What does the scientific literature tell us about the ventilation-health relationship in public and residential buildings?

  • Carrer P
  • Wargocki P
  • Fanetti A
 et al. 
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Objective of this paper is to examine whether the available epidemiological evidence provides information on the link between outdoor air ventilation rates and health, and whether it can be used for regulatory purposes when setting ventilation requirements for non-industrial built environments.Effects on health were seen for a wide range of outdoor ventilation rates from 6 to 7 L/s per person, which were the lowest ventilation rates at which no effects on any health outcomes were observed in field studies, up to 25-40 L/s per person, which were in some studies the lowest outdoor ventilation rates at which no effects on health outcomes were seen. These data show that, in general, higher ventilation rates in many cases will reduce health outcomes, and that there are the minimum rates, at which some health outcomes can be avoided. But these data have many limitations, such as crude estimation of outdoor ventilation rates, diversity and variability of ventilation rates at which effects were seen, a diversity of outcomes (in case of health otcomes being mainly acute not chronic). Among other limitations there are incomplete data on the strength of pollution sources and exposures as well as a wide range of sensibility of the exposed populations.The available data do not provide a sound basis for determining specific outdoor air ventilation rates that can be universally applicable in different public and residential buildings to protect against health risks. They cannot be used for regulative purposes, unless the required ventilation rates are related to actual exposures and are prescribed only when full advantage of other methods for controlling exposures has been taken.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Airborne respiratory infections
  • Allergy and asthma
  • Cognitive performance and productivity
  • Non-industrial indoor environments
  • Outdoor air supply rate
  • Perceived air quality
  • Pollution source control
  • Respiratory symptoms
  • SBS
  • Sick building syndrome
  • Sick leave
  • Ventilation
  • Ventilation rate

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