Air Quality and Migranes at work
October 5, 2006 5:03 PM   Subscribe

Air Quality @ Work and migranes - What to do if I think there might be a problem?

I recently (6 mos ago) changed a jobs. My previous jobs were both small companies (<5 people), and now I work in a multilevel, 150 person company.

Many employees have complained about air quality in the building, but it seems as though a few loud people, who effect a few others. I have heard roughly 10 people say ANYTHING about air quality, and even then, they didn't seem to have any specific gripes, except that there wasnt enough fresh air, and I think it is because they have enclosed offices.

Recently I have started having frequent migranes. I used to have them once or twice a year for the last five years or so. Since the job switch (6 mos ago) I have had three. The job is arguably more stressful, I live in a new apartment (9 mos), and naturally it could be anything else (exercise, lack of, food, etc).

Just because it is on my mind, how would one know if there are environmental concerns at work that should be brought up? I have been thinking of putting a roof on my cubicle and getting my own lights, as the flourescent has given me headaches in the past, but never migranes.

posted by SirStan to Health & Fitness (7 answers total)
Fluorescent lights give me migraines. If I didn't bring an incandescent lamp to my office, and leave the fluorescent overhead off, I would have at least one migraine a week. I know this from experience.

In a cubicle, it's harder to do this, of course. I would start by asking if you can be moved to a cubicle (if such exists) with a light that is only over that cubicle. Then stand on a chair or a desk, and carefully unscrew the fluorescent tubes just enough so that they go off (they'll be hot, so put something over your hands). Put in an incandescent floor lamp and you're good to go.
posted by cerebus19 at 7:17 PM on October 5, 2006

Is it a new building? If so, chances are there is balck mold present as new construction is so tight that if a moisture problem is present black mold will be locked into the local enviroment and spread through out by the ventilation system.
It contributes to what is known as "Sick Building Syndrome". Get out your Clorox and spray it everywhere. I mean EVERYWHERE. Even above that drop ceiling. Black Mold has serious health risks associated with it, so have your envirnoment tested by an appropriate health official. This is NOT something to let slide, act on it now. The problem will only get worse. A water damage specialist would know how to deal with this problem. Good luck luck to ye...........
posted by sgobbare at 7:47 PM on October 5, 2006

Have you reported it to your supervisor? A company your size might also have an ergonomic specialist, or something of the like who also is responsible for environmental issues, but start with your supervisor. Something similar happened in my same- sized office, and it was taken quite seriously.
posted by puddinghead at 9:01 PM on October 5, 2006

I am in the air quality business. . .if you want to email me, I would be glad to guide you through some things that can help you figure out if it is the building or not.

There are lots of variables, and in order to say anything coherent about yhour sitch, I need to get more info.

Feel free.
posted by Danf at 9:22 PM on October 5, 2006

Chances are a whole load of things are contributing towards making you more likely to have migraines, including changes in your own behaviour, so do what you can to sort out things that are under your control.

If you find the working environment really unpleasant and your skills are in demand then consider leaving rather than spending a huge chunk of your life feeling ill.
posted by malevolent at 11:39 PM on October 5, 2006

There's definitely a connection between migraines and air quality, but it's usually things like auto exhaust that are triggers.

Migraines cycle in frequency. If you have a history of them before the job switch, you might be simply on an upswing. Before investigating the work situation, you might look at other possible triggers (by Googling "migraine triggers") and eliminate these possibilities first.
posted by Gordion Knott at 4:33 AM on October 6, 2006

It's always difficult to find your triggers. It could be any of the following frequent triggers:
  • chocolate
  • caffine
  • glare from your monitor/natural light
  • odours
  • tiredness
  • skipping meals/low blood sugar
Thanksfully I've not had a migrane for about a decade, but between 12 and 15 I had them all the time. I found it was irregular mealtimes (skipping lunch, not eating until late into the evenings) that was triggering them. The guy that sits next to me at work gets terrible migraines from caffine.

If you think it is the air, have a word with your Health & Safety inspector.
posted by xpermanentx at 8:21 AM on October 6, 2006

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