon from entering your home while others reduce radon levels after it has entered. Environment Protection Agency normally recommends methods which prevent the entry of radon. Soil suction, for example, prevents radon from entering your home by drawing the radon from below the house and venting it through a pipe, or pipes, to the air above the house where it is quickly diluted.

Pleasing Sounds are called music whereas unpleasing and unbearable sounds are referred to as noise. Noise beyond acceptable limits is termed as noise pollution. Noise pollution is displeasing human, animal or machine-created sound that disturbs the activity or balance of human or animal life.

  • construction
  • transportation systems, including motor vehicle noise, aircraft noise and rail noise
  • industrial activities
  • Indoor and outdoor noise pollution sources include car alarms,
  • emergency service sirens,
  • mechanical equipment,
  • fireworks,
  • compressed air horns,
  • grounds keeping equipment,
  • barking dogs,
  • appliances,
  • audio entertainment systems,
  • loud people.
  • Anti-Social Behaviour such as uses of Loudspeaker is a highly sensitive social issue in India

HEALTH EFECTS ON HUMAN HEALTH: Noise health effectscan be both mental and physical. The unwanted sounds can damage physiological and psychological health. Noise pollution can cause

  • annoyance and aggression,
  • hypertension
  • high stress levels,
  • tinnitus
  • hearing loss,
  • sleep disturbances, and other harmful effects.
  • Furthermore, stress and hypertension are the leading causes to health problems,
  • Chronic exposure to noise may cause Older males exposed to significant demonstrate reduced hearing sensitivity than their non-exposed peers,  though differences in hearing sensitivity decrease with time.

High noise levels can contribute to

  • effects
  • rise inof five to ten points
  • an increase in stress
  • andvasoconstriction leading to the increased blood pressure
  • coronary artery disease

Over exposure to noise can have negative effect on animals and plants as well. It can lead to stress, increasing risk of death by changing the delicate balance in predator/prey detection and avoidance, and by interfering with their use of sounds in communication especially in relation to reproduction and in navigation. Acoustic overexposure can lead to temporary or permanent loss of hearing.

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