Health V

Project Funders: University of Illinois at Chicago (subgrant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development)

Project Contact: David Jacobs,

Project Description: This project studied two different ventilation standards established by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) that are commonly used in weatherization and other housing repair programs. One standard was set in 1989 (but still widely used) and the other in 2010. The 1989 standard typically does not require mechanical ventilation, but the new one usually does. The average air flow rate was nearly twice as high in the ASHRAE 62.2-2010 group (79 vs. 39 cubic feet per minute). For the ASHRAE 62.2-2010 group formaldehyde, VOCs, and CO2 were all significantly reduced and first-floor radon was marginally lower, but for the 62-1989 group, only formaldehyde decreased. Humidity in the ASHRAE 62.2-2010 group was nearly twice as low as the ASHRAE 62-1989 group using the moisture balance metric, which can indicate a mold problem. Radon was higher in the basement but lower on the first floor. Children in each group had fewer headaches, eczema, and skin allergies after weatherization, and adults had improvements in psychological distress.

Conclusion: Indoor air quality and health improve when weatherization is accompanied by an ASHRAE residential ventilation standard, and the 2010 ASHRAE standard has greater improvements in certain outcomes compared to the 1989 standard. Children in each group had fewer headaches, eczema, and skin allergies after weatherization; adults saw improvements in psychological distress. Weatherization, home repair and energy conservation projects should use the newer ASHRAE standard to improve indoor air quality and health.