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Defective Homes - Sick Building Syndrome Is A Form Of Premises Liability In SW Florida

For those living and working in Englewood, Punta Gorda, or North Port premises, liability is a part of Florida law that is there to look out for them. Premises liability means that if a property owner sees a potential risk of injury on their property and decides to ignore it, any injury to a visitor or employee resulting from that negligence is the property owner’s legal and financial responsibility.

However, many people associate premises liability with physical hazards, such as a slippery floor or letting young children play at a swimming pool unsupervised. Other types of property hazards fall under premises liability, and “sick building syndrome” is one of them.

Related: Chinese Drywall

Possibly the most infamous sick-building syndrome in our area was the Chinese Drywall Problem. Thousands of area homes were constructed with drywall that contained dangerous compounds that sickened people across southwest Florida

What Is Sick Building Syndrome?

SBS, as it is sometimes called, refers to a building with defective properties that result in residents, employees, or visitors manifesting symptoms of sickness just by being in the building. This is known as “Building Related Illness” or BRI and varies in nature. Some types of BRI take weeks or even months of exposure before symptoms develop, while others can occur in people within minutes of entering the building.

This display of symptoms and the types of illnesses that occur is a complex mix of whatever is the cause of the BRI combined with individual sensitivities. For example, some people with a pre-existing respiratory condition, such as asthma, may be far more vulnerable to BRI than others. Age can also play a factor, as BRI may be more evident in children or the elderly, who aren’t in the same “peak health” condition as adults in their prime. BRI comes from many potential different causes, including:

Inadequate Ventilation

Sometimes alterations to a building, or even poor original architectural design, result in facilities that don’t adequately distribute clean, breathable air to all parts of the property. There are situations where some parts of a building are “air-poor,” and as a result, people in that part of the building suffer from the symptoms and negative performance associated with poor or reduced air intake.

Internal Chemical Contaminants

Some portions of a building may be used for storage purposes or contain components that emit volatile organic compounds. If the storage or presence of these contaminants is not properly accounted for, the resulting VOCs can distribute through the air and affect anyone on the property who continuously inhales them while on the property. Unvented kerosene, carbon monoxide, and even particulates from wood or gas-burning stoves can all be factors.

External Chemical Contaminants

In other situations, contaminants can make their way into a building from outside sources due to poor ventilation or other design defects. For example, a kitchen with improperly installed ventilation can admit car exhaust from the nearby road just as readily as it expels smoke and oil from cooking activities.

Biological Contaminants

One of the most common sources of biological contamination is mold, which is also extremely challenging to remove. Mold of different types persists in different environments, such as dark, humid building locations where undiscovered leaks have occurred. Mold inhalation can cause various illnesses in people should they be exposed to the spores long enough.


Keep an eye out for the following symptoms in buildings:

• Headaches
• Eye, throat, and nose irritation
• Coughing
• Dry/Itchy skin
• Dizziness
• Nausea

And others. If you live or work in the Fort Meyers, Sarasota, or Port Charlotte region of Florida, and you think a building’s property owner has been negligent and created a sick building syndrome situation that has affected you, talk to an experienced premises liability lawyer about your situation. Injuries are not limited to slips and falls; a lawyer can help if a building has been making you sick while you’ve been in it and can guide you to appropriate legal action.

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