Symptoms In Unhealthy Buildings

MOODS & THE BUILDING ENVIRONMENT

The way our living environment looks and feels impacts greatly on our moods. Popular theory has it that buildings are actually never truly finished, and they require constant maintenance and occupation in order to function well.

There are many factors that can impact an indoor environment such as: indoor-air quality, temperature, and cleanliness.

Factors, which can affect an occupant’s productivity, will often include such things as: natural light, fresh air, and the concentration of gases that are present in the air.

Now, let’s look at a few examples up-close, starting with, visible light. Light stimulates the production of serotonin, which can reduce depression; therefore light is a vital key to a successful indoor environment. As a second example, let’s think about fresh air. A high level of carbon dioxide will often make people feel lethargic; this is why it is important to design a living space that is well ventilated with fresh air. Now last but not least…. indoor temperature ranges. These are vital for occupants to feel comfortable, and to be productive and maintain good health. A temperature of around 20-25 Celsius is said to be ideal.

In order to maintain a healthy building, ASHRAE standards for natural and mechanical ventilation must be followed. Following these standards, you will find that occupants’ moods will improve, as well as their performance and productivity.

In a healthy building, natural ventilation will easily deliver fresh air to the interior of the building via widows and vents, while ensuring a safe, healthy and comfortable living and working space for occupants.

On the other hand, the importance of mechanical ventilation should not be under-estimated. This kind of ventilation is very important as it reduces unhealthy air pollutants, such as formaldehyde and radon, just to name a few. It also reduces excessive moisture and humidity, which can lead to mold growth, which can in turn, lead to an array of health issues.

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

 

THE METABOLISM & A HEALTHY BUILDING

You might be thinking: “how can a building affect one’s metabolism?”

Well, the building environment plays a much larger role in our everyday lives than we realize. Temperature for example, can have a vital impact on an occupant’s metabolism, ultimately affecting their overall mood, energy and productivity.

Another important factor to take into consideration is air temperature. Yes, air temperature can most certainly affect one’s metabolism under different thermal conditions. Here’s an interesting fact for you! The warmer the air, the higher the rate of metabolism!

The temperature in a home or work environment for example, should be according to the occupant’s needs. In a work environment, the building should provide a thermal gradient of at least 3 °C [5 °F] across open workspaces, and between rooms or floors.

In the workplace, open office spaces where occupants work, must allow for at least 50% free address to allow occupants to select a workspace with a desired temperature and have sufficient space to move around freely.

And most importantly, for a healthy workplace or home, occupants should have access to personal thermal comfort devices such as fans or heaters.

Putting all of these standards into practice will help to maintain a healthy building, one where occupants will be able to maintain health and a healthy metabolism.

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

 

AURAL DISTRACTIONS AND INTERRUPTIONS

Distractions and interruptions include anything that draws one’s attention away from the task at hand, and can be described as anything that disturbs or diverts a person from the current work in progress, to another task for a temporary period of time.

Attending to this new task increases the risk of error, with one or both of the ongoing tasks causing stress to the individual. In general, distraction or interruption will cause an individual cognitive fatigue, and cognitive fatigue can lead to mental slips, omissions, lapses in judgment, and mistakes. A healthy building will understand the acoustics of its environment in such a way as to prevent such things.

In healthy buildings an acoustic plan is developed that reduces the aural distractions & interruptions by separating loud and quiet zones, including separate areas for noisy equipment.

Sound levels in open spaces can be very difficult to manage if the workspace is not well designed or managed. Noise levels must fall within an acceptable range as per healthy building standards.

Open office spaces and lobbies that are regularly occupied and/or contain work-stations, must have a maximum noise criteria (NC) of 40 and no more, while enclosed offices must have maximum noise criteria (NC) of 35. Conference rooms and breakout rooms must have maximum noise criteria of 25-30, and teleconference rooms, of 20. Conference rooms have a maximum reverberation time of 0.6 seconds, while open workspaces remain at 0.5 seconds.

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

 

PRODUCTIVITY & THE BUILDING ENVIRONMENT

Productivity measures the production of a person or a system, and is one of the most important terms used in business. While a company focuses on numbers and the productivity of their employees, they have over the years also realized the importance of a healthy building in assisting them to reach their goals.

This often begins with supplying their workforce with a healthy indoor thermal environment. The thermal environment has been proven to assist individuals in maintaining healthy physiological and psychological health, which will obviously lead to greater productivity.

We can evaluate the effect of the thermal environment on productivity via certain physiological and psychological measurements, as well as task performance measures, and the analysis of fatigue.

The indoor thermal environment can be improved in two main ways: through either natural or mechanical ventilation, or both. With natural ventilation, there is an intentional passive flow of air constantly and consistently entering the workspace through designed openings such as doors, windows, vents and louvers, while with mechanical ventilation the air is filtered of any air pollutants such as formaldehyde and radon, and prevents excessive moisture and humidity levels, which can lead to mold growth.

In healthy buildings ASHRAE standards for natural and mechanical ventilation are always followed in order to keep the indoor environment as healthy as possible. A healthy indoor environment will improve mood, performance levels, and general health and wellbeing to its occupants.

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

 

PERFORMANCE & THE BUILDING ENVIRONMENT

Creative performance is vibrant and energetic, however it sometimes needs a little push. Physical movement, exercise or activities will often work wonders, however non-physical factors are also important. So what are non-physical factors? Well let’s see… things like sound, temperature, and even specific scents, these can all play a vital role in improving performance.

Studies have shown that temperatures that are too high or too low can have detrimental effects on performance, and this is where healthy building standards come in. A healthy building will always have control over the indoor thermal environment of their building, and set it to their occupants’ needs.

So how do they do this? Well, there are several ways to manage the indoor thermal environment, the first being the most simple, using a thermostat with a set up and HVAC. In addition to this, the most convenient and efficient way to improve indoor thermal comfort would be through the use of natural or mechanical ventilation. Natural ventilation consumes less energy for cooling, particularly with passive and hybrid cooling, and works through such designed openings as doors, windows, vents and louvers. With mechanical ventilation the air is filtered of any air pollutants such as formaldehyde and radon, and prevents excessive moisture and humidity levels, which can also lead to mold growth.

In healthy buildings ASHRAE standards for natural and mechanical ventilation are always followed in order to keep the indoor environment as healthy as possible. A healthy indoor environment will improve mood, performance levels, and general health and wellbeing to its occupants.

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

 

BACK DISCOMFORT & THE BUILDING ENVIRONMENT

Many people will say that back pain is the bane of their existence, affecting at least 80 per cent of us at some point in our lives. Many of us tend to spend our days sitting huddled over a computer, at work, at home, or both. This lack of movement coupled with poor posture at our desks can lead to stiffness and compression in the back, especially the lower back, causing pain or discomfort.

The aim of a healthy building is to put in place the best possible office ergonomics. With the proper chairs, desks and height of computer screens in place, an individual can hold the right posture, while feeling relaxed and well supported when sitting for long hours. So the appropriate height and shape of chairs, desks and screens, play an enormous role in reducing back discomfort.

Another of the main reasons why many people suffer from back pain is due to lack of regular exercise and stimulation of the muscles and circulatory system. This is why stretching regularly and even taking a walk at some point throughout your day, no matter how short, will help you to rid yourself of pain over time, and sometimes even immediately. The body is often just crying out for movement! Sitting in one spot for too long… well, the human body was not designed for that. Listen to your pain, it is telling you something! So stretching and walking daily will play an enormous role in reducing back discomfort.

A healthy building will encourage workers to get up and move around frequently, and will assist them with their desk set-up in order to adopt a good posture while working.

The right desk ergonomics will ensure the following: that your back is supported fully; that you can reach your keyboard from your chair without straining; and that your feet are flat on the floor. Healthy buildings will also make available to their workers, foot rests, treadmills, bicycles, portable desk pedals and stepping machines to assist with the sedentary hours at work.

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

 

CARDIOVASULAR PROBLEMS & A HEALTHY BUILDING SPACE

Acute organophosphate and carbamate pesticide poisoning can result in adverse cardiac problems including arrhythmias, hypertension, and even death.

When these hazardous substances are present in the air, they’re inhaled deeply into the lungs, deposited in the alveoli, and finally entering the body’s pulmonary circulation, and ultimately the systemic circulation of the body.

Fertilizer and pesticide pollution is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, an increased risk of myocardial infarction among the elderly, and can trigger acute cardiac decomposition in heart failure patients. These substances are absorbed into the body’s circulation and are associated with a transient increase in plasma viscosity and acute phase reactants, as well as altered autonomic control of the heart.

Pesticide and herbicide use is minimized by creating a ‘use plan’ and by only using pesticides with a hazard tier ranking of 3 (which is the least hazardous) as recommended by the San Francisco Department of the Environment.

In a healthy building, herbicides, pesticides and nitrates present in drinking water would be regulated to legal standards, and importantly, chemicals such as Atrazine, Simazine, Glyphosate and 2,4 Dichlorophenoxyacetic would only be added to water in very limited quantity in order to prevent cardiovascular problems.  

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

 

COCHROACH ALLERGENS & A HEALTHY BUILDING

Yes, it’s true! You can actually have allergies to cockroach allergens, especially if there is no pest control in a building. The saliva, feces and their shedding body parts, can trigger asthma and allergies in many people. These cockroach allergens are so tiny that they act like dust mites, and can aggravate different types of symptoms when they are in the air. These allergens may cause skin irritation as well as gastrointestinal problems. Some cockroach allergy symptoms include such things as: coughing, nasal congestion, skin rashes, wheezing, ear infections, sinus infections, and more.

In healthy buildings cockroach allergens are controlled in several ways:

By storing food in airtight containers like Tupperware or jars, with rubber seals on the lids; By keeping a tight lid on your trash can at all times, and moving it to an outside dumpster as soon as possible; by cleaning countertops, tables, and floors on a regular basis to prevent crumbs or food buildup; and last but not least, by using pest control products such as zappers, sprays, sticky paper and traps. The less chances for cockroaches to live in your environment, the better!

Inspecting homes or offices for cracks or holes in the walls or foundation will be an important first step, then filling or sealing these holes with sealants as soon as possible. Sealing up holes will prevent termites, roaches, and other such pests from entering your home or workspace.

Also, be sure to inspect dried food packages whenever possible, for worms, beetles, moths, and other such pests before you buy them and bring them into your home. Beetles and termites love wood, so eliminating any scrap wood inside or outside your home or office will also help.

Finally, there should be adequate pest control, and thorough inspection of all properties on a regular basis, usually annually, to prevent initial infestation or reoccurring infestations.

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

 

SPEECH INTELLIGIBILITY & THE BUILDING ENVIRONMENT

In communication, speech intelligibility is a measure of how comprehensible speech is, in that given environment. Intelligibility refers to the ‘understandability’ of speech, the match between the intention of the speaker and the response of the listener, and the ability to use speech to communicate effectively in everyday situations. It’s basically the percentage of speech that a listener can understand. For example, if you can only understand half of what a person is saying, then their speech intelligibility rating would be 50%.

Intelligibility is affected by a number of factors: the quality of the speech signal (being not too loud or too low); the type and level of background noise; reverberation (or reflections) which blur speech sounds, and the properties of the communication system.

The concept of speech intelligibility is relevant to several fields, including: phonetics, acoustic engineering, audiometry and human factors. Speech intelligibility is decreased by: (1) too much reverberation and (2) too much background noise. For a bit of a guide, the standard reverberation time for a conference room is 0.6 seconds and for open workspaces is 0.5 seconds.

So, in healthy buildings we can improve speech intelligibility by reducing reverberation time to a minimum level and by using quality materials to enhance the acoustics of the location.

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

 

DRY SKIN & THE BUILDING ENVIRONMENT

Sitting in an air-conditioned room for an extended period of time (say, a regular workday) can certainly dry out your skin. The closer you sit to the air-conditioning vent, the more your skin is likely to become very dry, due to cold air, and especially if the breeze is blowing directly on you.

If you already have skin conditions like eczema, rosacea or psoriasis, air-conditioning can further aggravate these skin conditions, sending the skin’s natural moisture balance completely out of whack.

Even if you don’t suffer from any of these conditions, air-conditioners can still dry out your skin, making it itch, and in some cases even flake. It’s not just the cold air that can be detrimental, the tiny synthetic fibers released from an air-conditioning filter also cause skin irritation.

In healthy buildings, this problem can be managed by maintaining proper air temperature in the workspace, and by ensuring the hydration of office workers by supplying filtered water near to their desks.

Water standards for human consumption must be strictly followed, meaning that the quantity of minerals added to the water, such as aluminum, iron, chloride, manganese, sodium, zinc and sulfate, are all in the exact quantities required as per water drinking standards.

Drinking water should be readily available in the building, and there should be at least one dispenser located within 30 meters of all parts of regularly occupied floor space – this is basically, a minimum one dispenser per floor. Dispensers must be cleaned as per the hygiene standards and water regulations, and this must be strictly adhered to.

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

 

DISCOMFORT IN THE BUILDING ENVIRONMENT

An occupant’s health will come first when assessing the overall comfort of a living environment. A range of indoor factors such as: thermal, visual, acoustic, and chemical can cause discomfort to an occupant. All these factors must therefore be taken into serious consideration. Even a momentary glare, or an aggravating noise, can cause discomfort.

A couple of examples which can improve the comfort of a work area might include: Window blinds – to avoid noise and reduce sunlight exposure; and the use of working desks with flexible height adjustments to prevent visual or physical strain. In a healthy workspace, Seat Adjustment Standards should also be enforced in order to reduce back and neck strain to office workers, and such standards can be achieved using specific furnishings.

A healthy building will provide flexible design components to allow occupants to shift their position and orientation throughout the workday. Such components could include: adjustable-height sit-and-stand desks; desktop height-adjustment stands; or pairs of fixed-height desks for both standing and sitting heights.

Overhead lighting or glare caused by incoming sunlight must be managed so as to not be directly aimed at a computer screen; and computer screens must be adjustable in terms of height and distance from the user.

Another important factor often overlooked in an office space is sound. Maintaining an average sound pressure level from the outside should be kept to a maximum of 50 dB.

Another way to add to the comfort of the busy office worker, is to provide easy-to-use adaptive control systems, such as: operable windows, remote controlled or timed thermostats or ceiling fans; and controlled dimmable lights. This way an environment can be personalized and controlled by the people actually working in it.

Last but not least, a controlled ventilation system is more important than many people might realize. This type of ventilation system regulates the ventilation rate of the outdoor air, in order to keep carbon dioxide levels in the space below 800 ppm –parts per million. HVAC System Testing & Balancing of ventilation systems in the workspace should be enforced at regular intervals in order to maintain indoor air quality standards.

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

 

UNHEALTHY BUILDINGS & DEBILITATING CONDITIONS

In many instances stress, anxiety and substance abuse, are common amongst employees, and are often traced back to increased levels of workload and overwhelm.

When an occupant’s energy levels are drained, stress levels go up drastically, often leaving an individual feeling frazzled and overwhelmed, causing anxiety, irritability, sleeplessness, muscle tension, depression and other serious problems. When individuals find themselves in such a predicament, action is critical in order to return their nervous system back into balance.

In healthy buildings, stress management programs should be offered and a qualified counselor should also be available, offering group or private counseling sessions, workshops, and referrals if needed. There should also be an employee assistance program with the facility to refer an individual to a qualified professional if they are suffering from anxiety, depression or any other mental or emotional issues.

Programs offered for psychological and behavioral distress and any other debilitating conditions, will not only make for a happier workforce but also, a more productive one and a low turn-around rate.

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

 

DELAYED LEARNING DIFFICULTIES IN CHILDREN

Growth and development in the first few years of life is an important health indicator. There are five important areas in child development to look at closely: the physical; social and emotional; the approach to learning; thinking; and communication and language.

In children under the age of five who experience severe growth impediments, studies have shown that this can result in many emotional, mental and physical illnesses, and even result in mortality.

While developmental delay is strongly associated with impaired psycho-social, and intellectual development and learning ability, most developmental disabilities occur before a child is born, however some can occur after birth due to infection, injury, or other factors.

Causes of developmental delay can be difficult to identify and a variety of elements can contribute to such delays, noise being one of the most important, along with proper nutrition and quality water consumption and hydration.

Here is why noise is a very important topic and one often overlooked. In preschool and school-aged children it has been proven that hearing impairment, sleep disturbances, blood pressure, stress, hormonal disturbances, cognitive tasks such as reading, long-term memory, general attention span, motivation and even psycho-social issues can all be byproducts of excessive noise in a child’s young ears over long periods of time in their early developmental years.

In healthy buildings we should reduce and manage noise pollution as best we can, to prevent later learning disabilities in children. A few more important factors to assist in the wellbeing and growth of children includes: taking care of all water being delivered to the building area, at least one water dispenser per buildings, and meeting proper drinking water standards which limit dissolved metals such as copper, lead, arsenic, mercury and nickel.

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

 

FOOD ALLERGIES & HEALTHY BUILDINGS

Food allergies are adverse reactions to foods that have an immunologic basis.

The most common food allergens include milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish.

Food allergy symptoms are most common in babies and children, but they can appear at any age. You can even develop an allergy to foods you have eaten for years with no previous issues.

The body’s immune system keeps you healthy by fighting off infections and other dangers to good health. A food allergy reaction occurs when your immune system overreacts to a food or a substance in the food, identifying it as a danger and thus triggering a protective response.

Symptoms of a food allergy can range from mild to severe, and because an initial reaction causes few problems doesn’t mean that all reactions will be similar. A food that triggers only mild symptoms on one occasion may in fact cause more severe symptoms at a later time.

Once a patient is given a food allergy diagnosis, the current standard of care dictates strict avoidance of the food allergen and ensuring availability of rescue medications in the case of a mild or severe reaction.

In healthy buildings allergen-free diet options must be provided in the building’s cafeteria, for the convenience and safety of people with such allergies. Foods sold or distributed on a daily basis within a building must be clearly labeled for the most common allergens: peanuts, fish, shellfish, egg, milk and wheat.

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

 

FOOD ALLERGIES AND DIETARY REACTIONS

A food allergy is a body’s response to the immune system. It generally occurs when the body takes in a harmful ingredient, usually a protein, and then creates antibodies to fight it. Food allergy symptoms can include such things as: a rash, itching, diarrhea, stomach pain, and anaphylaxis. These symptoms occur when the antibodies are combating the invading food. It’s basically the body trying to protect itself, as a soldier might protect his platoon. The most common food allergies are those to peanuts, walnuts, fish, eggs, milk, soy, corn, lactose and wheat.

Food allergies come in many forms. It can be the case of a headache or a rash appearing after ingesting something, or even just coming into contact with a certain ingredient. In a worse case scenario, there can be extremely severe reactions where an individual cannot breathe, seizure, a coma or even death.

Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest milk sugar, known as lactose. Symptoms of lactose intolerance are abdominal bloating, gas, flatulence, cramping, and diarrhea, and these symptoms can be a result of food containing dairy by-products, and not just straight dairy products themselves.

Gluten intolerance is another growing allergy in today’s modern society. Gluten is a protein found in all forms of wheat, semolina, spelt, oats, rye, and barley. When people with Celiac Disease consume gluten, the damaged villi (which line the small intestine) are unable to absorb the gluten protein as usual, therefore forcing the body to fight the substance instead of absorbing it.

In healthy buildings we should consider dietary restrictions and food allergies when planning meals and designing menus. The reasons people choose special diets are many –they can range from ideological beliefs to allergies, food restrictions and food sensitivities. Some people are strictly vegetarian (eating foods with no animal products, excepting eggs and dairy) while others are vegan (consuming no animal products or by-products, no eggs or dairy).

In a healthy building at least one option of allergy free food must be available, this may include peanut-free, lactose-free, egg-free or gluten-free options. And with the growing vegetarian and vegan diets today, at least one or two options that are vegetarian or vegan, are encouraged.

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

 

HEALTHY BUILDINGS & OBESITY

Weight that is higher than what is considered a healthy weight for a given height is described as overweight or obese. Body Mass Index, or BMI, is used as a screening tool for knowing if an individual is overweight or obese.

So how does one become overweight or obesity? This usually occurs because of an imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure. Energy intake relates to the amount of food and calories you ingest, and energy output relates to physical activity and calories burnt.

A sedentary lifestyle plays a major role in why people gain those extra pounds, as a sedentary lifestyle does not allow much time or activity where one can burn calories. Office workers are greatly at risk of becoming overweight or obese, due to their long work hours sitting in front of a computer screen.

In a healthy building, solutions to reduce this problem are provided in many ways. For example, the use of stairs rather than elevators should be encouraged; a gym or green area should be available free of use; healthy food and drink options should be made available throughout the building or nearby; architecturally, from the entrance of the building, staircases should be present before elevators; and last but not least, the use of treadmill desks, bicycle desks, stepper machines and portable desk pedals should be encouraged and easily made available.

Subsidized gadgets capable of measuring body mass, body weight, activity, steps, heart rate variability and sleep quality are additional tools which can be offered to occupants for personal use and towards the goal or leading a healthier life. Some of these would include, adjustable height standing desks and desks with height adjustment stands. Encouraging people with a sedentary work life, to lead a healthier one!

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

HYPOXIA & THE BUILDING ENVIRONMENT

Hypoxia is a condition in which there is a lower-than-normal concentration of oxygen in the arterial blood, as opposed to Anoxia, which is a complete lack of blood oxygen.

Hypoxia can occur with any interruption of normal respiration and in any part of the human body. However the brain, the heart, the liver and the lungs are the most sensitive areas. These organs will experience the most damage in the shortest amount of time without adequate oxygen.

Healthy buildings can reduce the risk of hypoxia by following healthy building standards in regards to equipment and machine use.

For starters, the use of all combustion-based appliances should be reduced in a healthy building, and equipment specifically used in the building for heating, cooling, or power generation (whether primary or back-up) like furnaces, internal combustion engines, water heaters and boilers, must meet California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District rules for pollution.

Parking areas are another area to manage correctly in a healthy building. There should be signage for idling vehicle engines that are on, in pick-up and drop-off zones, and in parking areas.

Particulate matter emissions from both on-road and non-road diesel fueled vehicles, as well as construction equipment, must be reduced by complying with certain standards.

All equipment, vehicles, loading and unloading, must be located away from air intake vents and other openings, and openings of adjacent buildings. Engines must also be retro-fitted with verified technology.

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

 

CANCER & THE BUILDING ENVIRONMENT

In cancer, there is abnormal cell growth with a potential to invade or spread to other structures of the body through blood or lymphatics. There are various causes and risk factors for cancer from which some are modifiable and dependent on lifestyle.

It is well known that physical inactivity is linked to obesity and cardiovascular disease, and that it can also increase the risk of many cancers. Researchers from the American Cancer Society have found that women who spend 6 hours or more of free time sitting per day have a 10% greater risk of getting cancer than women who spend less than 3 hours of free time sitting per day.

Recent research shows that long periods of sedentary behavior can increase your risk of a variety of cancers including bowel, endometrial, ovarian and prostate cancers, regardless of meeting physical activity guidelines. More time spent sitting also increases risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.

Healthy buildings are designed with these sedentary lifestyle risks in mind, and hopefully work toward helping to prevent such risks and factors.

A healthy building can greatly impact on the short term and long term health of an office worker by including such building facilities as gyms and healthy food cafeterias, and by making available such equipment as treadmill desks, bicycle desks, portable desk pedals or stepper machines. Adjustable-height desks and desks with desktop height adjustment stands must also be available in each office. Bringing all of these positive reinforcements into the workplace will help to promote and include physical activity within the workday.

Exercise equipment use should be encouraged as a daily routine both at home as well as in the office, and healthy buildings can achieve this through free workshops, workplace seminars, point systems, awards, and promotional materials, just to name a few.

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

 

ANNOYANCE IN THE BUILDING ENVIRONMENT

Annoyance is an unpleasant state of mind that is characterized by such effects as irritation and distraction from the task at hand, or from conscious thinking. Increased levels of annoyance can lead to much frustration, anger and tension, which is why a healthy building will play a major role in reducing annoyance levels.

In the grand scheme of things, anything can really be considered as annoying… perhaps it’s noise or even temperature –I’m freezing in here!—pollution –My allergies are playing up!

One of the main annoyances found in the workplace believe it or not, is noise, often leading workers to feel stressed and experience stress-related conditions.

Subjective perception of environmental sounds is dependent upon a variety of factors – the main ones being, the geographical location and the listener.

Exposure to intermediate and high noise levels has been proven to be the main source of annoyance affecting people in the workplace. People annoyed by noise may experience a variety of negative responses, such as: anger, disappointment, dissatisfaction, withdrawal, helplessness, depression, anxiety, distraction, agitation and exhaustion. Other modifying factors such as a noisy neighborhood or having access to a silent side of a dwelling, also play an important role in annoyance evaluation.

Elevated noises in a workplace or from an external environment, coupled with indoor and outdoor pollution, can increase an occupant’s annoyance by far.

Uncontrolled temperature, whether it be too cold or too hot, can also become a reason for an occupant’s irritation.

In a healthy building, noise can be reduced by using proper insulation, and acoustically laminated glass, to reduce the exterior traffic or aircraft noise from entering the building. And just to give you an idea, the average sound-pressure level from outside noise intrusion should not exceed 50 dB.

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

 

DEHYDRATION & THE BUILDING ENVIRONMENT

Dehydration happens when your body doesn’t have as much water as it needs. Without enough water, your body cannot function properly. You can have mild, moderate, or severe dehydration depending on how much fluid is missing from your body. In buildings, you may suffer mild dehydration because of less consumption of water due to lack of water resources.

Dehydration is a serious issue among many people, however there is surprisingly little awareness of the effects of dehydration, especially when considering its effects on the human body. A drop of just 2% of our body water can cause issues like headaches, short-term memory loss, loss of concentration, lethargy, dry skin, cognitive impairment and digestive problems such as constipation. If mild dehydration is not treated, the body begins to shut down. Shock, coma and death can occur in extreme dehydration cases if the replenishment of fluids does not take place adequately and in a timely manner.

In a healthy building, as per the standards, water access should be at a distance of 100 feet, or at least at one water dispenser per floor. Occupants should be encouraged to drink water for the consumption of essential minerals, which our body requires to function well.

Drinking water dispensers must also be cleaned as per hygiene standards, which include daily cleaning of mouthpieces, protective guards and collective basins, in order to prevent lime and calcium buildup and the growth of mold.

The removal of debris and sediment from outlet screens and aerators should also be attended to, quarterly, and the water being delivered to the buildings should be filtered and should contain limited amounts of minerals, enough to be beneficial to an occupant’s health.

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

 

MUSCLE CRAMPS & THE BUILDING ENVIRONMENT

Muscle cramps are the involuntary contraction or tightening of the muscle. When a muscle cramps, it will not relax, and can generally not be controlled by the individual, who just has to wait it out. Muscle cramps tend to occur more in men than women, often affecting the calf or thigh muscles, and often occurring as a result of low magnesium in the body.

A cramp is a strong, painful contraction or tightening of a muscle that comes on suddenly and lasts from a few seconds to several minutes. Cramps can affect anyone, whether you are a regular exercise junkie or a regular couch potato.

Lack of water intake can cause muscle cramps, because water contains essential minerals, which help the electrolyte balance in the body. Any imbalance in electrolytes can cause abnormal functioning of muscles and ultimately cramping.

In healthy buildings, and as per health standards, water access should be at a distance of 100 feet to each worker, or at least one dispenser per floor, and occupants should be encouraged to drink water for the consumption of essential minerals, which the body requires to function at its best.

A healthy building will also manage drinking water dispensers correctly, ensuring they’re cleaned daily, as per health standards, which includes daily cleaning of mouthpieces, protective guards and collective basins to prevent lime and calcium buildup and the growth of mold.

The removal of debris and sediment from outlet screens and aerators should also be attended to, quarterly, and the water being delivered to the building should be filtered and should contain limited amounts of minerals, enough to be beneficial to an occupant’s health.

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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