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    How sick building syndrome symptoms can mimic dry eye

    For one sufferer, a change of career alleviated the problem


    What can be done to combat SBS

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends a number of measures to combat SBS.

    Core workplace modifications include pollutant removal, increased ventilation rates, and air cleaning. High performance filters can be useful in purifying ambient air.

    Phytoremediation is the use of plants to remove, metabolize, or degrade toxic environmental materials.

    The October 2010 issue of HortScience, The American Society for Horticultural Science’s online publication, reviewed different species of houseplants which were considered viable phytoremediation candidates for homes and offices where volatile formaldehyde is a concern.2

    Certain plants may be effective in removing formaldehyde from the atmosphere and vary in effectiveness of formaldehyde removal—depending on their species.

    Perhaps we should nurture the gardener in us and prescribe a pretty philodendron when managing ocular surface complaints!

    Related: Contact lenses and dry eye: Cause or remedy?


    1. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Indoor Air Facts No. 4: Sick Building Syndrome. Air and Radiation (6609J). Research and Development (MD-56). February 1991. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2014-08/documents/sick_building_factsheet.pdf. Accessed November 6, 2016.

    2. Kwang JK, Myeong IJ, Lee DW, Song JS, Kim HD, Yoo EH, Jeong SJ, Han SW. Variation in Formaldehyde Removal Efficiency among Indoor Plant Species. HortScience 45(10): 1489-1495. 2010.

    Katherine M. Mastrota, MS, OD, FAAO, Dipl ABO
    Director of Optometry, New York Hotel Trades Council, Hotel Association of New York City, Health Center, Inc.


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