Estimated Ventilation Rates and Work-Related Symptoms in U.S. Office Buildings - The Base Study

TitleEstimated Ventilation Rates and Work-Related Symptoms in U.S. Office Buildings - The Base Study
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsMark J Mendell, Quanhong Lei-Gomez, Michael G Apte, William J Fisk
EditorQuanhong Lei
Conference Name10th International Conference on Indoor Air Quality and Climate
Date Published2005
PublisherTsinghua University Press
Conference LocationBeijing, China
KeywordsCommercial Building Ventilation and Indoor Environmental Quality Group, health and productivity effects, indoor air quality, indoor environment department, office workers, respiratory symptoms, symptoms, ventilation, ventilation and air cleaning

Insufficient information has been available on measured ventilation rates and symptoms in office workers. Using U.S. EPA data from 100 large U.S. office buildings, we assessed relationships in multivariate models between ventilation/person and lower respiratory and mucous membrane symptoms. Three preliminary ventilation estimates were used, based on CO2 ratio in airstreams, peak indoor CO2 concentrations, and volumetric estimates of flow rates. Ventilation rates (VRs) from 6-17 cfm/person above the current 20 cfm/person guideline for offices were associated generally with reduced symptom prevalence, but further benefits were not evident from higher VRs. For all ventilation estimates, higher occupant density was independently associated with more symptoms. Findings suggest that VRs somewhat above current guidelines would reduce symptoms in office workers, and that occupant density may play an unrecognized role in ventilation requirements. Different findings for the various ventilation estimates were surprising. Clarification of these relationships, and validation of VR measurement methods are necessary.

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