Sick Building Syndrome

Sick building syndrome (SBS) occurs when the occupants of a building experience acute health effects that seem to be linked to time spent in a building. There is usually no specific illness or cause identified. The complaints may be localized in a particular room or zone, or may be widespread throughout the building. Frequently, problems result when a building is maintained in a manner that is inconsistent with its original design or prescribed operating procedures, or when occupant activities create a problem (1).

The symptoms of SBS include headaches; eye, nose, and throat irritation; a dry cough; dry or itchy skin; dizziness and nausea; difficulty in concentrating; fatigue; and sensitivity to odors. With SBS, no clinically defined disease or specific chemical or biological contaminant can be determined as the cause of the symptoms. Most of the complainants feel relief soon after leaving the building (1).

While specific causes of SBS remain unknown, the following have been cited as contributing factors to sick building syndrome(1).

The following are some very informative external links pertaining to Sick Building Syndrome:

EXTOXNET FAQS IndoorAir Pollution Home


1. Sick Building Syndrome, Environmental Health Center, National Safety Council, June 18, 1997. URL:

This page was prepared by B.T. Johnson, November 1997. UCD EXTOXNET FAQ Team.