Some Offices Cause Employee Illnesses (La Prensa, 1/21/13)

Mexico City - At least 200,000 offices in Mexico are "sick" and up to 30% of the occupants suffer irritation of their eyes, nose and throat, dryness in mucous membranes and skin, hoarseness, respiratory distress, itching, nonspecific hypersensitivities, nausea, dizziness, vertigo, headaches, mental fatigue or high incidences of respiratory infections and colds, said Liliana Silva, Director of Mercadotecnia de Grupo Xtra.

A directive mentions that nothing is evident at these workplaces "at a glance", since they are architecturally fine, supposedly functional and many of them even boast awards for design "but are sick and contagious to those who work in them". In general, glass buildings generate reflections on the eyes or computer screens and closed air conditioning systems standardize the entire building’s temperatures. "Some are roasted in heat while others freeze", exemplifies Silva.

"On desks set at windows, the air conditioning can fall directly on the back on some and others have constant artificial light", covered the directive which manifested that increasingly more intolerance is shown for air-conditioning that is full of pollutants and allergens.

"In metropolitan areas of Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey where there are the greatest number of enterprises, concentrations of more employees are made ill by poor ventilation, inadequate temperature control, ionic and electromagnetic loads, suspended particles, gases and vapors of chemical origin and bioaerosols", noted Silva.

A representative of the real estate group Xtra mentioned that since 1982 a series of pathological symptoms attributed to buildings were detected, but now "the effects are intensifying among office workers. Sick buildings affect 5% of the population and offices harm up to 30% of workers".

"Those who remain in a sick office eight hours a day, five days a week usually develop allergies that mysteriously disappear when they leave the office, although in general the symptoms are often confused with flu or colds, headaches, sinusitis, congestion, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, irritation of the eyes, nose and throat".

To determine if they are infected by a sick office, note if the illnesses simultaneously affect multiple employees or if they are unreasonably persistent. Silva says that some diseased offices contain chemicals such as formaldehyde, dust or fibers of organic compounds, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, ozone or biological hazards such as bacteria, fungi, spores, toxins or mites.

"In many cases sick offices are plagued by physical characteristics such as poor lighting, ionization, noise, vibrations, temperatures, humidity or ventilation, although office disease is traditionally associated with psychosocial factors such as stress, anxiety, passive aggressiveness and psychic contagion," concluded the expert. http://www.oem.com.mx/elsoldetijuana/notas/n2851135.htm

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