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Environmental, occupational and personal factors related to the prevalence of sick building syndrome in the general population.

Norback D, Edling C, 1991
occupant behaviour | sick building syndrome
Bibliographic info: British Journal of Industrial Medicine, Vol 48, 1991, pp 451-462, 1 fig, 12 tabs, 52 refs.
Languages: English

The possible links between the prevalence of sick building syndrome (SBS) and personal. occupational and environmental factors were studied in a random sample of the population between the ages of 20 and 65 in three districts in middle Sweden. Those persons whose mother smoked or who were brought up in urban areas more commonly reported SBS symptoms. Other variables which were related to SBS symptoms were current urban residency, fresh paint, and preschool children in the home. However other residential factors such as age of building, type of building, domestic living space, mechanical ventilation, or signs of moisture or mould were not related to SBS symptoms. Other factors related to SBS symptoms were a history of atopy, allergy to nickel, vulnerability to infection, hyperreactivity, experience of static electricity, work with VDUs, levels of satisfaction and senses of cooperation at work. Individual factors such as age, gender, marital status, education level, work stress, obesity, current or previous smoking, regular physical exercise, or exposure to chemicals at work did not correlate with symptoms. Women reported a higher proportion of symptoms than men but these differences were not significant when adjusting for differences in allergy to nickel, hyperreactivity, and vulnerability to infection. Maternal smoking was related to a twofold increase of both atopy and allergy to nickel in the adult offspring. Eye symptoms were most common in administrative, managerial, and service occupations. Symptoms connected to respiration were most common in transport and communication workers. Symptoms connected to the skin were most common in professional and technical and related occupations. General symptoms were most common in service, health, hospital and social workers. The lowest prevalence of symptoms was found in agricultural, forestry, and sales work. Women and subjects allergic to nickel worked more often in places where they were not exposed to chemicals, but there was no evidence of selection mechanisms causing sensitive persons to move from exposed to unexposed occupations. The study was concluded that symptoms included in SBS are common in the general population and are of multifactorial origin. These factors were individual, residential and occupational, and included certain environmental exposures such as smoking, the urban environment, working with VDUs and volatile organic hydrocarbons from newly painted dwellings.


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