Our homes after the Kerala floods : Sick Building Syndrome
(Know what is SBS and how to prevent it)
Yes! It is painful to see your precious home inundated in water. Damage to the homes caused be recent Kerala floods is beyond expression. Anyways, what has happened has happened! Undoubtedly, rebuilding life inside the flood affected homes is the challenge of the hour. And the biggest one among that is SBS or Sick Building Syndrome.
What is Sick Building Syndrome (SBS)?
Sick Building Syndrome refers to a medical condition in which the occupants of a ‘sick’ building feel unwell. A building can become ‘sick’ after a natural calamity (like flood) or as a result of inadequate ventilation or poor building design and construction.
If your house got affected by flood and you feel uneasiness like headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea and eye, nose and throat irritations, it could be because of SBS.
It is caused by moulds living in wet and damp areas in your house. They grow and breed by releasing spores on damp walls, carpets, clothes and furniture. When you come in contact with these fungi species, it triggers allergic reactions in your body.
Types of Sick Building Syndrome in homes affected by Kerala floods
The common types of moulds causing SBS post Kerala floods are as aspergillus and penicillium. The mould Aspergillus is notorious for triggering lung problems.
These can cause you allergic rhinitis and recurrent sinusitis. All the more, if you have COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), it will turn to infection.
Symptoms and Types of Diseases
SBS can be identified by looking for symptoms like mucus-membrane irritation, chest or nose congestion, chest infection, headache or stuffiness. When it aggravates, the respiratory airway tubes gets blocked with spasm. And if you are an asthma patient, you need to be more cautious as it could turn into infections.
Apart from respiratory problems, SBS causes skin irritations, gastrointestinal complaints and lowered sensory receptivity. In a developed country like Sweden, SBS from post flood moulds have made 45% of reported victims unable to work.
Well, the good news is that you can save yourself from SBS by taking a few protective steps.
Protective mechanism against SBS post Kerala floods
Whenever you come across white, black or green mould in any area of your house, get rid of it. Drying and disinfecting wet and damp areas will stop further mould growth.
- Wear N-95 masks – Wear N-95 masks while cleaning the house to protect yourself from mould induced respiratory problems. And if you are asthmatic always wear masks and also carry preventive inhaler continuously.
- Allow proper ventilation – Keep the doors and windows of the house open as much as possible allowing air to flow freely and dry up the dampness. Follow continuous aeration on sunny days to dry up any leftover moisture on the walls.
- Fumigate Rooms with Sulphur Dioxide – To get rid of hiding moulds, fumigate rooms regularly. Close the rooms and burn Sulphur in a ceramic vessel to let it penetrate crevices on walls. Let the fumes stay in the house for half an hour before opening the windows. If you spot mould growth again, repeat fumigation process till it is resolved.
- Disinfect the premises with bleaching powder – Sprinkling Bleaching powder can kill the germs and fungi growing in your home surroundings. Please note to exercise caution as overuse of bleaching powder can kill good bacteria required in the soil.
- There are several Ayurvedic mechanisms also to deal with such conditions based on the type of wall, floor and ventilation. One such method is to make a kashayam by boiling karingotta (Niepa Bark tree) leaves, karingali kaathal, and neem leaves. The kashayam when cooled should be mixed with pulthailam (lemon grass) and sprinkled on the affected walls. Click here for more detailed Ayurvedic tips.
- Consult a doctor – If you come across any of the symptoms mentioned above, immediately consult a doctor and take required medications.
Follow these and get back to normal life in your home as soon as possible.
Moreover let us show the true spirit of Malayali and overcome these challenges. Let us stand together and help each other to rebuild Kerala. Karmabodhaka Public Charitable Trust (CSR wing of Viya) stand by you!