Talk:Sick building syndrome

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place of work?[edit]

Does the building have to be a 'place of work'? Well, if you define 'work' broadly enough, I suppose so. But one can suffer from SBS whilst lying in one's own bed in ones own bedroom in ones own home. This would not normally be considered a place of work, until someone, e.g. a builder, came along to do some work in it.

It depends on the source. The EPA definition refers to "occupants of a building," the UK's National Health Service refers to people in particular buildings and adds "most commonly...employed in large office buildings," and this OSU fact sheet refers to "symptoms of people in specific buildings." The Merck Manual defines it as affecting only workers in a building, not residents. claims that it's synonymous with multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), which is supported by the wikipedia article on that topic, but I think that's dubious, and wikipedia's MCS article doesn't provide a source supporting that. -Agyle 08:20, 16 September 2007 (UTC)

Tobacco Industry Creation?[edit]

I heard that Sick building syndrome was invented but the Tobacco Industry to cover up the dangers of passive smoking. Just an observation. Australian Reference --Z o l t a r 14:19, 20 April 2006 (UTC)

According to the referenced article that's not the case. It uses word "embraced". So the term or syndrome existed before and industry just said that there's more to indoor air pollution than smoke. -edit : this response was on the assumption that "but" above is actually "by" since otherwise the sentence doesn't make any sense.
That was my understanding too. Although I guess some buildings really do have (non-smoking) features that are less than healthy. Anyway, it looks like you're more au fait with sources, so it'd be cool if you could edit to this effect. Cheers, --Plumbago 15:00, 20 April 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps at its time of invention that was the case, but its been a long time since smoking was allowed in many of the public buildings in the United States. Most of the Sick Building Syndrome cases come from Microbial Contaminaion of the HVAC, poor Air Flow and people allergic to VOC from things like plastics and carpets. Stoppay 16:49, 21 December 2006 (UTC)


Example of good (right) and bad (left) ventilation

Could someone comment on the image shown in this article ? Why is it supposed to have something to do with the sick building syndrome? --Abdull 09:04, 8 July 2006 (UTC)

Also, could someone explain why one is good and the other is bad? Just that photo is not explicative. --CrazyTerabyte 01:15, 9 September 2006 (UTC)
dito. Because nobody can explain the image, I'll put it here. Micha 14:48, 2 October 2006 (UTC)
Indeed, isn't one drawing air in, the other out? Both are needed for ventilation of any space. You can't ventilate if old air isn't drawn out, and you can't ventilate if new air isn't drawn in. This image is very misleading. DILNN1 (talk) 19:30, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
The picture shows an unnecessarily dangerous method of tracing airflow, and is irrelevant to this article. Reify-tech (talk) 14:18, 17 October 2015 (UTC)
I was thinking of creating on article on "Accidental Stupid Arson". This image will be perfect. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:38, 14 June 2018 (UTC)[edit]

The Google Map of green/sick buildings doesn't appear to say anywhere on it that that is its purpose. In fact, it seems to be about whether a site is contributing to global warming. 22:51, 15 November 2006 (UTC)

I agree that the linked site is probably not intended to be used in the way the article was suggesting. I think the link was likely added in good faith, but the purpose of the site might have been misunderstood. To keep any well-intentioned Wikipedians from contributing potentially unwanted data points to, I've removed the link pending a response from the proprietors. If they have no problem with their site being used as described, I'll put it back in. In the meantime, the deleted text is included below. Cecilkorik 22:15, 14 June 2007 (UTC)

A public built Green / Sick Building Google Map is now live for individuals to mark potentially harmful buildings.

Resources for the article[edit]

This is a place to list reliable resources for the page which have not been incorporated yet. Feel free to cut or strike as they are used, and list others, but be brief.

II | (t - c) 21:01, 13 July 2008 (UTC)


Potentially deadly mold? Really? I'll believe that when I see a source, and the current citation leads to a 404 error. Removing until then. (talk) 02:45, 22 December 2011 (UTC)

Critical Questions[edit]

I deleted the critical question portion. I did not find any value in it and seemed to discredit the rest of the article without sufficient citations.. Furthermore it seemed to go against the following wikipedia policy as it came across as a controversy subsection.

"Editors should avoid having a separate section in an article devoted to criticism, controversies,
or the like because these sections call undue attention to negative viewpoints. 
Instead, articles should present positive and negative viewpoints from reliable sources together, 
fairly, proportionately, and without bias. [1]"

Until citations can be applied and the portion re-written I don't see any point in maintaining it. Xphill64x (talk) 03:40, 13 June 2014 (UTC)

Well, if it is the target, the article can be deleted at all becase it is all nonsence similar to other green-based modern religions. It is evident. Some since-like published works does not change it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:00, 16 December 2017 (UTC)


This article does not take into consideration new research. There are more factors affecting health than those taken into account here. Sound is not taken into account, but a major issue. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:13, 9 January 2017 (UTC)

Popular usage and scope of article[edit]

To improve this article much further, we really need to get a handle on what people are talking (and searching) about most often when they refer to "sick building syndrome", and how we're going to reconcile or split the different definitions of the term. To start with, here's the most prominent ways I've found people using the phrase "sick building syndrome":

  • A set of non-specific symptoms/complaints associated with air conditioning systems in general (eg here)
  • Any syndrome or set of symptoms associated with known or unknown aerosol irritant exposure including tobacco smoke, combustion exhaust, monoxide, radon, formaldehyde, asbestos, dust, lead paint, etc (eg Rogers' "Tight Building Syndrome", Joshi 2008)
  • As above but with bioaerosol irritants like dust mites, pollen, viruses, bacteria, fungi, insect matter (eg here)
  • A generic term encompassing Legionnaire's, Pontiac fever, allergic alveolitis, "humidifier fever", pneumonia (!), occupational asthma, ie basically any illness associated with man-made structures (eg see Joshi 2008)
  • Symptoms that the patient believes are building-related, but are in fact due to other causes such as preexisting illnesses, asthma, allergies, stress, job dissatisfaction, psychological problems, somatization, etc etc (eg Joshi 2008)
  • Hypothetical harmful effects of electromagnetic radiation or magnetic fields (eg Joshi 2008 again)
  • In the HVAC industry to refer to the undesirable situation/outcome of people complaining about a building's climate/air quality (eg Joshi 2008, US EPA, architectural consultants, other articles here)
  • In the management industry the same way, with emphasis on the loss of productivity and absenteeism (eg see above, OSHA, people who sell air quality tests, business blogs)
  • By pop psychologists and journalists as a... mystery thing in the same category as CFS, "MCS", "Gulf War Syndrome", "post-vaccination phenomena", etc (eg medicinenet,, this article about Finland)

Yeesh. So basically there are 3 major perspectives people (and sources) approach SBS from:

  1. We can go along with the journalistic-narrative, public-health style approach and treat "SBS" as one overarching "mystery syndrome" with many possible symptoms, mechanisms, causes, etc. Serious studies have chosen to go with this approach like this one from Taiwan and it can be justified by the statistics-based view that most syndromes are ultimately a blend of all kinds of different risk factors and unknown variables.
  2. Or we could approach skeptically with an individual scientific medicine article style and slice off chunks as needed, directing people to the articles on asthma, pollution, air quality, HVAC systems, occupational air hazards, health effects of <insert poison>, etc. Clean and rational, but basically requires pretending that this isn't a widespread phenomenon of public interest.
  3. Could also go at it from a business/industry perspective. Attractive since it's simple and straightforward: no 20 paragraphs of medicosociopsychological speculation etc. On the other hand it doesn't come close to telling the whole story.

Ultimately we'll need to cover all 3 perspectives to serve all readers. Current article incoherently hints at that by kinda mashing them together at random. Good first step might be to pull out and consolidate the clinical material (ie all the info written by/for medical providers and patients) into its own section/article, then separate the HVAC/OSHA/arch/eco info into something like "causes and solutions", and leave the main article to deal with SBS in general as a public health phenomenon. Thoughts? -- bornLoser (talk) 18:35, 5 June 2018 (UTC)