FI SV EN

Government’s analysis, assessment and research activities
Report: Symptoms associated with indoor air more common at workplaces than at home

Government Communications DepartmentMinistry of Education and CultureMinistry of Social Affairs and HealthMinistry of the Environment 25.2.2019 13.00
Press release 120/2019

About one out of five working-age women and one out of ten working-age men have experienced symptoms caused by indoor air at workplaces during the past 12 months. Symptoms are far more common at workplaces than at home. Symptoms occurred the most frequently in the municipal care services and education sectors. This is the conclusion of a project carried out by the National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, and the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities.

The project SisäNyt carried out by the National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities was concerned with indoor air quality and the current situation and development in terms of health harm associated with it in private and public building stock in Finland and in certain reference countries. The results of the project will be utilised in the implementation of the programme on healthy indoor environments (Terveet tilat 2028).

Symptoms less common at home than at workplaces

The data for the project on indoor air quality and the current situation in terms of harm to the health associated with it came from the FinTerveys2017 study of the National Institute for Health and Welfare and the indoor air questionnaire of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.

According to the FinTerveys2017 study, about one out of three women and one out of five men experience symptoms from indoor air at some point of their lives. Symptoms are far less common at home than at work. Of the working-age population, about 10% of women and 6% of men have sometimes experienced symptoms relating to indoor air at home.

Symptoms increasingly common in the 2010s

According to the indoor air questionnaire of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, experiencing symptoms at workplaces was increasingly common in 2011–2012 and 2015–2017 compared to earlier data from 1996–1999.

In 2015–2017 experiencing symptoms in workplaces was more common in the municipal sector than in the central government or private sector. There were no major differences in the frequency of symptoms between the private sector and central government employment. The data for central government workplaces mostly came from office work, while many of the jobs in the municipal sector were in care services and education.

According to the indoor air questionnaire, experiencing symptoms has increased, while a similar increase has not occurred in the reported harm associated with workplace conditions. Based on the indoor air questionnaire alone it is impossible to determine all the factors behind the increased experiencing of symptoms. For this further investigations and studies are needed. What should be studied is why experiencing symptoms is much more common at workplaces than at home, and what is the role of air impurities at work and home and other environmental factors in terms of experiencing symptoms.

The final report of the project on indoor air and health (SisäNyt) will be published in autumn 2019.

Policy Brief 6/2019: Indoor air and health: development, current situation, monitoring, and comparison between different countries and between the public and private sector (in Finnish)

Inquiries: Anne Hyvärinen, Research Professor, National Institute for Health and Welfare +358 29 524 6364, anne.hyvarinen(at)thl.fi, Katja Tähtinen, Senior Specialist, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health p. +358 50 467 0369, katja.tahtinen(at)ttl.fi and for the programme on healthy indoor environments (Terveet tilat 2028) Marika Paavilainen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Prime Minister’s Office, tel. + 358 29 516 0462, marika.paavilanen(at)vnk.fi