Quirks & Quarks

Bad Vibes: How shaking buildings could be making you sick

A new study is underway in the U.K. that will look into the impact on human health of buildings, bridges and stadiums that sway and vibrate
The Burj Khalifa is the world's tallest manmade structure, standing at 828 metres tall. (Mohammed Salem/Reuters)

A study is underway at the Universities of Bath and Exeter in the U.K. to look at the impact of buildings, bridges and stadiums that sway due to wind, and vibrate as a result of changing floor construction. Earlier studies indicated that people working and living in such buildings experience motion sickness, as well as fatigue, lack of motivation and headaches.


Dr. Antony Darby, an Associate Professor of Structural Engineering at the University of Bath will employ a new virtual reality simulator that can recreate the experience of a moving office tower, or vibrating floor. The simulator will also recreate the surroundings, including temperature, humidity, noise, air quality and even smells, all factors that can have an influence on human health in swaying and vibrating buildings. This will help scientists understand how people are affected in order that guidelines can be established for the construction of new structures, and the modification of existing buildings. 

Dr. Michael Wesolowsky, an Associate Principal with Canada's Swallow Acoustic Consultants Thonton Tomasetti, will be part of an advisory committee for Dr. Darby's research.