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Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 1998 Sep;71(6):372-8.

Prevalence of irritative symptoms in a nonproblem air-conditioned office building.

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Institute of Occupational Medicine and Professional and Environmental Toxicology, Department of Internal Medicine, Pathology and Pharmacology, University of Perugia, Italy. MEDLAV@IPGUNIV.UNIPG.IT



To assess the prevalence of work-related complaints and symptoms in employees in an air-conditioned office building (Building AC) in a mild climatic area (Italy). No discomfort had previously been reported.


A total of 198 employees in Building AC and 281 controls working in three naturally ventilated buildings (Building NV) answered a questionnaire investigating work-related complaints and symptoms.


A significantly higher percentage of workers in Building AC reported a lack of comfort in the working environment as compared with the controls (30.6% versus 18.9%). The most common complaints were strong lighting, high temperature, and dry, dusty, and/or stuffy air. The prevalence of ocular, upper airway, and cutaneous symptoms was significantly higher (29.8% versus 14.9%, 25.3% versus 9.6%, and 14.1% versus 3.6%, respectively). No significant difference was observed in respiratory or general symptoms. Logistic regression analysis showed that working with video display units and photocopiers influenced ocular symptoms; upper airway and cutaneous symptoms were influenced by female gender and working in the air-conditioned building.


In an apparently healthy air-conditioned office building, complaints and symptoms are reported more often than in a naturally ventilated edifice, but the prevalence is lower than that usually observed in sick buildings. Symptoms are influenced by individual and work-related characteristics.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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