If you work inside of an enclosed office building day in and day out, then take note. The air you’re breathing in might be making you sick. Despite the progress that’s been made in reducing six of the most dangerous toxins in the air, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports there’s still a lot of progress that needs to be made.
No matter if your workplace is new or old, poor air quality surrounds you. In fact, according to the EPA, 25 percent of new or renovated buildings are thought to be responsible for reported cases of sick building syndrome. Of the top six pollutants, carbon monoxide, lead, and ozone are seen as most responsible for instances of building-related illnesses, an issue that results in billions in lost profits annually.
Although most would expect the quality of indoor air always to be superior to that of the outdoors, that’s not always the case. Office buildings, particularly those that sit atop parking garages or ones that have loading docks, are particularly hazardous to one’s health as carbon monoxide only has to travel as far as the air vents of your building to become part of the air you breathe.
Second-hand smoke, construction dust, and car exhaust fumes, each of which enters — either through open windows, doors, or air vents — are also largely to blame for illnesses as well. And, when it comes to printers, copiers, and fax machines in your office, they are toxic to your health, largely because of the ozone they emit which combines with organic chemicals to create a toxic mess.
As for building-related illnesses associated with this poor air quality, they range from relatively minor to severe. Among the relatively minor conditions, are such symptoms as fever, chills, headaches and body aches, all consistent with a respiratory infection or cold. One severe illness is pneumonia, which starts with a bacterial growth that travels through your building’s cooling system. Others include asthma, allergies, and cancer, the first two resulting from an individual having been exposed to both dust and mold and the latter attributed to exposure to pesticides or asbestos.
If you suspect you’ve sustained an injury or illness as a result of your employer not having maintained proper workplace safety, a Queens, New York worker’ compensation attorney can provide advice and guidance in your legal matter.
Source: HealthDay, “Sick Building Syndrome: Is Your Office Making You Sick?,” Chris Woolston, March 15, 2017