Sick Building Syndrome and the Corona Connection | Adamas University

Sick Building Syndrome and the Corona Connection

Covid-19

Sick Building Syndrome and the Corona Connection

Student contributors: Jinia Sarkar (B.Tech Biotechnology,2nd yr) & Prativa Sarkar (B.Tech Biotechnology,2nd yr)

With the Coronavirus or COVID-19 crisis gripping the world, the safest place is to be inside the comforts of our home. In many houses, social distancing has restricted domestic workers and people have to do household chores on their own. Managing a life where parents have to work from home, cook and clean utensils, manage their kids, elders, and pets and do exercise for their fitness leave little or no time to care for one of the very important issues, i.e. maintaining indoor hygiene.

Indoor environments play an important role in human health. A polluted indoor environment can cause health hazards like allergy, infections, and exposure to toxic chemicals. Certain health issues related to the time spent and conditions of the house where we live is broadly termed as “Sick Building Syndrome”(SBS). Symptoms of SBS are-

  • Irritation of nose, eyes, and skin
  • allergy
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • breathing difficulties

The exact reason for SBS mostly remains unknown. Nevertheless, different biological and nonbiological components may be important contributing factors.

Long periods of lockdown can lead to the accumulation of biotic and abiotic pollutants in the house if not properly tackled.

We are locked down to contain Covid-19, but health hazards, which may arise due to poor hygiene, must not be neglected, and therefore, ensuring that our home is clean is of paramount importance.

Biotic and Abiotic Components of Indoor Pollution

Biotic components of pollution include living organisms like fleas, ticks, mites, and lice that are often carried by pets, fungi, and other microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, and fungi. They can breed in stagnant water that has accumulated in humidifiers, desert coolers, drainages, or where water has collected like inside false ceiling or cracks.

The Abiotic components include smoke, paints, combustion products like carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds (VOC). Adhesives carpeting, manufactured wood products, pesticides, cleaning agents, etc are the main sources of VOC. Synthetic fragrances cleaning used in cleaning products or personal care products, also contribute to the contamination.

Tips to maintain proper hygiene and indoor air quality

  • Proper dusting and sweeping should be regularly done
  • Cross-ventilation across all the rooms is very important by frequently keeping the windows and doors open for sometimes to pass the fresh air.
  • Keep humidity low (~30%) like bacteria, mites, and mold love moisture. A dehumidifier may be used for the purpose.
  • When our bed is not in use we should cover it using a bedspread to avoid any dust particles from accumulating on the bedsheets and pillows.
  • Bedsheets and other covering items should be washed at regular intervals
  • Carpets and rugs should be cleaned with a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter.
  • Hard floorings instead of wall-to-wall carpeting may help to reduce the allergens on the floor surface.
  • A good quality air purifier can help in maintaining the quality of air inside the home and eliminates harmful gases
  • Dustbins are one of the dirtiest places, which are likely to attract various pests like cockroaches, and houseflies, which lead to different types of diseases and infections, so it should be cleaned regularly.
  • Minimize the use of room fresheners and perfumes as they may contain harmful volatile organic compounds. Fresh slices of lemon or orange peel may be used for a pleasant aroma
  • Avoiding overuse of incense as they may produce toxic compounds on burning
  • Keep plants outside as the moist soil can harbor different living organisms leading to allergy and infection
  • Home should always be a “smoking free zone” (burning tobacco produces many harmful gases)
  • Use eco-friendly cleaning products like lemon and vinegar
  • And yes, during lockdown period frequently wash your hands with soap and use sanitizer wherever necessary
  • Limited use of gadgets like microwaves, televisions, and computers that emit electromagnetic radiations
  • Maintain Sufficient lighting and allow sunlight to enter your house

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