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The stability of office workers’ unspecific building-related symptom reports
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Dermatology and Venerology. Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Occupational and Enviromental Medicine. (KLUCK-projektet)
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Public Health Sciences.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Occupational and Enviromental Medicine.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Dermatology and Venerology.
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The stability of reported unspecific building-related symptoms, or sick building syndrome (SBS) was investigated in this study. In Umeå and Vasa, two cities in northern Sweden and Finland, 172 subjects were asked about their symptoms in two questionnaires. The first contained questions about symptoms during the past three months, right now (when answering the questionnaire), and if any symptom ameliorated when they were not at their workplaces. Later on, all of the workers took measurements of their personal chemical exposure at work and at home during one week, and at the end of the week they were asked about symptoms during the week.

The stability of a case/control concept was investigated as well as individual symptoms. It was found that 67 % of cases and controls did not change class if classifications were based on answers on symptoms during both the past three months and the week of measurements. Corresponding proportions for general, mucosal and skin symptoms were 71 %, 71 % and 78 % respectively. However, measurement activities appeared to increase symptom reports; on average 43 % of controls reported symptoms compatible with the case definition and 53 % of individual symptoms during the week of chemical measurements were not experienced when asked about symptoms during the past three months. Classification of participants with atopic disease and those 41 years old, or younger, were least stable. Nausea/dizziness does not seem to be strongly associated with indoor air quality while other general symptoms, dry eyes and facial skin symptoms are often attributed to staying within the workplace building

Keyword [en]
Sick building syndrome, symptom reports, stability, office
National Category
Environmental Health and Occupational Health
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-30639OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-30639DiVA: diva2:285143
Projects
KLUCK-projektet
Available from: 2010-01-11 Created: 2010-01-11 Last updated: 2010-01-19Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Methodological aspects of unspecific building related symptoms research
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Methodological aspects of unspecific building related symptoms research
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis deals with methological issues in the study of chemical exposure and sick building syndrome (SBS). SBS is a combination of general, mucosal and skin symptoms that some people experience when staying in specific buildings. The aim was to find chemical patterns associated with SBS, but also to address methological problems in such study.

The plan was to conduct a case-control study comparing the two groups’ chemical exposure, where cases were defined as those having at least one general, one mucosal and one skin symptom each week the last three months. For the planning it was necessary to know if cases and controls could be selected from the same building. If everyone in a building have the same chemical exposure it is no use to compare exposure between two persons at the same workplace. In the first paper exposure to more than 100 compounds is compared between 79 participants working in eight buildings. It was found that for the majority of compounds the variation in exposure was larger within buildings than between buildings, which means that cases and controls could be allowed to work in the same building.

The second paper is a comparison of three adsorbents usability in finding differences in chemical exposure between SBS cases and controls. This was done by using chemometrical methods but comparisons of sampled amounts, blank values and reproducibility were also done. Tenax TA was found to be the best adsorbent, hence used in the case-control study.

In recent years ozone and ozone reaction products with unsaturated volatile organic compounds (VOCs) has been in focus. Nitrogen dioxide is another gas affecting oxidation of reactive VOCs. Formaldehyde is an irritant formed when unsaturated VOCs are oxidised, and in some studies a relation with SBS has been found. In paper three the relation between personal exposure to formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, terpenes and SBS has been investigated among more than 200 office workers in a case control study in Umeå and Vasa. Cases (based on symptoms during the week of measurements) had lower ozone exposure than controls. No further associations were found at present exposure levels. A planed analysis of relations to VOCs could not be done due to analytical problems, and problems due to difficulties with consistent identification of compounds in a very large data set. These problems are further discussed in the thesis.

In the case-control, study participants answered questionnaires about symptoms during "the past three months", "right now" (when answering the questionnaire), and during the week of exposure measurements. In the fourth paper the stability of symptoms were compared by answers at different occasions. It was found that the case/control concept was as stable as individual symptoms. More participants with atopic disease and those 41 years old or younger changed class compared with those without atopic disease and older participants. Measurement activities appeared to make participants report more symptoms. Fatigue, dry eyes and dry skin are suggested to be symptoms with strongest, and illness/dizziness to be weakest association with IAQ.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå university, 2010. 72 p.
Series
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1315
Keyword
Sick building syndrome, SBS, exposure measurement, GC-MS, questionnaire, symptom, variability, PCA, PLS-DA
National Category
Environmental Health and Occupational Health
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-30640 (URN)978-91-7264-903-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2010-03-04, Hörsal B, 9tr, Tandläkarhögskolan, NUS, Umeå, 09:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
KLUCK-projektet
Available from: 2010-01-19 Created: 2010-01-11 Last updated: 2010-01-20Bibliographically approved

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