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Indoor Air. 2004;14 Suppl 7:74-81.

Impact of indoor air temperature and humidity in an office on perceived air quality, SBS symptoms and performance.

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  • 1International Centre for Indoor Environment and Energy, Technical University of Denmark.


Perceived air quality (PAQ), sick building syndrome (SBS) symptoms and performance of office work were studied in a real office space at three levels of air temperature and humidity and two levels of ventilation rate (20 degrees C/40%, 23 degrees C/50%, 26 degrees C/60% RH at 10 l s(-1) p(-1) outside air, and 20 degrees C/40% RH at 3.5 l s(-1) p(-1) outside air). Thirty female subjects participated in the experiment. They were exposed to each environmental condition for 280 min. Thermal comfort was maintained at different thermal environments by self-adjustment of clothing. The subjects performed simulated office work throughout each exposure and repeatedly marked a set of visual-analog scales to indicate their perception of environmental conditions and of the intensity of SBS symptoms at the time. The study confirmed the previously observed impact of temperature and humidity on perceived air quality and the linear correlation between acceptability and enthalpy. The impact on perceived air quality of decreasing the ventilation rate from 10 to 3.5 l s(-1) per person could be counteracted by a decrement of temperature and humidity from 23 degrees C/50% RH to 20 degrees C/40% RH. Performance of office work was not significantly affected by indoor air temperature and humidity. However, several SBS symptoms were alleviated when the subjects worked at low levels of air temperature and humidity, which implies that a longer term exposure to low indoor air temperature and humidity might help to improve the performance of office work.


The findings of this study indicate the importance of indoor air temperature and humidity on perceived air quality and SBS symptoms. In practice, the required ventilation rate for comfort and health should no longer be independent of indoor air temperature and humidity.

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