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  • Zuzanna Rachmielowska

Ecological building materials are an opportunity to combat sick building syndrome.

Up to 30% of new buildings worldwide may contribute to health problems among their residents. This can be attributed to poor lighting, inadequate ventilation, excessively low or high temperatures, and inappropriate construction materials.

Recurring concentration issues, headaches, irritability, breathing problems, frequent colds, and weakened immunity constitute a combination of ailments referred to as Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). This condition is caused by being in a building that, due to design or the use of poor-quality construction materials, is characterized by low indoor air quality. According to a WHO report, up to 30 percent of new and renovated buildings worldwide may be subject to excessive user complaints related to indoor air quality. [1]

The most significant issues arise from the use of outdated, non-ecological construction technologies. For years, petroleum-derived polystyrene has been used for wall thermal insulation. Polystyrene has minimal vapor permeability, and combined with low-quality plasters and high diffusion-resistant paints, it deprives the building of any possibility of air exchange. Couple this with poor building ventilation, and we have a ready recipe for the development of various microorganisms, molds, or fungi in the walls of the house. – says Dr. Patryk Bolimowski, CTO of SYSTEM 3E, a manufacturer of ecological building materials made from perlite.

The World Health Organization, in the "White Book on Allergy," indicates that sensitivity to one or more allergens affects 40-50% of school-age children.[2] According to experts from Wroclaw Medical University and Wroclaw University of Science and Technology, children are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of pollution because they inhale more air per kilogram of body weight than adults. Children's lungs are still developing, making them more susceptible to the harmful effects of air pollution. Environmental pollution also hurts the development of neurons and cognitive abilities.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated issues related to Sick Building Syndrome. According to WHO recommendations, lockdowns were implemented, many companies transitioned to remote work, and school activities moved to electronic platforms. While lockdown policies have advantages in reducing the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, they may also contribute to worsening Sick Building Syndrome symptoms. The increased number of people conducting work or education activities at home, where proper ventilation is lacking, has led to a decline in indoor air quality. Popular cleaning and disinfecting agents, despite their beneficial antiviral properties, may also negatively affect the respiratory system of residents.

If prolonged stays in a building where we live or work cause headaches, frequent colds, concentration problems, or irritability, measures can be taken to counteract the effects of Sick Building Syndrome. Regularly ventilating rooms, changing lighting to be less strenuous on the eyes, or purchasing specific air-purifying plants can help reduce negative effects but may not fully resolve the problem.

Ensuring the health of residents should be a priority from the very early stages of construction. From properly planning the building's location to designing it in line with the latest architectural trends and choosing the construction material. SYSTEM 3E is a patented Polish technology for building walls using expanded perlite. Perlite is a naturally occurring volcanic rock that, when subjected to appropriate technological processes, acquires excellent technical parameters.

SYSTEM 3E is, above all, an ecological and healthy product. The material from which the elements are made has been designed to inhibit the growth of fungi and mold in the walls, ensuring a healthy climate for users throughout the entire period of building usage. Additionally, the product is characterized by high water vapor permeability (µ ≤ 15), and in combination with the lack of the need for additional thermal insulation in walls constructed using the SYSTEM 3E technology, we achieve an ecological barrier that supports air exchange in the home. adds Dr. Patryk Bolimowski.

The perlite elements in SYSTEM 3E, used to construct walls, have a low heat transfer coefficient of U=0.198 W/m2K. They don't require additional insulation with petroleum-derived polystyrene or other synthetic materials. The high thermal insulation parameters, combined with a thickness of only 35.2 cm, provide the thinnest yet warmest single-layer barrier available in the European Union. The Seal of Excellence certificate issued by the European Commission, the managing institution for the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme activities in research and innovation, attests to the innovation and high competitiveness of the SYSTEM 3E technology.

[3] Wolińska, I. A., Dykiert, K., Gać, P.,  & Poręba, M. (2022). Impact of air pollution on health, including the role of the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Health Inequalities, 8(1), 75-81.


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