Dealing With Building Related Illness
“Is Your Workplace Making You Sick?” is the title of a recent Philadelphia Insurance blog (at https://www.phly.com/rms/blog/commercialAQ.aspx). According to the World Health Organization, up to 30% of new and remodeled buildings worldwide may be subject to indoor air quality related complaints. Sick Building Syndrome is the term for health effects linked to time spent within a building for which no cause or illness can be identified. Building Related Illness is diagnosable and directly attributed to airborne building contaminants.
BRI can be temporary or long term. Causes include:
- Inadequate ventilation.
- Chemical contaminants from indoor sources including building materials, carpeting or cleaning agents.
- Chemical contaminants from outside sources coming through building openings.
- Biological contaminants such as bacteria, mold, pollen and viruses.
BRI symptoms include cough, chest tightness fever, chills, and muscle aches. Existing conditions such as allergies and asthma can be exacerbated by poor indoor air quality.
Claims arising from BRI include bodily injury, business interruption and mold remediation. Standard Property and Liability coverage forms have exclusions and limitations, not limited to pollution exclusions. Building owners and tenants with BRI exposures need stand alone Pollution insurance including first party clean up and remediation plus third party liability. Mold and other biological contaminants must be covered.
Controlling moisture is the best way to address the problem. Notify everyone who uses a building if there is an air quality problem. Do not block air vents or grilles. For more detailed information contact the Environmental Protection Agency, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Center for Disease Control or the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers.