ABCs of a sick building

Camosun carpentry instructor speaks from personal experience

Sick building syndrome has been officially documented by Health Canada since the early 1990s.

Poor ventilation and/or a build up of one or more contaminants known as volatile organic compounds or VOCs  cause allergic reactions and illness amongst those who spend time in the buildings.

Camosun College carpentry instructor Geoff Murray teaches his students about the syndrome and how to prevent it. Moulds growing in walls or in carpets are the result of poor ventilation or improper sealing of homes. Older homes that have been renovated are particularly vulnerable to becoming a sick building with off-gassing from inorganic compounds in carpeting and paints. Even adhesives in wood can decrease air quality. (If you must have carpet, consider wool carpeting with jute backing, he suggests.)

Murray shares a personal sick building experience with his students from the early 1990s when he and his wife moved into a 1930s James Bay house that had recently been renovated. Within weeks his wife became ill. Sick building symptoms can include eye, nose, throat and skin irritation as well as nonspecific hypersensitivity to odours and tastes. It wasn’t until his wife got better while on vacation that the couple figured out it was the house. “It was sealed up super tight but the crawl space hadn’t been sealed and dampness was coming up causing mold,” he recalled. They quickly moved out. “And when we bought our first home the first thing I did was seal the basement.” New building regulations require energy saving new homes to have heat return systems installed. Murray suggests homeowner discuss with their architects and general contractors the many new kinds of organic products that can be used during renovations in order to maintain good air quality in a home.

vmoreau@oakbaynews.com

Did you know:

Fifty per cent of all work-related deaths in B.C. are from occupational diseases, most from exposure to asbestos.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Unemployment surpasses historic high in Greater Victoria, tourism hit hard

Hospitality and tourism sectors hurting as pandemic continues

Victoria tattoo shops respond to sex assault allegations against male artists

Carne Tattoo and Painted Lotus Studios respond to allegations

‘I love my animals very dearly,’ says man at centre of Saanich park allegations

Man accused of assault after being approached for allegedly mistreating his dog

Mayor not in favour of low barrier housing at Oak Bay Lodge

Process is already in place to determine future of Oak Bay Lodge

Victoria seeks court order to enforce sheltering rules in Beacon Hill Park

People being asked to move out of environmentally sensitive areas of park

VIDEO: Langford cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 7

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Would you get a vaccine for COVID-19 when it is available?

With the number of positive COVID-19 tests skyrocketing across much of the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Vancouver Island business ad unintentionally features OK gesture linked to white supremacy

Innocuous ‘OK’ gesture in cleaning franchise advertisement gets flak on social media for ‘supposedly’ promoting white supremacy

Comox Valley RCMP looking for missing woman

Ami Guthrie was last seen in Courtenay in early July

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Most Read