Sick Building Syndrome Checklist


Is there something in your air?


  • Do your employees often complain of headaches, nausea, skin irritation, burning eyes, sore throats, fatigue, sneezing, fever or chills?
  • Is employee absenteeism high?
  • Are complaints relieved when people leave the building?
  • Is employee productivity low or decreasing?
  • Is dirt or dust visible around your air diffuser, or in the atmosphere?
  • Do you notice unpleasant lingering odours, such as fumes from cleaning solvents, draperies, carpets or copying machine liquids?
  • Is there mould/slime or obvious microbial growth on any building material, furniture, carpet or within the HVAC system?

Potential Causes

There are many different factors that can affect indoor air quality:

  • Thermal comfort level
  • Ventilation – the amount of outside air entering the building
  • Concentration of respirable suspended particles
  • Concentration of carbon monoxide
  • Combustion gases
  • Noise, vibration and lighting
  • Electromagnetic radiation
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOC)
  • Formaldehyde: the most common VOC
  • Biological contaminants


The first step is to contact the facility managers and discuss the problems. Then together you will need to test the indoor air to establish whether it is the reason for ill heath. Once the indoor air quality has been established, solutions can be discussed and implemented.

For a more detailed discussion of Sick Building Syndrome and its causes read our in-depth article.