TONELLO Graciela Lucia Del Carmen
congresos y reuniones científicas
Sick Building Syndrome. A comparison between two office buildings.
Institución organizadora:
Internacional Association for People-environment Studies (IAPS)
A person´s response to the environment may involve several psychological and physiological processes wich in turn will affect his/her performance and wellbeing. Sick Building Syndrome is the name given to a set of varied unspecific symptoms experienced predominantly by people working in air conditioned buildings, however the problem is not limited to this. Since the cause of SBS is probably multifactorial, there is need for an assessment method for office buildings that includes measures of factors, which may have an impact on the occupants’ health, comfort and productivity; a more holistic model of multiple exposure. A discomfort form (developed at the Department of Environmental Psychology, Lund University) that included general questions about type of office and background information about the participants in the study; an appraisal of the aesthetic qualities of the office environment;  detailed assessment of the lighting and other environmental factors; questions about various symptoms of distress and discomfort; assessment of the social climate; analysis of the main work tasks; and a personality test (Type A/B), was administered to office workers in Tucumán (northern Argentina, latitude 27º South). The study was carried out by means of surveys at  open plan offices belonging to old  (since 1910) and new ( renovated in1990) buildings of the National University of Tucumán. Questionnaires were administered to the personnel in November (summer in Argentina) during the morning in the middle of the working week. Measurements of lighting, temperature, humidity, and noise were also carried out at this occasion. The sample (N=67) was made up of 38 females and 29 males with a mean age of 42 years (SD=10.10). In general, the results showed that offices workers reported complaints related to environmental conditions (particularly noise and lighting).  Comparing both buildings, Building Work Related Symptoms  (BWRS) were more accentuated  in the old building. Environmental complaints such as disturbing noise, bad air, unpleasant smells, smell of mould, draught and cold, excessive heat, dry air, moist air, static electricity, tiring working positions, and organic solvents (ether, petrol, oil, etc.) significantly affected BWRS. A further paper will investigate the individuals’ stress tolerance and vulnerability with personality as mediator  of BWRS  effects. Keywords: Building Work Related Symptoms; Discomfort Form; Old and New Buildings.