Building-Related Symptoms among Office Employees Associated with Indoor Carbon Dioxide and Total Volatile Organic Compounds

Chung-Yen Lu, Jia-Min Lin, Ying-Yi Chen, Yi-Chun Chen
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2015, 12 (6): 5833-45
This study investigated whether sick building syndrome (SBS) complaints among office workers were associated with the indoor air quality. With informed consent, 417 employees in 87 office rooms of eight high-rise buildings completed a self-reported questionnaire for symptoms experienced at work during the past month. Carbon dioxide (CO2), temperature, humidity and total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs) in each office were simultaneously measured for eight office hours using portable monitors. Time-averaged workday difference between the indoor and the outdoor CO2 concentrations (dCO2) was calculated as a surrogate measure of ventilation efficiency for each office unit. The prevalence rates of SBS were 22.5% for eye syndrome, 15.3% for upper respiratory and 25.4% for non-specific syndromes. Tiredness (20.9%), difficulty in concentrating (14.6%), eye dryness (18.7%) were also common complaints. The generalized estimating equations multivariate logistic regression analyses showed that adjusted odds ratios (aORs) and 95% confidence interval (CI) per 100 ppm increase in dCO2 were significantly associated with dry throat (1.10, 95% CI=(1.00-1.22)), tiredness (1.16, 95% CI=(1.04-1.29)) and dizziness (1.22, 95% CI=(1.08-1.37)). The ORs for per 100 ppb increases in TVOCs were also associated with upper respiratory symptoms (1.06, 95% CI=(1.04-1.07)), dry throat (1.06, 95% CI=(1.03-1.09)) and irritability (1.02, 95% CI=(1.01-1.04)). In conclusion, the association between some SBS symptoms and the exposure to CO2 and total VOCs are moderate but may be independently significant.

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