Air Hygiene Sampling Survey

Are you responsible for buildings, buildings services or office staff?

If the answer's yes, then you're duty bound to ensure the building is maintained to a reasonable standard to prevent occurrences such as Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). This is is a poorly understood phenomenon where people have a range of symptoms related to a certain building, most often a workplace, and there is no specific identifiable cause.

SBS can be linked to a building's poor air quality and it accounts for a high proportion of absenteeism.

Some of the symptoms include:

  • headaches and dizziness
  • nausea (feeling sick)
  • aches and pains
  • fatigue (extreme tiredness)
  • poor concentration
  • shortness of breath or chest tightness
  • eye and throat irritation
  • irritated, blocked or running nose
  • skin irritation (skin rashes, dry itchy skin).

 The symptoms can appear on their own or in combination and may vary from day to day. Different individuals in the same building may have different symptoms and they usually improve or disappear altogether after leaving the building.

SBS occurs mainly in open-plan offices however the symptoms can be developed in buildings occupied by a high number of people such as schools, libraries and museums. 

Employers are under due diligence to investigate the possible causes of SBS and the Health and Safety Executive recommends that the following steps are taken: 

  • Check heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system maintenance schedules. Ensure that they are being followed properly
  • Check the operation of the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system particularly the system that supplies fresh air  
  • Check the condition and cleanliness of air filters, humidifiers, de-humidifiers and cooling towers Carry out an employee survey to find out whether symptoms are occurring more often than expected 
  • Identify any obvious causes that can easily be fixed such as adjusting the office temperature
  • Check the general cleanliness of the building, including checking that the vacuum cleaners are working properly, that they are regularly emptied and their filters are clean 
  • Check that cleaning materials are being used properly and stored correctly.

Once the steps listed above have been completed and any necessary actions have been taken, employers should carry out another employee survey at a later date to find out if the symptoms of SBS persist. If the symptoms are still present a more detailed investigation will be required - and the good news is we're here to help.

At DCC South, one of our many specialist services is an air hygiene sampling survey where we take samples of soilage and growths from inside ductwork systems and send to a laboratory for analysis and identification.

Left undetected and untreated, some of the water cooled problems and conditions caused by dirty ductwork include Legionnaires' Disease and Weils Disease.

Once the samples have been analysed and indentified, we can carry out the necessary specialist cleaning services to ensure the building is given a clean bill of health.

To avoid SBS, a regular regime and good practice is essential. So don't put it off - call us on 0239 266 8600 and bring the professionals on board for a start to finish specialist cleaning solution.


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