Association of ventilation rates and CO2 concentrations with health and other responses in commercial and institutional buildings

Indoor Air. 1999 Dec;9(4):226-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0668.1999.00003.x.


This paper reviews current literature on the associations of ventilation rates and carbon dioxide concentrations in non-residential and non-industrial buildings (primarily offices) with health and other human outcomes. Twenty studies, with close to 30,000 subjects, investigated the association of ventilation rates with human responses, and 21 studies, with over 30,000 subjects, investigated the association of carbon dioxide concentration with these responses. Almost all studies found that ventilation rates below 10 Ls-1 per person in all building types were associated with statistically significant worsening in one or more health or perceived air quality outcomes. Some studies determined that increases in ventilation rates above 10 Ls-1 per person, up to approximately 20 Ls-1 per person, were associated with further significant decreases in the prevalence of sick building syndrome (SBS) symptoms or with further significant improvements in perceived air quality. The carbon dioxide studies support these findings. About half of the carbon dioxide studies suggest that the risk of sick building syndrome symptoms continued to decrease significantly with decreasing carbon dioxide concentrations below 800 ppm. The ventilation studies reported relative risks of 1.5-2 for respiratory illnesses and 1.1-6 for sick building syndrome symptoms for low compared to high low ventilation rates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / adverse effects
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / prevention & control*
  • Carbon Dioxide / adverse effects
  • Carbon Dioxide / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Occupational Health*
  • Public Health*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sick Building Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Sick Building Syndrome / etiology*


  • Carbon Dioxide