Particle Air Cleaning and Sick Building Syndrome Symptoms

Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) symptoms are self-reported acute symptoms, such as irritation of eyes, nose, and throat, headache, fatigue, cough, and tight chest, that occur in a building and improve when away from the building. These symptoms can have multiple causes, thus, they do not indicate a specific type of disease or a specific type of pollutant exposure. Only three studies were identified that investigated whether particle air cleaning reduces sick building syndrome symptoms. One study [18] in two floors of a large office building found no statistically significant reductions in SBS symptoms despite a very large 94% decrease in concentrations of small particles. A second study in offices [19] reported some statistically significant improvements in objective, i.e., measured, health outcomes (nasal cross section, nasal volume, peak expiratory flow) but no significant improvements in health symptoms. The final study [20], performed in classrooms, found no consistent and statistically significant improvements in health symptoms, but reported two cases of a statistically significant worsening of a health outcome. Overall, the limited available evidence suggests that particle filtration in buildings is not very effective in reducing acute sick building syndrome symptoms, in subjects without allergies and asthma.