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Most discussions of indoor air pollution and strategies to reduce exposure to dangerous levels of pollutants concentrate on residential homes. But indoor air pollution is not limited to homes. Many offices and office buildings face significant indoor air pollution problems.

Many offices are not adequately ventilated and don't have access to adequate amounts of fresh outdoor air. Individuals working in offices may also have less control over the indoor environment.

Serious health conditions have been linked to building-related problems. Some of the more well-known of these include Legionnaires' disease, asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis and humidifier fever.

Some building occupants experience other symptoms that are not typical and difficult to link to a specific indoor air pollution source. This situation has been labeled sick building syndrome. Symptoms include dry or burning sensations in the eyes, nose and throat, nausea, dizziness, sneezing, fatigue, forgetfulness, and more. In addition to indoor air pollution, other building conditions like inadequate lighting, noise, vibration and stress may also contribute to these symptoms.

The World Health Organization estimates that up to 30 per cent of new or remodeled commercial buildings have unusually high rates of health complaints from occupants. Indoor air pollution may be responsible for many of these complaints.

Indoor air pollution problems in office buildings are caused by the presence of indoor air pollution sources, inadequate ventilation systems, and uses of the building for activities other than those for which it was designed.

Many of the same indoor air pollution source found in homes are also found in offices. Offices also may have copying machines, photography and print shops, stronger cleaning and disinfecting chemicals, and pesticides from commercial pest management activities.

Office ventilation systems may be poorly maintained or even unused to save money. In commercial areas, poorly placed intake vents outside could bring in motor vehicle exhaust, dumpster fumes, or other industrial emissions.

Buildings designed for 1 purpose may be converted into office space. If proper modifications were not undertaken during remodeling, restricted ventilation may lead to an increase in indoor air pollution.