You are leaving Medscape Education
Cancel Continue
Log in to save activities Your saved activities will show here so that you can easily access them whenever you're ready. Log in here CME & Education Log in to keep track of your credits.



An Update on Sick Building Syndrome

  • Authors: Dan Norbäck, PhD
  • CME Released: 4/24/2009
  • Valid for credit through: 4/24/2010
Start Activity

Target Audience and Goal Statement

This activity is intended for primary care clinicians, pulmonologists, occupational clinicians, and other clinicians who care for patients with sick building syndrome.

The goal of this activity is to review features of sick building syndrome, potential causes and remedies, and ways to recognize and prevent the condition.

Upon completion of this activity, participants will be able to:

  1. Describe the 3 main categories of human reactions to the indoor environment
  2. Describe recommendations for CO2 and outdoor ventilation airflow rate
  3. Identify volatile organic compounds associated with indoor air pollution and sick building syndrome (SBS)
  4. List lifestyle factors associated with SBS
  5. Describe interventions that reduce the impact of SBS


As an organization accredited by the ACCME, MedscapeCME requires everyone who is in a position to control the content of an education activity to disclose all relevant financial relationships with any commercial interest. The ACCME defines "relevant financial relationships" as financial relationships in any amount, occurring within the past 12 months, including financial relationships of a spouse or life partner, that could create a conflict of interest.

MedscapeCME encourages Authors to identify investigational products or off-label uses of products regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration, at first mention and where appropriate in the content.


  • Dan Norbäck, PhD

    Associate Professor, Department of Medical Science, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, University Hospital, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden


    Disclosure: Dan Norbäck, PhD, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.


  • Stephen T. Holgate, MD, DSc, FRCP

    Member, Infection, Inflammation, and Repair Division, School of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton, United Kingdom


    Disclosure: Stephen T. Holgate, MD, DSc, FRCP, has disclosed that he has served as an advisor or consultant to Merck Sharp & Dohme, Ltd., Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, Synergen, Roche Laboratories Inc., Laboratorios Almirall, S.A., Rotta Pharmaceuticals, and Altair Engineering, Inc. Dr. Holgate has also disclosed that he owns stock, stock options, or bonds in Synergen.

  • J. Andrew Grant, MD

    Professor, Departments of Medicine and Microbiology-Immunology; Training Program Director in Allergy-Immunology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas


    Disclosure: J. Andrew Grant, MD, has disclosed that he has received grants for clinical research from ViroPharma Incorporated and Dyax Corp.

  • Nancy Otto, PharmD

    Scientific Director, MedscapeCME


    Disclosure: Nancy Otto, PharmD, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

CME Author(s)

  • Désirée Lie, MD, MSEd

    Clinical Professor, Family Medicine, University of California, Orange; Director, Division of Faculty Development, UCI Medical Center, Orange, California


    Disclosure: Désirée Lie, MD, MSEd, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Accreditation Statements

    For Physicians

  • MedscapeCME is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

    MedscapeCME designates this educational activity for a maximum of 0.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™ . Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

    Contact This Provider

For questions regarding the content of this activity, contact the accredited provider for this CME/CE activity noted above. For technical assistance, contact [email protected]

Instructions for Participation and Credit

There are no fees for participating in or receiving credit for this online educational activity. For information on applicability and acceptance of continuing education credit for this activity, please consult your professional licensing board.

This activity is designed to be completed within the time designated on the title page; physicians should claim only those credits that reflect the time actually spent in the activity. To successfully earn credit, participants must complete the activity online during the valid credit period that is noted on the title page.

Follow these steps to earn CME/CE credit*:

  1. Read the target audience, learning objectives, and author disclosures.
  2. Study the educational content online or printed out.
  3. Online, choose the best answer to each test question. To receive a certificate, you must receive a passing score as designated at the top of the test. Medscape encourages you to complete the Activity Evaluation to provide feedback for future programming.

You may now view or print the certificate from your CME/CE Tracker. You may print the certificate but you cannot alter it. Credits will be tallied in your CME/CE Tracker and archived for 6 years; at any point within this time period you can print out the tally as well as the certificates by accessing "Edit Your Profile" at the top of your Medscape homepage.

*The credit that you receive is based on your user profile.


An Update on Sick Building Syndrome: Practical Prevention of Sick Building Syndrome


Practical Prevention of Sick Building Syndrome

Complaints about poor indoor air quality should be considered as an early indication of disturbances in the indoor environment. Reduced room temperature and effective cleaning routines are simple means to reduce the prevalence of SBS. It is important to clean not only the floors but also other horizontal surfaces. Moreover, carpeting and other textile materials should be minimized, unless it can be clearly demonstrated that they are properly cleaned. Personal outdoor air supply rate in buildings should be kept at at least 10 l/s, which is somewhat higher than most current ventilation standards. Exposure to microorganisms, which may grow in damp houses, or be spread by air-conditioning systems, should also be minimized. Chemical emissions from building materials should be reduced by selecting low emitting materials and products. In many buildings with SBS, the reason for complaints and illness may be obvious and the problem is easily solved by simple means. In other buildings, however, the inhabitants may exhibit persisting symptoms despite various environmental improvements. There is, however, enough information available to give some general recommendations for the secondary prevention of SBS, and these recommendations are similar to those for primary prevention.