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A Journal on Internal Medicine and Pharmacology

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Gazzetta Medica Italiana Archivio per le Scienze Mediche 2005 February;164(1):23-7

language: English

Sick building syndrome in office workers

Proietti L., Longo B., Gulino S., La Rocca G., Bonanno G., Vasta N.

Occupational Medicine Unit, Department of Internal Medicine and Systemic Pathologies, University of Catania, Catania, Italy


Aim. Aim of the study was to identify the sources of discomfort or disease, to examine the effects on various health outcomes of 250 employees being exposed to air-conditioning systems, and the prevalence of work-related sources of complaints and symptoms.
Methods. Two hundred and forty office workers employed in an air conditioned building (building A), and 180 working in building naturally ventilated (building B), completed the questionnaire investigating work-related complaints.
Results. A study demonstrated that employees who worked in building A experienced a statistically higher prevalence of symptoms that were characteristic of the sick building syndrome (SBS): eye, skin, and upper airway irritation, as well as headaches, dizziness, ailments and fatigue. Also a significantly higher percentage of workers in the same building reported work-related complaints as compared with the controls. Inadequate maintenance of the building’s air-conditioning plant, inappropriate temperature, and tobacco smoke may have contributed to the symptoms.
Conclusion. This study confirms that there are many problems arising from the relationship between man, the environment and buildings, some of which are difficult to explain. These problems have produced, in recent years, a desire for architecture safeguarding both the environment and man, routed on the following principles: choice of ecological materials in the field of construction, utilisation of renewable materials, and application of energy-saving techniques (double facades, micro-climatic facings, massive buildings), all inserted within a socio-economic and cultural context.

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