Sick Building Syndrome

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) define Sick Building Syndrome as a condition that is generally caused by poor indoor air quality that causes more than 20% of the occupants in the building occupants to have persistent conditions while inside. These conditions are relieved within hours of leaving the effected building. Some of the symptoms of Sick Building Syndrome are:

  • Eye, nose and throat irritation.
  • sensitisation of the mucous membranes.
  • Erythema (redness of the skin).
  • Mental Fatigue.
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and dizziness.
  • High frequency of airway infections or coughs.

What causes Sick Building Syndrome?

The causes of sick building syndrome are unknown, but it is believed that it is caused by poor indoor air quality. There are a lot of factors that affect indoor air quality, these include:

  • Poor air conditioning.
  • Building materials and furniture.
  • Building decorations and repairs.
  • High or low air moisture content.
  • Equipment within the building such as photocopiers.
  • Emissions from nearby sources.
  • Gases from the soils around and under the building.
  • Human activities such as scents personal hygiene products.
  • Mould spores.
  • Dust Mites.

How do we test for Sick Building Syndrome?

Synergy can provide a range of sick building syndrome tests to measure the indoor air quality in your building. We do this by measuring the carbon dioxide levels, the moisture levels, the volatile organic compounds, the formaldehyde levels, and the mould and dust mites levels.


Indoor Air Quality Tests

Carbon Dioxide.

Carbon dioxide is one of the best indicators of poor indoor air quality. With the improvement of building technology, and increasing legislation, building are becoming increasingly air tight. While this is good for building efficiency, unless the ventilation is correctly controlled and maintained, carbon dioxide can build up and cause problems for the occupants. The problem often occurs in buildings with high occupancy such as offices, call centres and theatres.

Volatile Organic Compounds.

There are thousands of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can be present in the indoor environment. These VOCs can arise from the building itself, from its maintenance or they can be introduced by the occupants of the building themselves.

The effect of VOCs on indoor air quality can be dramatic. Some of the compounds can be harmful, with symptoms ranging from nose throat and eye irritation to carcinogenic effects and reproductive or birth defects.

Synergy can sample the air for the most common and the most toxic (the 18 EPA hazardous air pollutants) of these compounds and measure them down to one molecule in a billion.

Our reports compare these results to published NIOSH exposure limits to let you know if any of them are present at levels that could be harmful. We also compare the results to the average levels found within buildings, so that you know whether the levels in your building are, low, normal or elevated. In addition our reports state the most likely source of the compounds so that the problem can be remedied.


Formaldehyde is a very common pollutant in indoor air. It can come from glues used to bind wood products such as mdf and is often caused by furniture and flooring. It also occurs in paints, in fungicides, in personal hygiene products and as a product of combustion.

Relatively low levels of formaldehyde can cause irritation to the eyes, nose, throat of susceptible people. As well as these irritant effects, formaldehyde has been classified as a human carcinogen.

Synergy can measure the concentration of formaldehyde in your building down to the parts per billion level and compare it to the recommended UK limit. We also compare the measured results to the average results so that you know whether your formaldehyde level is low medium or elevated.

Mould Spores.

There are many different types of mould spores with differing health effects. Synergy can provide a range of tests from a simple indicative tests to see if the levels are low, medium or elevated to test that quantify the number and identify the type of mould present.

Dust Mites.

Dust mite allergies can occur because of a reaction to tiny airborne particles within the building. Symptoms can include a runny or blocked nose, itchy, red or watering eyes and wheezing. Asthma symptoms can also be made worse by these allergens. Synergy can screen specific areas of your building to tell you whether the dust mite levels are low medium or elevated. We can also provide advice on reducing the levels of these dust mites.

Synergy’s technicians have unrivalled experience in indoor air quality measurements and Sick Building Syndrome testing. We have carried out assessments for west end theatres, call centres, office blocks and private homes.

Call us today for a quote

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