Working in fully airconditioned offices or factories has become the norm for many working people over the last few decades.
We are more exposed to indoor pollutants as buildings are more tightly sealed, the use of synthetic building materials has increased greatly and there is a greater presence of chemically formulated personal care products, pesticides and household cleaners.
People now speak of Sick Building Syndrome. Symptoms of this syndrome include headaches, dizziness, sinus congestion, itchy or watery eyes, scratchy throats, nausea, lethargy and an inability to concentrate. It can also lead to respiratory infections and can aggravate asthma and allergies.
In many buildings the same air is circulated over and over and so are the pollutants present in the very same air. Fortunately proper filtration systems can eliminate most of these pollutants, thereby reducing the chances of people working being adversely affected.
Things to remember
- Be grateful that the heat and the cold will no longer affect your ability to work.
Be mindful of whether you suddenly start sniffing or wheezing shortly after arriving at work.
A mild anti-histamine – preferably one that does not make you sleepy – might sort out the problem.
Very few people have really serious reactions to airconditioning. People are more likely to react negatively to stuffiness, heat, or cold.
If you have serious health problems relating to the airconditioning, find out whether the air in your building is properly filtered.
(Occupational Care South Africa (OCSA), January 2006)
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