Going To The Office? Be Careful, It Is A Chemical Soup


Written by Lloyd Alter

As if you didn’t have enough to worry about, what with filling out TPS reports and dealing with the boss. It turns out that the Office Space is full of polyfluorinated compounds (PFCs) that may be causing reproductive, developmental, liver and immune problems. (TreeHugger has noted that they may also be linked to ADHD, which may account for some of the odd behavior at Initech)

Emily Sohn writes in Discovery News:

People who spend the most time at the office have the highest levels of polyfluorinated compounds (PFC) levels in their blood, found a new study, which also showed a direct link between chemical levels in the air of a personís workplace and the amount of PFCs in his/her blood.

This is the stuff that makes fabrics stain resistant and water resistant, and is probably in the fabric that the cube farms are made of, the carpet tiles and in the upholstery in the chairs. The most surprising result of the study is that levels were highest in the new buildings and lowest in older offices; I thought that most manufacturers were phasing these chemicals out.

Its amazing that people can put up with spending a third of their day in a chemical soup of PFCs and flame retardants, not to mention every other chemical spouted out of the copiers and printers and used for cleaning, in sealed boxes with lousy ventilation. People deserve better. It is one reason I like LEED for offices; they give points for more ventilation and source control.

This post was originally published by TreeHugger.


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Photo: Office Space/screen capture


Meris M.
Meris M.5 years ago

Other office pollution to consider is the electromagnetic radiation emitted by wireless devices - computers operated by wi-fi, cell phones, etc. but few persons are conscious of the potential harmful health effects of this technology due to the misinformation and secrecy of the trillion-dollar wireless induustry.

Chad A.
Chad Anderson5 years ago

The oldest buildings on our new campus is about three years old and I do a lot of ventilating. I have moved temporarily into the guest hous and have to run the fan all the time to keep the chemical smell down. I worry about what this is doing to me...

Eileen W.
Eileen W5 years ago

This has been known about for donkeys years. Here in Britain it's called 'building sickness'. I don't know if things have improved here lately as I haven't been in an office for...well, for donkeys years, lol...so maybe new offices have the condition taken into account. Mind, considering how crap new-builds are here, they probably don't!

Ian Fletcher
Ian Fletcher5 years ago

Makes me feel like I need fresh air.

Laurie D.
Laurie D5 years ago

I work on the flightline in a hangar... talk about TOXIC!! My asthma has NEVER been this bad! Sadly, toxins are every where and it seems no one in the professional world wants to make changes for the health of the worker!!!

Mercedes Lackey
Mercedes Lackey5 years ago

After months of crippling migraines and impacted sinuses back in the 80s when we were forced to move from old offices to brand new new ones with new carpet, furniture and a completely closed air circulating system, I finally got "permission" to move back to the old ones and my healthy improved immediately. Now I know why.

John Mansky
John Mansky5 years ago

Thank you for the article...

Amanda M.
Amanda M5 years ago

Considering the walls those "cube farms" are made of, I'm not surprised. Add the carpeted floors, the plastics that the computers have in them, other PFCs everywhere, and the fact that there are no windows you can open which leaves you at the mercy of the central air/heat, and it's no wonder. Modern office buildings are giant fume boxes-blech!

Having worked security at a number of these places for years, I can only recoil at the thought of what kind of crap my system took in during that time. Those of you who are still trapped in that bleck, you have my sympathies!

Rosie Lopez
Rosie Lopez5 years ago