Last edited 10 Nov 2016

Building related illness

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People in industrialised countries spend over 90% of their lives in indoor environments; therefore symptoms and illness related to these environments are common. The term building-related illness (BRI) is used to refer to disorders associated with, and directly caused by, being in and around a building.

BRIs differ from sick building syndrome (SBS) because the causes can be determined, whereas SBS is used as a term to refer to symptoms of acute health and/or comfort effects for which no specific cause can be found but that can be attributed to time spent in a particular building.

BRIs and stresses are caused by a number of factors such as:

  • Biological factors.
  • Physical factors.
  • Chemical factors.
  • Organisational and management factors.
  • Psychological and psychosomatic factors.

The most common indicators of BRIs include:

  • Occupants of a building experience symptoms such as coughing, chest tightness, fever, chills, muscle aches.
  • The symptoms can be clinically defined and have clearly identifiable causes.
  • After leaving the building, complainants may require prolonged recovery times.

Examples of BRIs include the following:

  • Legionella infection.
  • Occupational asthma.
  • Hypersensitivity pneumonitis.
  • Inhalational fever.
  • Humidifier fever.

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