The advent of modern offices geared towards high utilization of space and profits has done away with the more natural and healthy working environment. Sick Building Syndrome was a phrase coined in the late 1970s following a boom in the use of computers and high-tech communications.


Individuals working in these offices may find themselves suffering from the following symptoms:


Visual and eye problems

Dry throat and nose (including nose bleeds)



Skin irritations

Generalized aches and pains

Neurological symptoms such as numbness and tingling

Lethargy and fatigue

Sleep problems

This syndrome is not well recognized although more companies, especially in the USA, are accepting that more modern working conditions do not necessarily mean healthier working conditions. The problems arise from a variety of different areas within the building and the following only scratches the surface of the problem.


Most offices contain a ‘soup’ of substances in the atmosphere known as volatile organic compounds (VOC). These arise from the cleaning fluids from the carpets, the dry cleaning substances from our clothes and the chemicals released from the computers and VDUs, such as ozone, negatively charged radicals and gold (yes, gold; it is used to coat certain components within computers) all mixed with our own aftershaves and perfumes. These compounds are absorbed and act as free radicals within the system as well as direct irritants and allergens.


Ultraviolet light does not penetrate glass. Light is necessary for the skin to produce vitamin D, which, in turn balances calcium and phosphate levels in the system, both of which are essential for the normal functioning of many biochemcial pathways. Muscles in particular are affected by an imbalance, causing a tendency towards aches, pains and strains. The brain chemicals that switch on and turn off our levels of activity (including naturally produced melatonin) are all dependent upon amounts of ultraviolet light. An absence created by being in an environment with no natural light, especially in the darker winter months, leads to fatigue and sleep disturbances.


Noise from extractor fans, air-conditioning units, traffic, the buzz of computers and the raised voices of colleagues not only continually activates the brain but sets up vibrations that affect the nervous system and increase the release of VOC from machines.

Sitting position

Chairs are increasingly designed with the user in mind but these are often expensive and most offices are furnished with chairs that encourage bad posture. Stooping over a desk closes up the chest cavity, therefore impeding breathing and applying compression to nerves as they leave the spinal column. This, in conjunction with a lack of exercise and calcium imbalances caused by a lack of natural light, leads fairly swiftly to structural problems. Repetitive strain injury is encouraged by all of this.

Poor nutrition

Many larger offices have canteens where the food may be bought in bulk to save costs and thereby is liable to be non-organic, processed and full of additives. It is likely to be microwaved in its preparation thereby removing some of the vital force .

Other factors

See Geopathic stress, which may come into play, depending on the position of the office building itself.

Insist upon fresh air, using suitable filters if necessary.

Insist upon natural light, preferably through open windows or, as a last resort, through natural-light bulbs.

If noise cannot be avoided, spend some time in silence when away from the office. Even relaxing music is stimulatory.

Get outside as much as possible (through breaks or at lunch time), spend time looking at the sky (not directly at the sun) and remember to take off any spectacles.

Ensure that a part of your day is spent at exercise.

Ensure an adequate diet .

A weekly (at least) session with a masseur or Shiatsu practitioner is sensible.

Consider inviting a practitioner with a knowledge of Sick Building Syndrome to visit, along with a Feng Shui practitioner