ASHRAE Studies Impact of Ventilation on Health

March 30, 2006
Researchers hope to uncover the benefits of building ventilation

The impact of ventilation rates on occupant health is being studied through ASHRAE research. “ASHRAE’s guidance is widely referenced in the HVAC&R industry because it stays on top of new developments,” says Lead Researcher Jan Sundell, Danish Technical University, Copenhagen, Denmark. “The study will lead to an improved understanding of what science can tell us about the relationship between ventilation and health, which, in turn, will lead to more reliable information on the benefits of building ventilation. It also will give information about where there is a lack of knowledge, providing the basis for new research.”

He noted that ASHRAE’s ventilation standards primarily focus on occupant perception of indoor air quality, not health. A panel of leading authorities on indoor air pollution and health within medicine and engineering will review existing research and literature on the effect of ventilation on health in schools, offices, residences, etc. While the focus will be on ventilation rates, they also will look at pollutant sources, source strength, and pollutant concentrations.

Results may be used to update ASHRAE Standard 62.1,
Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality, and Standard 62.2-2004, Ventilation and Acceptable Indoor Air Quality in Low-Rise Residential Buildings.

The project,
Scientific Review of Existing Information Related to the Impact of Ventilation Related to Health, 1443-RP, was approved at ASHRAE’s 2006 Winter Meeting. It is expected to take 18 months to complete at a cost of $50,000 with funding coming from ASHRAE and the National Center for Energy Management and Building Technologies. The project is sponsored by the Environmental Health Committee. Researchers are Sundell and Hal Levin, Indoor Air Institute, Santa Cruz, CA.

This article was reprinted with permission from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), which is an international organization of 55,000 persons. Its sole objective is to advance through research, standards writing, publishing, and continuing education the arts and sciences of heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC&R) to serve humanity and promote a sustainable world. To find out more, visit (

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