The aim of the study was to test the hypothesis that a low-ventilation rate in homes is associated with an increased prevalence of asthma and allergic symptoms among children. A total of 198 cases (with at least two of three symptoms: wheezing, rhinitis, eczema) and 202 healthy controls, living in 390 homes, were examined by physicians. Ventilation rates were measured by a passive tracer gas method, and inspections were carried out in the homes. About 60% of the multi-family houses and about 80% of the single-family houses did not fulfill the minimum requirement regarding ventilation rate in the Swedish building code (0.5 air changes per hour, ach). Cases had significantly lower ventilation rates than controls and a dose-response relationship was indicated.
Practical implications: A low-ventilation rate of homes may be a risk factor for allergies among children. Families with allergic children should be given the advice to have good ventilation in the home. In investigations, of associations between environmental factors and allergies, the air change rate in homes has to be considered.