Sick building syndrome

The term sick building syndrome ( engl. sick building syndrome " Sick House Syndrome"; short SBS ) or building disease describes a situation in which occupants of a building symptoms of diseases associated with too much time in a building to seem to be having - but no specific cause can be identified.

After a review of the Department of Engineering and Architecture of the University of Lucerne, the WHO distinguishes between two types of SBS: the temporary SBS, which describes those complaints shortly after the occupation of a building and the permanent SBS, which stops constantly even after the reference.


According to international convention (WHO 1982, MULHAAVE 1989) is then of a Sick Building Syndrome ( SBS) speaking, if non-specific complaints or symptoms occur in more than 10 to 20 % of the employees of a building, which will go away quickly once you have left the building. Causes of Sick Building Syndrome can not be determined with absolute certainty. Possible causes may be pollutants that are present in the indoor air. These include, for example, toxic fumes, so-called volatile organic compounds, which are released by specific sources, for example from newly attached materials such as floor and carpet glue and toxins from furniture ( paints, inks and coatings ), as well as minerals from insulation materials, materials for pest control, and cleaning agents. Also can get into the air by not or poorly maintained air conditioning systems or in recirculation circuits, if necessary, pollutants, odors, pollen, fungal spores and germs. In addition, the tobacco smoke is important. Some of these substances are classified as carcinogenic.

Symptoms and complaints

The symptom complexes are summarized by various authors and experts in a variety of disease descriptions, such as eco - syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS syndrome) or Sick Building Syndrome, a phenomenon in which those affected due to a " sickening " building feel sick. Current estimates suggest that in Germany about 400,000 people are affected by such sensitivities to chemicals, reports the German Allergy and Asthma Association (DAAB ).

Under an eco- syndrome is a loud " White Paper allergy" disease patterns associated with different, very subjective complaints, " connected with the conviction that we are ill due to environmental pollutants ." In the public discussion, the term often used interchangeably to multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS syndrome) will be used. Physicians define the term but a lot of complaints that are associated with chemical substances. These are but present in extremely low concentrations, so that they generally no longer considered harmful. With conventional detection methods can be feststellen.Unwohlsein no clear cause for the disease, fatigue and insomnia are rather minor complaints.

However, allergies, headaches, immune system damage, irritation of the eyes and respiratory tract and disorders of kidney and liver function imply a significant limitations in daily life and reduce the quality of life. Even depression can be triggered. Because some substances classified as carcinogenic, a pollution of indoor air can even lead not only to an SBS, but in severe cases, to cancer.

Legal guidelines for the prevention

For about 20,000 different materials and products throughout Europe, the European Construction Products Directive and the German Bauproduktgesetz is the legal basis. The CE marking (Conformité Européenne, European Conformity ), the evidence for the European internal market. For "Hygiene, health and environmental protection" apply national rules. With the CE marking, the manufacturer confirms that the product complies with the relevant EC directives and compliance with the specified therein " essential requirements ". Underneath, - equal in the first place - the release of toxic gases. In Germany in 1997, the Committee was established for the health assessment of construction products, AgBB short. The AgBB developed the evaluation scheme for the health assessment of the emission of volatile organic compounds from building products that are used in indoor use.

Measures to improve air quality

To better address this problem, it is necessary that really the window is opened regularly. The best is airing every few hours for about ten minutes.

Natural air filter: plants improve the indoor air greatly and contribute to greater well-being. They work in the home as a natural air filter and remove toxins under certain conditions, and so neutralize harmful vapors in the interior.

The U.S. space agency NASA has been working for over 20 years within a space subproject thus to eliminate environmental toxins from enclosed spaces. These researchers found that there are a few plants that can absorb toxins from the air.

Technical measures: All Volatile organic compounds and many chemical compounds can be safely eliminated by the installation of ionizing units with ionisation into the respective ventilation systems of buildings. But small Ionisationsmodule improve the ion concentration in residential buildings and can be implemented in the controlled ventilation.