Sick building syndrome in relation to air exchange rate, CO2, room temperature and relative air humidity in university computer classrooms: an experimental study

Abstract

Objective

To study the effects of ventilation and temperature changes in computer classrooms on symptoms in students.

Methods

Technical university students participated in a blinded study. Two classrooms had higher air exchange (4.1–5.2 ac/h); two others had lower (2.3–2.6 ac/h) air exchange. After 1 week, ventilation conditions were interchanged between the rooms. The students reported symptoms during the last hour, on a seven-step rating scale. Room temperature, relative air humidity (RH) carbon dioxide (CO2), PM10 and ultra-fine particles (UFP) were measured simultaneously (1 h). Illumination, air velocity, operative temperature, supply air temperature, formaldehyde, NO2 and O3 were measured. Multiple logistic regression was applied in cross-sectional analysis of the first answer (N = 355). Those participating twice (N = 121) were analysed longitudinally.

Results

Totally 31% were females, 2.9% smokers and 3.8% had asthma. Mean CO2 was 993 ppm (674–1,450 ppm), temperature 22.7°C (20–25°C) and RH 24% (19–35%). Lower and higher air exchange rates corresponded to a personal outdoor airflow of 7 l/s*p and 10–13 L/s*P, respectively. Mean PM10 was 20 μg/m3 at lower and 15 μg/m3 at higher ventilation flow. Ocular, nasal and throat symptoms, breathlessness, headache and tiredness were significantly more common at higher CO2 and temperature. After mutual adjustment, ocular (OR = 1.52 per 1°C), nasal (OR = 1.62 per 1°C) and throat symptoms (OR = 1.53 per 1°C), headache (OR = 1.51 per 1°C) and tiredness (OR = 1.54 per 1°C) were significantly associated with temperature; headache was associated only with CO2 (OR = 1.19 per 100 ppm CO2). Longitudinal analysis demonstrated that increased room temperature was related to tiredness (P < 0.05).

Conclusion

Computer classrooms may have CO2 above 1,000 ppm and temperatures above 22°C. Increased temperature and CO2 may affect mucosal membrane symptoms, headaches and tiredness. Room temperature was most important. CO2 associations may partly be temperature effects.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Apter A, Bracker A, Hodgson M, Sidman J, Leung WY (1994) Epidemiology of the sick building syndrome. J Allergy Clin Immunol 94:277–288

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. ASHRAE. (1999) Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality, Standard 62-1999, Atlanta, GA, American Society for Heating, Refrigerating and Air conditioning Engineers

  3. Bakke JV, Moen BE, Wieslander G, Norbäck D (2007) Gender and the physical and psychosocial work environments are related to indoor air symptoms. J Occup Environ Med 49:641–650

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Bako-Biro Z, Wargocki P, Weschler CJ, Fanger PO (2004) Effects of pollution from personal computers on perceived air quality, SBS symptoms and productivity in offices. Indoor Air 14:178–187

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Branis M, Rezacova P, Domasova M (2005) The effect of outdoor air and indoor human activity on mass concentrations of PM(10), PM(2.5) and PM(1) in a classroom. Environ Res 99:143–149

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Daisey JM, Angell WJ, Apte MG (2003) Indoor air quality, ventilation and health symptoms in schools: an analysis of existing information. Indoor Air 13:53–64

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Ferm M, Svanberg P-A (1998) Cost-efficient techniques for urban- and background measurements of SO2 and NO2. Atmos Environ 32:1377–1381

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Ferm M (2001) Validation of a diffusive sampler for ozone in workplace atmospheres according to EN838. In: Proceedings of international conference measuring air pollutants by diffusive sampling, Montpellier, France, 26–28 September 2001, pp 298–303

  9. Godish T, Spengler JD (1996) Relationships between ventilation and indoor air quality: a review. Indoor Air 6:135–145

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Hodgson M (1995) The sick-building syndrome. Occupational Medicine: State Art Rev 10:167–175

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Kamijima M, Shibata E, Sakai K, Ohno H, Ishihara S, Yamada T, Takeuchi Y, Nakajima T (2005) Indoor air pollution due to 2-ethyl-1-hexanol airborne concentrations, emission sources and subjective symptoms in classroom users. Nippon Koshu Eisei Zasshi 52:1021–1031 (in Japanese with English abstract)

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Lindgren T, Norbäck D, Andersson K (2006) Perception of the cockpit environment among pilots on commercial aircraft. Aviat Space Environ Med 77:832–837

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Levin J-O, Lindahl R, Andersson K (1988) High performance liquid chromatographic determination of formaldehyde in indoor air in the ppb to ppm range using diffusive sampling and hydrazone formation. Environ Technol Lett 9:1423–1430

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. National Swedish Board of Occupational Safety, Health (2000) The design of the workplace AFS 2000;42 (in Swedish)

  15. Neuner R, Seidel HJ (2006) Adaptation of office workers to a new building-impaired well-being as part of the sick-building-syndrome. Int J Hyg Environ Health 209:367–375

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. Norbäck D, Lindgren T, Wieslander G (2006) Changes of ocular and nasal signs and symptoms in air crew, related to air humidification on intercontinental flights. Scand J Work Environ Health 32:138–144

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  17. Norbäck D, Wieslander G, Nordström K, Wålinder R, Venge P (2000) The effect of air humidification on symptoms and nasal patency, tear film stability, and biomarkers in nasal lavage. A six week longitudinal study. Indoor Built Environ 9:28–34

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Nordström K, Norbäck D, Akselsson R (1994) The effect of humidification on the Sick Building Syndrome and perceived indoor air quality in hospitals. A four months longitudinal study. Occup Environ Med 51:683–688

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. Palmgren U, Ström G, Blomqvist G, Malmberg P (1986) Collection of airborne micro-organisms on Nucleopore filters, estimation and analysis-CAMNEA method. J Appl Bacteriol 61:401–406

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  20. Reinikainen LM, Jaakkola JJK, Heinonen OP (1991) The effect of air humidification on different symptoms in office workers—an epidemiological study. Environ Int 17:243–250

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Reinikainen LM, Jaakola JJK, Seppänen O (1992) The effect of air humidification on symptoms and perception of indoor air quality in office workers: A 6-period cross-over trial. Arch Environ Health 47:8–15

    PubMed  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Reinikainen LM, Jaakkola JJK (2001) Effects of temperature and humidification in the office environment. Arch Environ Health 56:365–368

    PubMed  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Righi E, Aggazzotti G, Fantuzzi G, Ciccarese V, Predieri G (2002) Air quality and well-being perception in subjects attending university libraries in Modena (Italy). Sci Total Environ 286:41–50

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  24. Seppänen OA, Fisk WJ (2004) Summary of human responses to ventilation. Indoor Air 14(Suppl 7):102–118

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Simoni M, Annesi-Maesano I, Sigsgaard T, Norback D, Wieslander G, Nystad W, Canciani M, Viegi G, Sestini P (2006) Relationships between school indoor environment and respiratory health in children of five European Countries (HESE study). Proceedings from 16th ERS Annual Congress. Eur Respir J 28(suppl 50):837

    Google Scholar 

  26. Smedje G, Norbäck D (2000) New ventilation systems at selected schools in Sweden—Effects on asthma and exposure. Arch Environ Health 55:18–25

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  27. Stenberg B, Wall S (1995) Why do women report “sick building symptoms” more often than men? Soc Sci Med 40:491–502

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  28. Wargocki P, Sundell J, Bischof W, Brundrett G, Fanger PO, Gyntelberg F, Hanssen SO, Harrison P, Pickering A, Seppänen O, Wouters P (2002) Ventilation and health in non-industrial indoor environments: report from a European multidisciplinary scientific consensus meeting (EUROVENT). Indoor Air 2:113–128

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. World Health Organization (WHO) Regional office for Europe. Air quality guidelines for Europe. WHO Regional Publications, European Series No 23, Copenhagen, 1987

  30. World Health Organization (WHO) WHO air quality guidelines global update 2005. WHO; Geneva, 2005 (http://www.who.int/bookorders)

  31. Wyon D (1992) Sick buildings and the experimental approach. Environ Technol 3:313–322

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Yura A, Iki M, Shimizu T (2005) Indoor air pollution in newly built or renovated elementary schools and its effect on health in children. Nippon Koshu Eisei Zhasshi 52:715–726 (in Japanese with English abstract)

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

This study was partly supported by grants from the Swedish Council for Worklife Research and the Swedish Foundation for Health Care Sciences and Allergy Research.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dan Norbäck.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Norbäck, D., Nordström, K. Sick building syndrome in relation to air exchange rate, CO2, room temperature and relative air humidity in university computer classrooms: an experimental study. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 82, 21–30 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00420-008-0301-9

Download citation

Keywords

  • Indoor air quality
  • Ventilation
  • Room temperature
  • Sick building syndrome (SBS)
  • University students