Health: Air conditioning hazards highlighted

Air conditioning can cause asthma attacks, chest tightness and a runny nose in office workers, according to new research.

The study of 770 office staff found people working in air-conditioned offices are almost two-and-a-half times more likely to suffer from respiratory infections than those in naturally ventilated buildings.

Dr Dan Teculescu told the European Respiratory Society's annual congress in Berlin that findings from his research support reports of sick building syndrome in the UK, Italy and Scandinavia.

Upper respiratory tract infections caused by air conditioning included the common cold, sore throat and tonsilitis.

These conditions accounted for 17 per cent of days off work among staff working in air-conditioned offices, compared with 9 per cent in other buildings.

In the study, the French doctor examined the levels of air temperature, humidity, airborne bacteria and fungi in both air-conditioned and naturally- ventilated buildings. He found that seven out of eight symptoms were associated with exposure to air conditioning at work.

Dr Teculescu said: "Upper respiratory tract infections such as the common cold are one of the main reasons for absence from work. Air conditioning circulates the air and can carry airborne bacteria and fungi."

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