Sick buildingsGrowing numbers of Americans are discovering...


July 27, 1992

Sick buildings

Growing numbers of Americans are discovering that their fatigue, irritated throats or runny noses may be caused or aggravated by working in office buildings with inadequate ventilation systems.

The rise of "sick building syndrome" began in the 1970s, when there was a national push to make buildings more energy-efficient. But sealing them tightly caused air quality problems.

The Environmental Protection Agency defines sick building syndrome as a situation when occupants experience acute health problems and discomfort that appear to be linked to time spent in a building. Worker symptoms may include headaches, nasal irritation, dizziness and nausea.

Factors that can contribute to sick building syndrome include inadequate ventilation and airborne contamination from either chemical or biological sources, such as adhesives, carpeting, molds and fungi.

Eliminating or reducing sick building syndrome problems usually involves a combination of increasing a ventilation system's intake of fresh air, routinely cleaning ventilation ductwork and storing odor-producing materials in well-ventilated areas.

Hitting the jackpot

And what would you do if you hit the jackpot?

If you are like 97 percent of the people polled by Shearson Lehman Bros., you would not quit your job or retire. And only 5 percent of those polled said they would "buy anything I want." Twenty-seven percent said they would give more to charity.

Shearson found that the elements of today's American dream was: having a happy relationship with another person, having a family, having friends who respect you, being good at your work.

Medical benefits

Most big companies are willing to continue to be the primary provider of health-care benefits, but if costs keep escalating at .. the current rate of about 15 percent annually, about one-third of them would change their minds, a new survey finds.

The survey also found that big companies oppose incremental changes in health-care delivery such as the "pay or play" proposal, according to the report by the Washington Business Group on Health, a combination think tank and trade association.

Most big businesses believe that "pay or play" -- a system under which businesses must provide health insurance or pay into a national plan for the uninsured -- is the first step toward a single-payer, government-sponsored health-care system.

The big companies called for reforming the health-care delivery system to streamline medical care and cut costs.

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