Sick Building Syndrome: Is Your Home Making You Sick?

Michael Rubino

December 15

Sick building syndrome was coined years ago to describe the current issues leading to our indoor environments causing unwanted exposure. Here's what you need to know to avoid this increasingly prevalent issue. 

If you tend to feel unwell when at home, but fine when you go outside or move to another location, you’re not losing your mind. It’s quite possible that your home is causing you to feel ill. “Sick Building Syndrome was coined by the World Health Organization in 1986, one year after a mysterious Lake Tahoe outbreak of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS),” according to Michael Rubino, a mold and air quality expert, environmental wellness advocate, and founder of HomeCleanse.

And Rubino, who is also president of Change the Air Foundation, and host of the Mold Talks podcast, tells me that it’s quite possible to develop symptoms of illness or become infected with chronic disease as a result of being exposed to contaminants and poor indoor air quality. This can happen in homes, offices, schools — any type of building.

De De Gardner, DrPH, RRT, RRT-NPS, a fellow of the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC), agrees. “Sick Building Syndrome is a situation where building occupants experience acute health effects and discomfort that are linked to time spent in the building and no specific cause of illness can be identified.” (This is different from Building-Related Illness (BRI), since in the latter case, Gardner says the symptoms of diagnosable illness are identified and can be directly attributed to airborne building contaminants.)

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