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Sick building 'cure'

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Canadian researchers have come up with what they claim is a 'cure' for sick building syndrome.

The researchers, from McGill University in Montreal, discovered that ultra-violet lights inside ventilation systems can alleviate the syndrome by destroying microbes. They installed UV lights in three floors of an office block, switching them on and off over a period of three weeks. The 113 workers in the building reported fewer symptoms and took less sick leave during periods when the lights were on.

But such a small study is unlikely to have anything meaningful to say in terms of causality when set alongside work in the US analysing 100,000 people over 10 years. Professor Pat O'Sullivan of the Bartlett said: 'To the best of our knowledge bacteria levels in ductwork do not correlate with symptoms. Normally the problem is dust, rather than infection.'

Katherine Shonfield is away

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