A study conducted by Finnish researchers found that one in four workers experience health symptoms related to the indoor air at their workplaces. These symptoms include issues with their eyes, respiratory system, skin, as well as general problems like headaches, fatigue, and ‘brain fog.’
The study revealed that most affected workers experience mild functional impairments, but those with comorbid diseases, psychiatric illnesses, perceived sensitivities to other environmental factors, or financial difficulties are more likely to report severe impairments due to indoor air.
The researchers suggest that various factors beyond the quality of indoor air, such as psychological and social factors, play a role in these symptoms. Therefore, different types of treatments and support may be needed to address the varying severity of symptoms and functional impairments.
Indoor air-related symptoms can range from specific issues like skin irritation to general problems like fatigue and headaches. Risk factors for these symptoms include indoor air pollution (e.g., mold and poor ventilation) and individual factors like stress, lack of social support, and job demands.
In severe cases, some individuals continue to experience work-related disabilities despite efforts to improve indoor air quality or avoid problematic buildings.
The study also found a link between the severity of functional impairments and the development of functional somatic syndromes like irritable bowel syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome. Factors other than indoor air quality, such as knowledge or suspicion of exposure, may play a significant role in severe cases.
This research highlights the complex nature of indoor air-related symptoms and the need for a holistic approach to address them.