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Am J Infect Control. 2011 Dec;39(10):866-72. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2011.02.014. Epub 2011 Jun 12.

Room ventilation and the risk of airborne infection transmission in 3 health care settings within a large teaching hospital.

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International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia.



Room ventilation is a key determinant of airborne disease transmission. Despite this, ventilation guidelines in hospitals are not founded on robust scientific evidence related to the prevention of airborne transmission.


We sought to assess the effect of ventilation rates on influenza, tuberculosis, and rhinovirus infection risk within 3 distinct rooms in a major urban hospital: a lung function laboratory, an emergency department negative-pressure isolation room, and an outpatient consultation room. Air-exchange rate measurements were performed in each room using CO2 as a tracer. The model developed by Gammaitoni and Nucci was used to estimate infection risk.


Current outdoor air-exchange rates in the lung function laboratory and emergency department isolation room limited infection risks to 0.1%-3.6%. Influenza risk for individuals entering an outpatient consultation room after an infectious individual departed ranged from 3.6% to 20.7%, depending on the duration for which each person occupied the room.


Given the absence of definitive ventilation guidelines for hospitals, air-exchange measurements combined with modeling afford a useful means of assessing, on a case-by-case basis, the suitability of room ventilation for preventing airborne disease transmission.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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