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Building Ventilation

An outdoor building ventilation unit on a rooftop  Ventilation dust

Building ventilation is the circulation of air throughout a building. The ventilation or the heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system of a building supplies and removes air either naturally (windows) and/or mechanically to and from a space. HVAC systems consist of mechanical parts which should provide air to building occupants at a comfortable temperature and humidity that is free of harmful concentrations of air pollutants. Building ventilation is one important factor affecting the relationship between airborne transmission of respiratory infections and the health and productivity of workers.

Why is the operation and maintenance of HVAC systems important?

Improper operation and maintenance of HVAC systems is one of the most common problems that impact workplace indoor environmental quality (IEQ). HVAC systems include all of the equipment used to ventilate, heat, and cool the building; to move the air around the building (ductwork); and to filter and clean the air. These systems can have a significant impact on how pollutants are distributed and removed. Maintaining good IEQ requires constant attention to the building's HVAC system, which includes the design, layout and pollutant source management or air filtration.

There are a variety of pollutants and sources of pollutants in a building such as:

  • carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide
  • tobacco smoke
  • molds and bacteria
  • cleaning products
  • copy machines and printers
  • pesticides
  • vehicle exhaust