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Meeting workplace healthy building information needs

B.P. Pathak, R.C. Cockerline, W. Maksylewich, H.J. Heinz, 2003
health | indoor air quality | office building | sick building syndrome
Bibliographic info: Healthy Buildings 2003 - Proceedings 7th International Conference (7th-11th December 2003) - National University of Singapore - Vol. 3, pp 132-137, 2 Fig., 1 Tab., 5 Ref.
Languages: English

This paper will review 6 years of experience in risk communication and meeting workplaceinformation needs about the health effects experienced by people working in sealed buildings.The purpose of this paper is to discuss examples of the kinds of information that theworkplace community is seeking and what answers can or cannot be provided.In the past two decades, there has been a growing concern about potential chronic healtheffects of poor indoor air quality and mould. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Healthand Safety receives approximately 200 such inquiries about indoor air quality and sickbuilding syndrome every year from employees, employers and government agencies. Theinquirers seek a definite answer and want to know whether or not their work poses any healthrisks. It is not possible to answer such a question in terms of yes or no since a scientificdebate exists regarding a potential link between a wide range of health effects reported bybuilding occupants and exposure to low levels of indoor air contaminants. Also, the responsecannot be based on the occupational exposure limits set by different national and internationalorganizations since these limits apply to industrial work environments and such levels ofexposure are unlikely to occur in office buildings. Results obtained in this study indicate thatthe highest percentage of inquiries are about health effects, acceptable exposure limits andstandard methodology for assessment and remediation of the problem. In conclusion, it willbe useful to direct efforts to address these information needs of affected building occupantsand building managers. The results of this analysis suggest topics that should be addressed bythe scientific community.

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