Sick buildings could be contagious
The ancient Chinese wisdom of feng shui found a harmony that made buildings pleasant and healthy to live and work in for thousands of years. While the principles of feng shui may be outdated and disproven, scientific research into modern buildings has shown that badly designed buildings can indeed make you feel ill.
‘Sick building syndrome’ is the name given for a variety of building related symptoms that range in impact from minor headaches to nausea and skin rashes – it’s a serious condition that costs business millions of pounds every year. The causes of ‘sick building syndrome’ are as varied as the symptoms but as elusive to pin down as the ‘qi’ in feng shui.
Aches and pains
The UK Health and Safety Executive identifies the main symptoms associated with sick building syndrome as; dry or itchy skin, dry or itchy eyes, headaches, lethargy, poor concentration and stuffy or running nose. Although the symptoms may be mild they are not trivial and can cause considerable distress.
The impact on personal health can have a knock on effect on company health. Employees suffering from the effects of sick building syndrome are more likely to be absent, take extended breaks and lose time complaining about their symptoms. Buildings let as flats or apartments may experience a higher rate of turnover or command lower rents.
Although ‘sick building syndrome’ has many causes one of the most striking unifying themes is the potential impact on the quality of the air inside the building. Stale and polluted air is unhealthy and it’s highly recommended that consultants tailor every aspect of a building to ensure healthier indoor air.
Specifying a modern air-conditioning and ventilation system is one way in which consultants can influence indoor air quality but it isn’t the only way. The choice of building materials – including insulation materials – will also play a major role.
Many construction materials are either manufactured by chemical processes or require paints, varnishes or adhesives and can potentially emit volatile organic chemicals (VOCs). VOCs are generally invisible and odourless so few building occupants will ever know that the air they are breathing is full of harmful chemicals.
Low VOC and low risk
Kaiflex is specifically engineered to exhibit very low rates of VOC release. All Kaiflex materials are also free from Formaldehyde - a prominent VOC that’s often assessed separately.
In addition to ensuring that the insulation itself is very low in VOC content, Kaimann has also paid particular attention to the potential impact of VOCs from adhesive. With more self-adhesive Kaiflex options than ever before, including Kaiflex TurboTube, Kaimann has helped to minimise the use of adhesive on site.
Of course sometimes there’s just no alternative to adhesive which is why Kaimann has developed an adhesive that has significantly lower rates of VOC emission – Kaiflex Adhesive 494. With such a low VOC content, Kaiflex Adhesive 494 meets the requirements of the LEED certification scheme and can be used in buildings that are aspiring to achieve LEED Gold and Platinum status.