Sick building syndrome ruled out as cause of illness

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The Independent Online
"Sick building syndrome" is a myth - but sick organisations are causing unexplained ill-health among their employees, psychiatrists say.

A study of 4,000 people working in 44 office buildings uncovered a clutch of symptoms associated with sick building syndrome, including wheeziness, sore throat, colds and flu, rashes and itching, tiredness, blocked or runny nose, itchy eyes, cough and headache.

Although these had some connection with the physical environment in which sufferers worked, there was a stronger link with job satisfaction. Those with little support at work had more symptoms, while those whose work was less demanding had fewer.

Dr Alexi Marmot, an architect who conducted the study with her husband, Michael Marmot, professor of epidemiology at University College Hospital, London, said: "I wouldn't use the term sick building syndrome at all. There are sick organisations and poor management and a lot of people who have difficult lives - and that is what we are seeing here."