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Complaints and symptoms among hospital staff in relation to indoor air and the condition and need for repairs in hospital buildings

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Author(s): Ulla-Maija Hellgren | Eero Palomäki | Marjaana Lahtinen | Henri Riuttala | Kari Reijula

Journal: SJWEH Supplements
ISSN 1795-9926

Issue: 4;
Start page: 58;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Keywords: mold damage | repair | moisture damage | renovation | indoor-air questionnaire | hospital | hospital building | questionnaire | complaint | mold | symptom | building | hospital staff | indoor air

ABSTRACT
OBJECTIVES: The purpose of the study was to determine whether the Indoor Air Questionnaire of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health works in a hospital environment and whether the questionnaire can be used to determine moisture and mold damage. METHODS: The Indoor Air Questionnaire of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, as modified for hospital enviroments, was sent to the employees of 10 selected hospitals. At the same time, but separately, a team of experts on building and ventilation technology assessed the condition of the hospital facilities. RESULTS: On the whole, hospital staff reported more complaints and symptoms related to indoor air than office workers in a recent control study. More complaints and symptoms related to indoor air were reported in facilities requiring further studies than in facilities that did not require any repairs. The most complaints and symptoms related to indoor air were reported in facilities requiring immediate repairs. In these facilities, the most common complaints were stuffy and dry air, unpleasant odors, the smell of mold or an earthen cellar, dustiness, dirt, and temperature problems. In facilities requiring immediate repairs, the predominant symptoms were headache, irritation of the eyes and nose, irritation of the hands, cough or coughing up phlegm, irritation of facial skin, irritation of head and ears, and irritation of the throat. CONCLUSIONS: Based on the present study, the Indoor Air Questionnaire would seem to function well also in a hospital environment. Moisture and mold damage requiring immediate repairs can be identified with the help of the questionnaire.
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