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Venting for health: indoor air quality improvements from upgraded ventilation systems in multifamily high-rise housing

Last updated: 10-07-2020

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Venting for health: indoor air quality improvements from upgraded ventilation systems in multifamily high-rise housing

Venting for health: indoor air quality improvements from upgraded ventilation systems in multifamily high-rise housing
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Abstract
The impact of sealing ventilation shafts, installing self-balancing dampers and larger capacity exhaust fans on indoor air quality has not yet been thoroughly investigated. We examined IAQ outcomes in two groups of high-rise multifamily public housing. Both study and control group dwellings received ventilation shaft cleaning. The study group also received higher horsepower rooftop fans and ventilation shaft sealing to prevent leakage, and self-balancing dampers. We conducted interviews with residents 1 year before ventilation work and again 1 year after ventilation work completion (n = 96 households; 45 in the study group and 51 in the control group) that asked about housing conditions. In some dwellings, we also tested airflow and indoor air quality, including volatile organic compounds, carbon dioxide (CO2), and formaldehyde. Ventilation improved in the study group and decreased in the control group. Across both groups, dwellings had statistically significant decreases in musty odors and presence of cockroaches. The study group’s ventilation upgrades increased airflow inside those dwellings, and the airflow in study group bathrooms was significantly better than that of control group bathrooms. These increased ventilation rates were associated with statistically significant improvements in relative humidity, CO2, and formaldehyde in the study group. Enhanced ventilation should be implemented in multifamily housing to improve indoor air quality.
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