The aim was to study relationships between symptoms compatible with the sick building syndrome, type of heating and ventilation system, energy saving, and reconstruction in older dwellings. In Stockholm, 4815 inhabitants in 231 multi-family buildings built before 1961 were randomly selected, of whom 3241 participated (77%). Symptoms and personal factors were assessed by a postal questionnaire. Independent information on building characteristics, and energy saving measures was gathered from the building owners. Multiple logistic regression analysis was applied to calculate odds ratios (OR) adjusting for age, gender, hay fever, current smoking, population density, type of ventilation, type of heating system, and ownership of the building. Subjects in buildings with a mechanical ventilation system had less ocular and nasal symptoms (OR = 0.29-0.85). Heating by electric radiators, and wood heating was associated with an increase of most symptoms (OR = 1.18-1.74). In total, 48% lived in buildings that had gone through at least one type of reconstruction or energy saving remedies during the latest 10 years, including exchange of heating or ventilation system, and sealing measures (exchange of windows, sealing of window frames, roof/attic insulation, and phasade insulation). Energy saving was associated with both a decrease and increase of different symptoms. Major reconstruction of the interior of the building was associated with an increase of most symptoms (OR = 1.09-1.90), and buildings with more than one sealing measure had an increase of ocular, nasal symptoms, headache and tiredness (OR = 1.22-2.49). In conclusion, major reconstruction of the interior, direct heated electric radiators, wood heating, and multiple sealing of buildings were associated with an increase of some symptoms. The study supports the view that mechanical ventilation in dwellings is beneficial from a health point of view.
2003. Vol. 13, no 3, 206-211 p.