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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The ventilation problem in schools: literature review

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Based on a review of literature published in refereed archival journals, ventilation rates in classrooms often fall far short of the minimum ventilation rates specified in standards. There is compelling evidence, from both cross-sectional and intervention studies, of an association of increased student performance with increased ventilation rates. There is evidence that reduced respiratory health effects and reduced student absence are associated with increased ventilation rates. Increasing ventilation rates in schools imposes energy costs and can increase heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning system capital costs. The net annual costs, ranging from a few dollars to about 10 dollars per person, are less than 0.1% of typical public spending on elementary and secondary education in the United States. Such expenditures seem like a small price to pay given the evidence of health and performance benefits.

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