Background: The Office Illness Project in Northern Sweden, comprising both a screening questionnaire study of 4943 office workers and a case-referent study of Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) in 464 subjects was recently completed. Previously published results from the survey showed that female gender asthma/rhinitis, high psychosocial work load, paper and visual display terminal (VDT) work were related to an increased prevalence of SBS symptoms.
Methods: The case-referent study presented in this paper used data from the questionnaire supplemented with information from a clinical examination, a survey of psychosocial factors at work building data from inspection and measurements taken at the work sites.
Results: Personal factors such as atopy and photosensitive skin, psychosocial conditions and physical exposure factors influencing indoor air quality (IAQ), such as outdoor air flow rates and the presence of photocopiers were related to an increased prevalence of the reported SBS symptoms. The results were established using multivariate analysis.
Conclusions: The rate response relationship between actually measured ventilation rates and the prevalence of perceived SBS symptoms presents strong evidence for the association between IAQ factors and health.