The term Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) describes a situation in which residents of a building show symptoms of illnesses that seem to be associated with too much time spent in a building - but no specific causes can be identified.
According to a review by the Department of Technology & Architecture of the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, the WHO distinguishes between two types of SBS: the temporary SBS, which describes the complaints shortly after a building has been occupied, and the permanent SBS, which persists even after the building has been occupied.
According to international conventions (WHO 1982, MULHAAVE 1989), Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) occurs when more than 10 to 20% of employees in a building experience unspecific symptoms or symptoms that quickly subside after leaving the building.
The causes of sick building syndrome cannot be determined with absolute certainty. Possible causes could be pollutants occurring in indoor air. These include, for example, toxic vapours, so-called VOCs (volatile organic compounds) which are released by certain sources, for example from newly applied materials such as floor and carpet adhesives and pollutants from furniture (paints, varnishes and varnishes), as well as minerals from insulating materials, pest control materials and cleaning agents. Also pollutants, smells, pollen, fungus spores and germs can get into the room air through not or badly maintained air conditioners or with circulating air circuits if necessary. Tobacco smoke also plays an important role. Some of these substances are also classified as carcinogenic.
The symptom complexes are summarized by various authors and experts into a multitude of disease descriptions, for example as eco-syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS syndrome) or sick building syndrome, a phenomenon in which affected persons feel ill due to a "disease-causing" building. According to current estimates, around 400,000 people in Germany are affected by such hypersensitivities to chemicals, reports the German Allergy and Asthma Association (DAAB).
According to the "White Paper on Allergy", an eco-syndrome is defined as a range of illnesses associated with a variety of highly subjective complaints, "combined with the conviction that they are affected by environmental pollutants". In public discussion, the term is often used synonymously with multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS syndrome).
However, physicians use the term primarily to define complaints associated with chemical substances. However, these are present in extremely low concentrations, so that they are generally no longer considered harmful. With conventional detection methods, no clear cause for the disease can be determined. Ill-being, dullness and insomnia are rather easy complaints.
But also allergies, headaches, damage to the immune system, irritation of the eyes and respiratory tract as well as disturbances of the kidneys and liver function mean a considerable restriction in everyday life and reduce the quality of life. It can even cause depression.
Since some substances are classified as carcinogenic, exposure to indoor air pollutants can lead not only to SBS, but in severe cases even to cancer.