Sick Building Syndrome
In a modern city like Hong Kong most of us spend over 70% time inside buildings everyday. Apart from our common lifestyle locked in buildings, various minor illnesses are generated from this way of life including headache, eye and skin irritation, coughing, sneezing, fatigue and nausea which are now described as "Sick Building Syndrome" (SBS).
A 1984 World Health Organization report on syndromes suggested most of the SBSs are related to poor indoor air quality, toxic molds, artificial fragrance, absence of or only limited access to sunlight, poorly designed furnishings and equipment, chemical or biological contamination.
Symptoms like eye, nose or throat irritation are common responses to the above-mentioned contamination in a short period while in a long term severe damages to our health such as asthma attacks, allergenic pneumonia can also be caused. In extreme cases, the immune system is affected and a higher chance of cancer may be induced.
Sick building causes are frequently pinned down to flaws in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Hong Kong, a city that almost no buildings are built without air conditioning from offices, hotels, residential apartments, shopping malls, hospitals to indoor playgrounds with its soaring population density provides a natural breeding ground to microbes and viruses.
Avian Influenza and SARS burst out in early 2000s have warned Hong Kong people of air conditioning in spreading viruses with life and blood. If we have ever learned a lesson from that, that lesson is to examine the air conditioning system immediately that most of our lives greatly depend on.