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“Sick House Syndrome” Spreading to Other Indoor Spaces

“Sick House Syndrome” Spreading to Other Indoor Spaces

Posted October. 04, 2005 03:07,   


Han, a 35-year-old working mother, has a four-year old child. After her child began suffering from serious headaches, Han visited a nursery school the kid attends to find out the reason. Upon entering the school, she couldn’t stand the offensive smell emanating from inside. Doctor diagnosed that kid’s headache comes from air contamination. “Even though there is no way I can find out the causes myself, I strongly believe that poor facilities of child care center may have answers,” she said.

Han’s assumption was proved correct.

According to research papers, which are to be published by the Korean Society for Indoor Environment later, and which were obtained by Dong-A Ilbo yesterday, indoor air is contaminated to an unprecedented degree in facilities like child-care centers, nursery schools, kindergartens, centers for post-natal care, schools, offices, and cars.

This means that “Sick House Syndrome,” which has been known as a phenomenon occurring only in newly built apartments, is now rapidly spreading in all kinds of indoor spaces.

This was revealed by a team research of professors and research institutions, which covered almost all types of indoor air contamination in accordance with participants’ special fields. As many as 61 research papers have been submitted and will be presented in an academic conference to be held in COEX in Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul on October 5.

A research team headed by Sohn Bu-sun, a Soonchunhyang University professor, revealed that formaldehyde has been found at 0.11ppm in elementary schools that were built within the last year, 11 times more than standard level (0.01ppm). Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) was also detected two times more than standard level in newly built nursery schools located in Seoul.

In addition, new cars purchased within the last two weeks showed VOC levels a whopping 115 times more than standard level. “Sick Car Syndrome” is fast emerging as another problem.

A research team headed by Sohn Jong-ryeol, a research professor of environment and health at the College of Health in Korea University, revealed that airborne viruses were found at 1242 units per m³ on average, 1.6 times more than standard level in three centers for post-natal care.

This virus was also detected in three saunas at a level 3.8 times more than the standard.

Airborne viruses cause skin problems, vomiting, and headaches, which are particularly infectious to children, the elderly, and patients whose immune systems are not strong.

A research team headed by Kim Yoon-sin, a Hanyang University medical college professor, examined the air conditions of 39 workplaces located in Seoul and its adjacent area at the end of June, and revealed that office workers greatly suffer from lassitude, fatigue and inflammation and dryness of eyeballs due to dust in air that has increased to higher than standard levels.

Keuk-In Bae bae2150@donga.com