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Ventilation Rates and Health: Multidisciplinary Review of the Scientific Literature



Andrew K. Persily, Jan Sundell, Hal Levin


The scientific literature through 2005 on the effects of ventilation rates on health in non-industrial indoor environments (offices, schools, homes, etc.) has been reviewed by a multidisciplinary group of scientists from diverse fields relevant to indoor environment and health. The group reviewed 74 papers published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and judged 27 as providing sufficient information on both ventilation rates and health effects to inform the relationship. Based on these papers, the group agreed that there is consistency across several investigators and different epidemiologic designs for different populations. There is coherence where there are multiple health end points showing similar relationships. There is biological plausibility even though the literature does not provide clear evidence of particular agent(s) for the effects. The group found that higher ventilation rates in offices, up to about 25 L/s per person, are associated with reduced prevalence of sick building syndrome (SBS) symptoms. The limited available data suggest that inflammation, respiratory infections, asthma symptoms, and short-term sick leave increase with lower ventilation rates. A study of children in a Nordic climate found that ventilation rates above 0.5 air changes per hour (h-1) in homes are associated with a reduced risk of allergic manifestations. The need remains for more studies of the relationship between ventilation rates and health, especially in warm and humid climates, in locations with polluted outdoor air and in buildings other than offices.
Indoor Air


Outdoor air supply rate, Indoor air quality, Offices, Schools, Homes


Persily, A. , Sundell, J. and Levin, H. (2010), Ventilation Rates and Health: Multidisciplinary Review of the Scientific Literature, Indoor Air (Accessed March 2, 2024)
Created November 25, 2010, Updated February 19, 2017