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Sick Building Syndrome Can Affect Homes and Businesses

The National Safety Council describes sick building syndrome as “situation in which occupants of a building experience acute health effects that seem 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.”  Buildings that become “sick” are often a result of design deficiencies or poor maintenance. Activities by building occupants can also cause or contribute to a sick building. These conditions can affect homes and businesses alike. Multi-family dwellings such as large apartment buildings, high rises, condominiums, and co-ops can develop sick building syndrome because of failed or poorly maintained heating and cooling systems, among other things. Office buildings and commercial and industrial facilities can suffer from similar conditions.

When occupants, workers, or even visitors are exposed to a sick building environment, they can experience acute symptoms that may resolve when the exposure ends, or shortly after. Those who are exposed to a sick building on a consistent or long-term basis can develop more chronic conditions. At greater risk of harm from exposure to a sick building are immunosuppressed persons, children, and the elderly.

Symptoms and Causes of Illnesses from Sick Building Exposure

People exposed to sick buildings can develop various symptoms, including:

  • Headaches
  • eye, nose, and throat irritation
  • dry cough
  • dry or itchy skin
  • dizziness and nausea
  • difficulty in concentrating
  • fatigue
  • sensitivity to odors

The cause of sick building syndrome may be multi-determined. This means that there may not be just one malfunction, unmaintained condition, or source of pollution that is causing building occupants to react poorly to the building. When assessing sick building syndrome, the following potential causes are often considered:

  • Biological contaminants can make a building sick. This includes mold and other bacteria, and even pollen. Bacteria can develop from moisture build-up or stagnant water that has accumulated in humidifiers, drain pans, ducts, on ceiling tiles, insulation, or carpet.
  • External pollution can cause indoor air contamination, such as exhaust from neighboring industrial facilities, garages, bus depots, motor vehicles, gas stations, or manufacturing plants. These substances can enter a building and circulate through its ventilation system.
  • Inside sources of indoor air pollution, from things like adhesives, machinery, cleaning agents, and even upholstery and carpeting can off-gas or emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including formaldehyde and other toxic substances.

Protecting Yourself and Your Family from Sick Building Syndrome

When circumstances giving rise to a sick building persist for a long enough period of time, the health of people living or working in these sick buildings can be adversely affected. In those circumstances, the Toxic Injury Lawyers can help you navigate the legal repercussions of sick building exposure. Our team of environmental lawyers are highly experienced in recovering damages for those exposed to mold, volatile organic compounds, vapor intrusion, and other contaminants found in sick buildings. Our goal is always to help ensure that our clients receive immediate relief from ongoing exposure.  Meanwhile, our attorneys seek compensation for our clients through the courts or, when appropriate, alternative dispute resolution processes, such arbitration or mediation.

Concerned About a Sick Building? Call the Toxic Injury Lawyers.

People exposed to sick buildings may not know where to turn for help. Be assured that the Toxic Injury Lawyers, a team of professionals well-versed in environmental exposure issues, can work to get you compensated for your injuries. We are a versatile environmental law firm with a long history of proven results, and we take pride in helping our clients make informed decisions about their legal options. If you are concerned about a sick building and need advice, you can submit a case inquiry here, or to call our toll-free number at 732.355.1311.