The Building Environment & Your Health

NEGATIVE EFFECTS ON THE MEMORY

Memory is the faculty of the mind by which information is encoded, stored, and retrieved.

Memory is vital to experiences, and related to the limbic systems.

It is the retention of information over time for the purpose of influencing future action.

If we could not remember past events, we could not learn or develop language, relationships, nor personal identity.

In healthy buildings certain standards are followed in order to reduce hazards that can affect the human brain and memory.

One of the first rules for a healthy building, is that they must conduct asbestos inspections every three years through an accredited professional in order to know that they remain clear of the poisonous human carcinogen, known as asbestos, which is a deadly substance.

In older buildings, testing, evaluation, and asbestos abatement must be conducted without fail.

Before any construction, an evaluation and abatement must be conducted on a property. An on-site investigation of the space will generally be conducted by a certified risk-assessor or inspector in order to determine the presence of any lead-based or mercury hazards in the paint, dust or soil in and around the building.

As asbestos is a critically damaging substance and can severely affect the brain and memory, this is why building owners have very strict guidelines to abide by, not only for future occupants, but also for construction workers.

Working together we can make healthier living environments, buildings and communities, I invite you to join us.

 

NERVOUS SYSTEM DIFFICULTIES

The nervous system is a complex network of nerves and cells that carry messages from the brain and spinal cord to various parts of the body.

The nervous system includes both the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system. The nervous system detects environmental changes that impact the body, and then works in tandem with the endocrine system to respond to such events.

The symptoms of a nervous system problem depend on which area of the nervous system is involved and what is causing the problem. Nervous system problems may occur slowly and cause a gradual loss of function, also know as degenerative. A nervous system problem may also occur suddenly and cause life-threatening problems, also known as acute problems.

Nervous system difficulties are caused by organic contaminants, ingested through water. Occupants who are exposed to relatively large amounts of these contaminants may suffer damage to the nervous system.

Organic contaminants like polychlorinated biphenyls and vinyl chloride in drinking water can cause a range of adverse health effects.

In healthy buildings all water being delivered to the building area for human consumption must be clean and filtered, and should meet the standard limits of Organic Pollutants.

Contaminants like Styrene, Benzene, Ethylbenzene, Polychlorinated Biphenyls, Vinyl Chloride, Toluene, Xylene and Tetra-chloro-ethylene must be strictly within the limits specified.

Working together we can make healthier living environments, buildings and communities, I invite you to join us.

 

NEGATIVE EFFECT OF BISPHENOL-A (BPA)

BPA stands for bisphenol, and nowadays you would’ve probably heard of things that are BPA-free, such as drinking bottles and plastic food coverings.

BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s. Chances are that you have tried to avoid BPA, given its negative effects in so many studies.

Findings have indicated that high-level exposure to BPA may increase the risk of erectile dysfunction and problems with sexual desire and ejaculation. Although avoiding it completely may be impossible, there are some ways to go about it.

Healthy buildings should promote effective ways to minimize your exposure to BPA, and this can begin with avoiding packaged foods, drinking from glass bottles and not plastic bottles, staying away from products that are not marked as BPA-free products, not using microwavable plastic, not buying powdered infant formula, and even being selective with toys!

Pots, pans and other cooking tools used to prepare food should be entirely be made of one or more of the following inert materials, such as: ceramics, cast iron, stainless steel, glass and wood.

If you are to choose a plastic cutting board over a wood cutting board, know that cutting boards must also follow these BPA-free standards. Preferably a cutting board should be made of marble, glass, pyroceram, solid (non-laminated) wood that is untreated, or treated with food-grade mineral or linseed oil. They should also be replaced when they turn excessively worn or have deep grooves from cutting.

Healthy buildings should also ensure that their cafes and food prep areas use BPA-free pots, pans, cutting boards, cutlery and more.

Working together we can make healthier living environments, buildings and communities, I invite you to join us.

 

THE BUILDING ENVIRONMENT & THE IQ

An intelligence quotient (IQ) is a total score derived from several standardized tests designed to assess human intelligence.

By this definition, approximately two-thirds of the population’s scores are between IQ 85 and IQ 115. About 5 percent of the population’s scores are above IQ 125, and 5 percent of scores below IQ 75. Healthy buildings or environments can both negatively and positively affect a human’s IQ level, as proven in various studies.

According to CDC studies, in over a 25-year period, IQs have increased by 4%. It is clear that the quality of our environment can impact us in many ways, and that even unhealthy building material choices can negatively affect the IQ.

In healthy buildings certain standards are followed in order to reduce the negative impact on the IQ. By following a healthy building standard, it can positively affect IQ, for example asbestos and lead restriction, polychlorinated biphenyl abatement and mercury limitation, can only lead to a much healthier living environment, and in turn a healthier body and brain.

As asbestos is a critically damaging substance and can severely affect the brain and IQ of an individual, this is why building owners have very strict guidelines to abide by, not only for future occupants, but also for construction workers.

Buildings must also conduct asbestos inspections every three years through an accredited professional, and in older buildings, the testing, evaluation and abatement must be strictly conducted, to avoid any known human carcinogens from entering the building and impacting on our health.

Before any construction, an evaluation and abatement must be conducted on a property. An on-site investigation of the space will generally be conducted by a certified risk-assessor (or inspector) who will determine the presence of any lead or mercury-based hazards in the paint, dust or soil, in and around the building.

Working together we can make healthier living environments, buildings and communities, I invite you to join us.

 

NEGATIVE EFFECT ON LEARNING

Learning is a process that leads to change, and it occurs as a result of both experience and the increase in the potential of improved performance and future learning. It is the act of acquiring new knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences, or modifying and reinforcing the existing ones.

This may lead to a potential change in the way we synthesize information, our depth of knowledge, and our attitude and behavior in relation to various types of experiences.

The Environmental Protection Agency has declared that indoor air quality is a greater health hazard than outdoor air. Which is quite an interesting and unexpected find! What we have learnt is that pollutants can be up to 100 times higher in an enclosed indoor space, than in an outdoor open-air space.

The six most dangerous indoor air pollutants are: asbestos, carbon monoxide, lead, mold, radon and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Studies have proven that air pollutants affect the learning capabilities and behavior of both children and adults.

In healthy buildings certain standards are followed in order to reduce this negative effect on learning. By enforcing Asbestos and Lead restrictions, Polychlorinated Biphenyl Abatement and Mercury Limitations, this can reduce the effects greatly. Buildings must also conduct asbestos inspections every three years through an accredited professional, and in older buildings, the testing, evaluation and abatement must be strictly conducted.

Before any construction, an evaluation and abatement must be conducted on a property. An on-site investigation of the space will generally be conducted by a certified risk-assessor (or inspector) who will determine the presence of any lead or mercury-based hazards in the paint, dust or soil, in and around the building.

As asbestos is a critically damaging substance and can severely affect the brain and learning capabilities of an individual, this is why building owners have very strict guidelines to abide by, not only for future occupants, but also for construction workers.

Working together we can make healthier living environments, buildings and communities, I invite you to join us.

 

PATHOGENIC MICRO-ORGANISMS IN FOOD

The word ‘pathogenic’ refers to disease-causing micro-organisms, such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, and molds, these micro-organisms can cause food-borne infections and intoxications, and be very dangerous to a healthy building and a healthy body. These dangerous pathogens occur in foods that are not stored or cooked within proper temperature ranges.

There are several means through which a pathogen can contaminate food, such as with raw food and raw ingredients, improper cooking or heat processing and inadequate storage temperatures –for example, leaving cooked food to sit in room temperature for a long period of time. Moreover, if there are several hours in between preparation and consumption of food, then this can also cause pathogens to multiply. Cooking food below 65°C carries a risk of infection, and any type of cooking below this temperature is considered an inadequate means to cook or reheat food.

A healthy building can reduce the spread of pathogens through proper refrigeration of food –below 5 degrees centigrade; by keeping leftovers separate to other food; by ensuring proper cooking temperatures of at least 100 degrees centigrade; and by proper handling and packaging of food.

In a kitchen space, there should be at least one removable and cleanable drawer or container, designated and labeled for storing different items such as raw foods (uncooked meat, fish and poultry), vegetables, and drinks. All food stuffs should be stored separately and per their category.

A visual display of holding temperatures should also be available in each kitchen, and easy to read, in order to ensure accurate storage and cooking temperatures.

Working together we can make healthier living environments, buildings and communities, I invite you to join us.

 

REDUCED CONCENTRATION

Difficulty concentrating is a normal and periodic occurrence for most people. Tiredness and emotional stress can cause concentration problems in most people, as can hormonal changes, such as those experienced during menopause or pregnancy.

Concentration problems, when present to an excessive degree, are also characteristic of certain physical and psychological conditions. The hallmark condition associated with difficulty in concentrating is a condition known as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This is a condition that has been increasingly diagnosed in both children and adults in recent years.

Well-designed, well-constructed and well-maintained buildings can help to improve the focus and concentration of individuals. With proper acoustic planning, and separate loud and quiet zones, this can be easily achieved.

When an individual can work or live in a “quiet zone” his or her mental performance and concentration will increase, resulting in lesser aural distractions & interruptions.

Once the interior of a building is complete, in order to reduce aural distractions and interruptions, maximum noise criteria should be tested and evaluated before occupancy begins.

Open office spaces and lobbies that are regularly occupied and/or contain workstations must have a maximum noise criteria (NC) of 40, while enclosed offices must have maximum noise criteria (NC) of 35. Conference rooms and breakout rooms must have a maximum noise criteria (NC) of 25- 30 and teleconference rooms must have maximum noise criteria (NC) of 20.

Working together we can make healthier living environments, buildings and communities, I invite you to join us.

 

RESPIRATORY SYMPTOMS & THE BUILDING ENVIRONMENT

The indoor air of a building theoretically contains many elements, which can be hazardous to an occupant’s health. Occupants continuously exposed to these air contaminants can end up with an array of respiratory issues.

Air contaminant sources can be anything in the building, from an inadequate ventilation system to a poor assessment of the filtration system, humidity, the use of poor construction materials, high levels of formaldehyde, asbestos and radon, clogged filters, and combustion sources.

Exposure to any of these elements can cause respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath, cough, recurrent lung infections, restrictive lung diseases, asthma and various forms of cancer.

In healthy buildings, these symptoms can be reduced by proper ventilation and filtration assessment, and adequate indoor ventilation. Indoor ventilation will ensure that indoor air is replaced by fresh air regularly, and that contaminated air will be exhausted by mechanical or natural means.

A separate area must be designated to store and protect materials, which absorb easily, especially during construction, as moisture absorption can cause respiratory illnesses.

In a healthy building, precautions must also be taken for dust transfer. All active work areas must be isolated from other spaces by sealed doorways or windows, or through the use of temporary barriers. Walk-off mats must also be used at all entrances to reduce the transfer of dirt and pollutants, and all ventilation ducts should be protected and filters checked regularly. Ventilation ducts should especially be sealed and protected from possible contamination during construction and should be vacuumed prior to installation.

Working together we can make healthier living environments, buildings and communities, I invite you to join us.

 

REDUCED REACTION TIMES

Reaction time is explained as, time elapse between a person being presented with a stimulus, and that person initiating a motor response to that stimulus.

Reaction time is actually a measure of how quickly a person can respond to a particular stimulus. This happens constantly in every day life, often subconsciously –from avoiding people and objects when walking, to obeying traffic signals, we are constantly reacting to stimuli in our everyday environments.

There are many factors that can affect a person’s reaction time, from external traffic and air craft noise to physical fitness, fatigue and distraction. Sensory stimuli, such as background noise or being engaged in another task, can also decrease an individual’s reaction times. This is why even with a hands free kit it is advisable not to use your cell phone whilst driving, the distraction will slow your reaction time when multi-tasking with physical activity.

Distracting our mind to something that is unimportant, can affect one’s reaction time, and moreover, can cause accidents or misunderstandings between people.

In a healthy building, reducing noise pollution should be the number one concern for a building owner. Noise pollution can often be the cause of slower reaction times in an occupant, and for this reason noise control and management is of the utmost importance.

To form an isolated building environment, one that can improve reaction time, we can reduce acoustic disruptions and external noise by using acoustic laminated glass to envelop the building’s interior –meaning that the ceiling, walls, and floor will use the glass to improve the overall sound, and bouncing of sound, to all areas of a room, in order to maintain a pleasant indoor environment. The average sound-pressure levels from outside noise intrusion should never reach more than 50 dB.

Working together we can make healthier living environments, buildings and communities, I invite you to join us.

 

MATH ANXIETY IN THE BUILDING ENVIRONMENT

Math anxiety (MA) has been defined as ‘a feeling of tension and anxiety that interferes with the manipulation of numbers and the solving of math problems in a wide variety of ordinary life and academic situations’.

Noise in open-plan offices may reduce the well-being and performance of an individual, and thus cause the onset of math anxiety. Occupants in such offices may even experience higher absences from work than occupants in cellular offices.

Field studies have shown that noise is one of the most common causes of complaints in offices. Phones ringing at vacant workspaces or people’s chatting, these are said to be the most highly rated of the disturbing noises in an open-plan office.

It has been suggested that acoustic distraction caused by irrelevant speech, impedes cognitive performance and augments performance stress. It not only reduces mental arithmetic performance but also reduces general concentration and results in aural distractions & interruptions.

In a healthy building, mental arithmetic performance can be increased by maintaining acoustic plans, and managing them well over the long term. By separating loud and quiet zones, and keeping noisy equipment in separate locations, distractions to an occupant can be greatly reduced.

Noise criteria requirements must be met for an open office space to be successful, but must also extend to lobbies that are regularly occupied, enclosed offices, conference rooms, breakout rooms and teleconference rooms. In order to prevent the anxiety that can come with mental arithmetic performance, aka math anxiety, a building must ensure the sound levels and acoustics meet noise criteria standards prior to completion and prior to the commencement of business in the building.

Working together we can make healthier living environments, buildings and communities, I invite you to join us.

 

STOMACH DISCOMFORT & THE BUILDING ENVIRONMENT

Water is a necessary element for our digestive tract to work properly. However, it’s not only the quantity of water that is important, but also the quality of water, and it’s important that we discuss this.

Stomach discomfort can come from an array of different things, the most common being an allergic reaction, and many of these allergic reactions will often come from chemicals that have been added to the water, such as a disinfectants.

Chlorine and chloramine-based disinfectants are often used as they are believed to protect water from bacterial contamination.

Another toxic chemical we will often find in water is Fluoride, especially in tap water. Some believe fluoride benefits in reducing dental cavities, however, it is quite a poisonous substance taken in high levels, and people often have stomach discomfort from drinking fluorinated water at even low levels.

In healthy buildings, water-testing programs should be held on a regular basis to reduce water-related stomach discomfort in occupants. Standards for water being delivered to the building area for human consumption should have the lowest amounts required of fluoride and other water-cleaning chemicals, as well as contaminants such as lead, mercury, arsenic, atrazine, copper, and cadmium, as these are the leading causes of diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and other stomach problems.

Tap and well-water should also be properly sanitized to prevent viral and bacterial gastroenteritis, which causes inflammation of the stomach, small and large intestines.

Working together we can make healthier living environments, buildings and communities, I invite you to join us.

 

THYROID PROBLEMS IN THE BUILDING ENVIRONMENT

Environmental chemicals are often the cause of thyroid-disruption. Pregnant women and infants are especially at risk, as thyroid disruption in the fetus may have detrimental effects on neurological development.

Many studies have focused on the effects of environmental chemicals on the thyroid, specifying various chemical compounds, such as those found in herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers, however long-term human studies are still not available.

The human exposure scenario with lifelong exposure to a vast mixture of chemicals in low doses and the large physiological variation in thyroid hormone levels between individuals makes human studies very difficult.

However, there is now reasonably firm evidence that proves that pesticides have thyroid-disrupting effects, and there is emerging evidence that phthalates, bisphenol-A, brominated flame-Retardants and perfluorinated chemicals may also be disruptive to the thyroid.

With Atrazine, Simazine, Glyphosate, 2,4- Di-chlorophenoxyacetic acid, these will only be added in limited quantities to the water in order to prevent the harm caused by acute poisoning or long-term, cumulative exposure.

The side effects of these chemicals all range from mild to deadly, and can lead to thyroid, kidney, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal problems, as well as endocrine disruption, reproductive difficulties, and much more .

Working together we can make healthier living environments, buildings and communities, I invite you to join us.

 

UNHEALTHY BUILDINGS & EYE IRRITATION

There is a significant correlation between indoor air quality and eye irritation, throat irritation, and symptoms of blurred vision.

Ocular discomfort is an indicator of bad indoor air quality. So the measurements of carbon dioxide, formaldehyde, temperature, and humidity should be checked on regular basis.

Byproducts of indoor air chemicals can cause sensory irritation to the eyes and airways as well as skin irritation, the most common of these include: formaldehyde, hydro-peroxides, as well as fine and ultrafine particles of dust or other substances. Moreover eye irritation or chemically-caused conjunctivitis –inflammation of the thin transparent tissue that covers the white of the eye—is often caused by the swimming in chlorinated pools.

In healthy buildings, after substantial completion of the building, and prior to occupancy, the HVAC system installed should undergo testing and balancing, and then should have regular testing each year.

It is imperative for a healthy building to have a demand-controlled ventilation system installed, one that regulates the ventilation rate of outdoor air, in order to keep indoor carbon dioxide levels within healthy and legal standards.

In addition to this, an operational record of the air filtration system must be always be maintained, along with ‘odor separation’ methods to reduce irritation.

Proper design of internal and external wet areas is also key. Standards for water being delivered to the building for human consumption must be strictly followed, to include: adding the right amount of fluoride to the water, and cleaning the dangerous or unnecessary chemicals and by products from the drinking water.

Working together we can make healthier living environments, buildings and communities, I invite you to join us.

 

UNHEALTHY BUILDINGS & THROAT IRRITATION

Throat irritation can refer to many things that affect the sinus and especially the throat area. A dry cough, a scratchy or lumpy feeling at the back of the throat, or even the sensation of something stuck at the back of the throat. These are all symptoms of throat irritation, and most are as a result of allergies.

An allergic reaction occurs when a substance called an ‘allergen’ triggers an immune system response in the body. Problems with polluted air and poor indoor air-quality have grown much worse over the years, especially for workers in offices.

People who may be exposed to indoor air pollutants for long periods of time are often at higher risk of experiencing throat irritation. Most indoor air pollution comes from harmful gases or particles coming from the external environment, such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, radon and smoke.

In healthy buildings, after substantial completion of the building, and prior to occupancy, the HVAC system installed should undergo testing and balancing, and then should have regular testing each year.

It is imperative for a healthy building to have a demand-controlled ventilation system installed, one that regulates the ventilation rate of outdoor air, in order to keep indoor carbon dioxide levels within healthy and legal standards.

In addition to this, an operational record of the air filtration system must be always be maintained, along with ‘odor separation’ methods to reduce irritation.

Proper design of internal and external wet areas is also key to preventing throat irritation, as well as controlling the carbon dioxide levels in the building.

Working together we can make healthier living environments, buildings and communities, I invite you to join us.

 

RESPIRATORY IRRITATION & THE BUILDING ENVIRONMENT

Respiratory irritation is mainly caused by respiratory irritants. These substances cause inflammation or other adverse reactions in the respiratory system –lungs, nose, mouth, larynx and trachea—and can be extremely damaging to an individual’s quality of life.

Examples of respiratory irritants include tobacco smoke, ozone, sulphur dioxide or nitrogen oxides.

Respiratory irritations can often be triggered by indoor air quality coming from outdoor contaminated air, such as: pollen, dust and vehicle exhaust fumes. Other elements which can also affect the respiratory system include: emission by home appliances, soil gases such as radon, leakage from underground fuel tanks, fertilizers and pesticides, moisture, and standing water after rainfall.

In order to protect occupants from these hazardous particles, a healthy building’s filtration system should operate as per HVAC standards, should strictly adhere to regular scheduled assessments, and keep strict operational air quality records on hand.

Off-gassing from some materials can contribute to sick building syndrome, therefore standards for material selection must be followed closely. Rooms that contain printers and copiers, as well as cleaning rooms, chemical storage units and bathrooms, must be properly ventilated, with the air being exhausted rather than re-circulated, and air moisture must be controlled.

To avoid coarse and fine particulate matter from entering the indoor work and living space, an air filtration performance must also be regularly checked, and filters in the ventilation ducts must be provided and regularly changed, also ensuring there are no leaks and gaps in the ventilation system.

Working together we can make healthier living environments, buildings and communities, I invite you to join us.

 

HEADACHES & THE BUILDING ENVIRONMENT

Headache is explained as being any kind of pain affecting any region of the head, and may occur on one or both sides of the head, isolated to a certain location, or radiating across the head from one point to another.

Headaches may appear as a sharp pain, a throbbing sensation or a dull ache developing suddenly or gradually over time. They may last from less than an hour to several days in extreme cases.

Headaches tend to be associated with excess oxygen usage, which may explain why some building designs give us headaches more than others. Typically, oxygen usage is greater when people look at uncomfortable images, such as urban scenes.

People who get migraines are particularly susceptible to the discomfort from repetitive patterns, which also increase the use of oxygen and give rise to headaches. Indeed, some individuals with migraines cannot function in certain modern offices, because the patterns bring on a headache every time they enter the building.

Other factors that trigger headaches include improper mechanical cooling systems, which can often be identified through a discoloration or mold on the ceiling, walls or floors.

In healthy buildings, the triggers that affect headaches by following certain building standards. To begin with, there should be no air leaks or gaps in the building itself, and VOC standards should be followed. Assessments must also be conducted regularly and properly, to ensure this, and to ensure that there are no harmful gases in the building.

Due to moisture condensation, mold can grow on cooling coils in HVAC systems thus introducing this into the building’s indoor air, this is why precautions for mechanical HVAC system must be taken seriously. In addition to this, clean water sources that contain the proper amounts of minerals and metals must also be readily available in the building.

Working together we can make healthier living environments, buildings and communities, I invite you to join us.

 

NAUSEA & THE BUILDING ENVIRONMENT

Sometimes indoor air quality can actually be better than outdoor air quality, depending on pollution levels. When an individual suffers from nausea, more than often this can be pinned down to bad indoor air quality.

Occupants in high-rises, particularly those over parking garages or loading docks, may be breathing in carbon monoxide carried into the building through the building’s air vents, and if smokers are chatting outside next to an air vent, well occupants inside the building may even be inhaling secondhand smoke through the ventilation system without even knowing it!

Believe it or not, there are many things in the indoor space that emit dangerous chemicals. Printers emit ozone into the air when used and unvented, as do exterminator and pesticide sprays, carpet cleaners, cleaning products and even odorizing products. These chemicals can stay in the air long after their use, are all easily able to trigger nausea in occupants, so should therefore be used sparingly.

In healthy buildings, the use of combustion-based appliances are prohibited in order to control PFCs which causes hypoxia and nausea.

To reduce particulate matter emissions from both on-road and non-road diesel fueled vehicles and construction equipment, all equipment vehicles, loading and unloading, must be located far away from air intake vents and far from operable building openings, such as doors and open windows.

Equipment used for heating, cooling, water-heating, process heating, or power generation, must meet California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District rules for pollution, and the water delivered to a building must also follow the standards for turbidity (cloudiness) and reduced coliform bacteria. In addition to this, a building must follow strict standards to control the emission of harmful gases, radon, and particulate matter, which are also a major cause of nausea.

Working together we can make healthier living environments, buildings and communities, I invite you to join us.

 

SKIN IRRITATION & AN UNHEALTHY BUILDING ENVIRONMENT

It is extremely important that the place or environment in which we live is clean and free from infectious materials to prevent skin irritations and other health issues.

Skin irritation can manifest in many ways, as bumps, itching and redness. Dust and bacteria in the built environment, as well as chemicals present in the water, can cause these on-sets. Skin irritations that are not taken care of initially, have potential to turn into serious health problems at a later time.

Skin irritations can be easily avoided by following certain healthy building thresholds. This can begin with the use and placement of sanitizers and disinfectants throughout the building, and made easily available to occupants.

Occupied surfaces should be free from any harmful elements, which can cause skin irritation, and strict water standards must be followed as well, as water can contain compounds which are harmful in high doses.

Chlorine and chlorinated compounds are added in water as disinfectants, but higher quantities of these compounds can result in skin irritation, therefore they must be administered in small and regulated amounts.

Fluoride may be added to water to prevent tooth decay but excessive exposure to fluoride can also lead to skin irritations, while chlorine and chloramine can lead to the formation of disinfectant byproducts, which are detrimental to one’s health,                 such as trihalomethanes and halo-acetic acids, as well as N-nitrosodimethylamine.

Working together we can make healthier living environments, buildings and communities, I invite you to join us.

 

THE BUILDING ENVIRONMENT & NOSE IRRITATION

Buildings are supposed to protect occupants from any hazardous elements, and assist in supporting healthy human activity. However, sometimes buildings do make people sick and cause them discomfort, or inhibit their ability to perform efficiently. This is why it is so important for healthy buildings to follow strict guidelines.

Nose irritation can occur when you breathe in a substance that you are allergic to, or when the harmful elements present in unfiltered air remain inside the building.

If occupants are regularly exposed to environmental irritants, such as secondhand smoke, VOC’s and molds, they can end up with nose irritations such as rhinitis, the inflammation of the nasal lining. Such health issues can be avoided however, through quality building material selection and proper building management and assessment.

Proper building management and assessment would mean selecting materials with low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) emissions, such as fast drying paints, and by restricting smoking to designated smoking areas only. A building is also responsible for maintaining proper water drainages around the perimeter of the building, and proper management of both water and air filtration systems.

Working together we can make healthier living environments, buildings and communities, I invite you to join us.

 

VISUAL OR PHYSICAL DISCOMFORT IN THE BUILDING ENVIRONMENT

Prolonged use of static furniture or equipment over time may cause discomfort and strain in the muscles and ligaments of the body, especially in occupational buildings in which you have to sit in one position for hours. You might be asking, what is static furniture? Well, it’s the traditional type of furniture such as desks and office chairs, in which one does not move when using them, unlike the more modern furniture such as a treadmill desk, where one can move while working.

The use of static furniture in a modern office, is not well suited to the modern world we live in with computer-based sedentary jobs. Sitting in the same position for hours at a time can lead to physical and visual discomfort and can affect an occupant’s productivity and long term health.

Visual discomfort occurs when your eyes feel tired, slightly blurry, dry and itchy. Whereas physical discomfort, this is when your back, neck, arms or other body parts feel stiff, uncomfortable or painful.

Poor posture while sitting can cause compression on the discs in your spine and this can lead to premature degeneration, which will often result in chronic pain.
In healthy buildings, to get rid of these conditions there are important factors to consider, such as the flexibility of seats with foot-rests and proper arm-rests.

Visual discomfort on the other hand, can be reduced through proper lighting, quality computer screens, the reduction of glare, and the proper angling and height of a screen in relation to a person’s body, height and distance from the desk.

Adjustable computer screens, adjustable height sit-stand desks, desk-top height adjustment stands, pairs of fixed-height desks of standing and sitting heights, are just a few ways in which a healthy building can combat the problems of visual and physical discomfort in the workplace, which in turn will lead to healthier workers with long term and higher productivity potential.

Working together we can make healthier living environments, buildings and communities, I invite you to join us.

 

VOMITING

Vomiting is a subject we often don’t want to talk about, but it’s important to discuss the importance of health and a healthy building environment. So, vomiting is the involuntary and forceful expulsion of the contents of one’s stomach through the mouth and sometimes the nose.

Vomiting is usually a short, one-off occurrence that is not dangerous in itself, however it can be dangerous if the gastric content enters the respiratory tract while a person is vomiting. Also, prolonged and excessive vomiting will deplete the body of water and alter the electrolyte status in the body, which can lead to very serious dehydration issues.

The feeling that one is about to vomit is called nausea, which often precedes vomiting, but does not always lead to it. It can be a one-time event linked to something that doesn’t settle right in the stomach, or at times it can be the sign of a much more serious health problem.

Food quality and clean food standards both in the preparation, storage and handling of food is without a doubt one of the most important areas a healthy building deals with, since any bacteria present in food may cause vomiting, food poisoning or serious illness.

In healthy buildings, strict standards must be followed for storage handling and prep, to avoid any such occurrences. The water being delivered to the building must be clean with limited amounts of chemicals and specific amounts of minerals. Water must also follow the standards for turbidity (cloudiness) and pass coliform bacterial tests. Turbidity of the water must be less than 1.0 NTU and coliform must be totally removed.

Working together we can make healthier living environments, buildings and communities, I invite you to join us.

 

VISUAL DISCOMFORT

Visual discomfort is an adverse-effect that occurs when viewing certain stimuli. These effects could include eye-strain, headaches, and blurred vision, among others.

In buildings, visual discomfort is mostly caused by improper lighting design, causing unnatural angles of light and strong glare or reflection in an occupant’s view or work surface.

Glare is the interference between the occupant’s visual perception and the object caused by a reflection or an uncomfortably bright light. Glare can totally or partially obscure the details of an object by reducing its contrast.

A healthy building will consider all of these factors when designing the lighting plan for a work or living space. Important factors will include: analyzing the angles and color of artificial light, and analyzing the natural light direction entering the space.

To minimize glare caused by incoming sunlight, all computer screens at desks must not be in the direct path of the incoming light or glare. Measures to mitigate glare must be taken if a worker is to be productive in the workspace. Interior window shading or blinds that can be easily controlled by the worker, or that can be set to automatic, will be the best way to prevent glare in the room, as well as the use of an external shading system. Lamps throughout the building must also be shielded, otherwise glare from artificial light can also disturb an occupant and affect their productivity.

Another way to prevent visual discomfort is to use high quality large screens, encourage workers to take regular breaks for their eyes, and even do regular eye exercises focusing on different distances in the room, and importantly, ensuring that the computer screen is not too close, and if so, ensuring that the individual uses the proper and most up-to-date eye prescription glasses if required, and that the individual enlarges the font or browser size accordingly.

Working together we can make healthier living environments, buildings and communities, I invite you to join us.

 

Written by Melanie @ http://www.caramelwriting.com for Healthy Building Services

For sweet copywriting, blogging or scriptwriting go to: http://www.caramelcamera.com

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