Cornell University Ergonomics Web


Alan Hedge (1), William A. Erickson (1), and Gail Rubin (2)

(1) Department of Design and Environmental Analysis, NYS College of Human Ecology, Cornell University, MVR Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853-4401, U.S.A.

(2) Biometrics Unit, Cornell University, Ithaca, U.S.A.


Results of a questionnaire survey of 939 workers from 5 air-conditioned offices where smoking was prohibited are reported. Levels of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, formaldehyde, respirable particulates, and temperature, relative humidity, and illuminance were measured in these buildings, but these did not correlate with symptom reports. The number of sick building syndrome symptoms per worker was related linearly to perceived indoor air quality, job stress, job satisfaction, allergies, eyewear, and seasonal affective disorder. Two hundred and fifty five of these workers also completed a battery of psychological measures. Measures of depression, personality variables, situational stress, vulnerability to stress, and individual differences in circadian rhythms did not correlate with the numbers of sick building syndrome symptoms per worker, although depression did correlate with the number of symptoms when these were weighted for their frequency of occurrence in the previous month. Job stress and perceptions of indoor air quality correlated with both the unweighted and weighted indices of sick building syndrome.