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Natural Ventilation: A Sustainable Solution to Infection Control in Healthcare Settings?

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Create Date November 8, 2018
Last Updated December 18, 2018
Describes some of the key issues in the use of natural ventilation to control infection in healthcare settings.


Natural ventilation can address ventilation needs while avoiding many of the economic and environmental costs of mechanical ventilation. Concepts of natural ventilation are well-known and can be used as the basis for design and operation of healthcare facilities with special appeal in resource-poor contexts. However, natural ventilation for infection control in healthcare facilities requires rather high outdoor air change rates due to the greater dilution needs as the airflow direction is less controlled. Challenges are presented and discussed that must be addressed when relying on natural ventilation to control airborne infectious disease transmission with special reference to health care facilities. This paper highlight these issues and provide an overview to inform those who wish to rely on natural ventilation to control airborne infectious disease transmission, especially in healthcare facilities. Much remains to be done to improve the performance of buildings relying on natural ventilation to protect occupants' health.