Tue, 18 Mar 2003

'High-rise buildings not healthy'

JAKARTA: Most high-rise buildings in the country have an unhealthy working environment that could render psychological distress or cause respiratory diseases among the people working there, a government official says.

Director of Water Hygiene and Sanitation Hening Darpito at the Ministry of Health said during a health seminar here on Monday that modern buildings, with closed airconditioned rooms and utilizing synthetic construction materials, have poor air circulation so they become host to microbiological organisms such as bacteria and fungus.

Such organisms can cause Sick Building Syndrome (SBS), such as respiratory problems, headaches, rashes and lethargy, or Building Related Illness (BRI) like allergies and infections.

A building can be considered unhealthy if 20 percent of its tenants experience SBS or BRI symptoms without any clear causes, and the symptoms disappear when they leave the building.

A report in Singapore showed that so far, there have been 43 SBS and BRI cases, of which four have died.

In Indonesia, a survey on several Jakarta hotels showed that 20 percent contained legionella bacteria, which causes pneumonia. -- JP