Could a bad design in your home make you sick?

“Sick Building Syndrome”, the effects of a bad design on your health.

By Arch. Hector Solórzano

home design


We spend a lot of time inside buildings, whether in the office or at home. The spaces we inhabit influence our lives, perhaps more than we can imagine. This is why it is important that they have an adequate design in order to allow us to develop our activities. The human being has created shelters to defend himself against the hostile climate, achieve a space of thermal equilibrium and ensure a favorable productive environment.

Microenvironments within buildings can be an extremely relevant variant of the effect of buildings on occupant’s health, according to a WHO (World Health Organization) study when symptoms affect more than 20% of the building occupants, it can be considered “Sick building syndrome.” Here I tell you how it can affect you and how you can avoid it.


Design is an action that we have in charge to improve the conditions of the interior spaces that we will inhabit.

Ventilation. Cross ventilation improves air quality. The use of air conditioning vitiates air quality. A constant flow of air stream will purify the interiors of suspended substances.

Distribution. Appropriate distribution of spaces can help protect the environment from street noise and minimize interior noise, to achieve better rest and reduce stress.

Humidity. Moisture in buildings can favor mold growth, excessive moisture can cause respiratory irritation, allergies and infections. The spaces with good lighting and ventilation help prevent mold growing, closed places such as wardrobes, bathrooms and service patios are the most exposed to the growth of molds in their delimiting walls.

Finishes. Several studies show a correlation between certain materials used on surfaces in closed environments, among the materials are PVC floors and walls made of chlorine and / or petroleum, new linoleum, synthetic carpets and chipboard. Children are the most sensitive to these substances, generating bronchial obstructions, wheezing, symptoms of allergy to materials containing plasticizers. Ceramics and brick tile could be an option.

Paints. Insulating materials and most oil-derived paints are also highly toxic. There are paints that are obtained from vegetables or minerals and have a less harmful impact on our health.


Your home is a place of protection; however, the opposite can happen because the same building can accumulate a large number of disease-causing toxins without the occupants being aware of them. The products used in its construction create an environment in which complex chemical emissions and reactions can occur. The first direct emissions are those of the newly used materials, once the construction is finished. Second emissions and those considered as achronic diseases effect are from the life of the material, for example, moisture, alkaline substances in the concrete mixture, ozone from electrical equipment or cleaning substances.

I encourage you to check your home and office, the information is available here, and just do not forget that, the project taking into account the optimal orientation, adequate ventilation and the choice of materials is our responsibility, which we must demand from the architect.

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