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How that high-rise you work in might be making you sick

Air pollution and environmental issues have become hot topics over the past few years. Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that progress has been made in reducing six of our air's key outdoor pollutants, researchers cannot say the same in terms of having gained an upper hand on the quality of the air that we breathe indoors. In fact, recent data compiled by the EPA suggests that the number of workers that get sick in the workplace may actually be on the rise.

While many would think that newer buildings would offer a better indoor air quality than that of older buildings, that's not necessarily the case. This is because buildings that are energy efficient tend to be sealed off. This reduces the amount of fresh air that is able to seep through, leaving more pollutant-filled, stale air to recirculate instead. The EPA reports that as many as one in four of the country's either new or recently renovated buildings could be considered to be "sick" ones.

In addition to the absence of incoming fresh air, employees who work in high-rises are susceptible to a number of additional harmful toxins. These include such hazards as carbon monoxide, smoker's secondhand smoke, ozone, pesticides and cleaning products. They each have different ways they enter the workplace's air. Car exhaust and cigarette smoke, for example, enter the air from outdoors via the building's intake vents located near loading docks or parking garages.

Each of these toxins has the impact of leaving workers nauseous, dizzy, headache-prone, irritable, with respiratory infections or with allergic reactions. Environmental experts argue that these toxins are responsible for costing businesses billions of dollars in lost productivity each year. If left untreated, employees face the prospect of chronic illness and perhaps even death.

If you're experiencing some of these different symptoms, it's important that you visit your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment of your medical condition. If it's believed that you've contracted some type of building-related disease, such as sick building syndrome, you might find it helpful to seek out the guidance of a Santa Ana workers' compensation attorney. He or she can advise you of the benefits associated with filing a claim against your employer to recover medical expenses and other damages.

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