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Ventilation for Human Health and Safety in Schools and Offices

If you need an evaluation of the ventilation in your school or office including concerns for COVID-19 re-occupancy discussed in this article, call us at 973-366-4660 or e-mail us at info@atlenv.com for details and a free estimate.

Written By:  Robert E. Sheriff, MS, CIH, CSP, President
September 2, 2020; Updated September 2021

Ventilation for Human Health and Safety in Schools and Offices

Providing indoor air quality to meet the safety requirements of the occupants is a daunting task—at best.

Ventilation to supply both outside air and re-circulated air at a rate that the majority of occupants of a classroom, gymnasium, office, sports arena, or any other occupied space, would find safe and comfortable has been undertaken by professional groups such as ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers) and the CDC particularly when it comes to Covid-19.

Air-change rates for various types of buildings and occupancy can be found in the 2015 ASHRAE Handbook, “HVAC Applications.”  This document provides guidance on the amount of air movement—both outside air and re-circulated air—that is intended to achieve good—and safe—air quality for the occupants.

Another ASHRAE publication that addresses the need a certain amount of outside air to achieve reasonable air quality is ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2016 titled: “Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality.”  This document provides information on the amount of recommended outside air per person and air volume rates per unit area of floor space.

ASHRAE Guidance for COVID-19

ASHRAE has also developed detailed guidance on occupancy or re-occupancy of facilities to address COVID-19 concerns.

This can be found at www.ashrae.org\technical-resources\building-readiness#uvgi.  It is pretty extensive and will require the involvement of numerous individuals to determine if your systems are operating as efficiently as possible and/or can be expanded to meet concerns over COVID-19.

The most significant position of ASHRAE and Atlantic Environmental, Inc. is to use the maximum amount of outdoor air that the system will allow while maintaining the comfort of the occupant (i.e., the ability of the system to adequately heat/cool the increased outside air).

Temperature for Human Comfort

The recommended comfort range according to ASHRAE is 67°F to 82°F but a more specific range depends upon relative humidity and other factors.  Our company recommends that the temperature range is kept between 68°F and 74°F.

Relative Humidity for Human Comfort

The relative humidity is also a very important factor in maintaining acceptable air quality.  The recommended range is 30% relative humidity to 60% relative humidity.  Below 30% may cause dry skin, dry and burning eyes, static electricity, and upper respiratory irritation.  Above 60% may encourage mold growth.

ASHRAE lists about 80 different occupancy categories where a minimum ventilation rate has been established.  The following are some examples from the ASHRAE Standard 62.1:




Occupancy Minimum Outdoor Air Rate


Occupancy Density

(per 1000 ft2)

Classrooms 10 25
Lecture Hall 7.5 150
Computer Lab 10 25
Restaurant Dining Room 7.5 70
Kitchen (Cooking) 7.5 14
Hotel Bedroom/Living Room 5 10
Office Space 5 5
Telephone/Data Entry 5 60
Bank Lobbies 7.5 15
Pharmacy (Prep Area) 5 10
Shipping/Receiving 10 2
Religious Worship 5 120
Courtrooms 5 70
Beauty and Nail Salons 20 25
Gymnasiums (Play Area) 20 7
Gambling Casinos 7.5 120


CDC Guidance on Ventilation in Schools-Discussions of additional steps recommended by the CDC for schools can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/schools.html

This reference covers many conditions for opening schools but includes ventilation.  These primary recommendations are to follow ASHRAE guidance.

For more information on Ventilation for Human Health and Safety in offices and schools, contact Atlantic Environmental.

Our primary service areas for Ventilation Testing are: New Jersey NJNew York NY, (New York City)Pennsylvania PAConnecticut CTDelaware DEMassachusetts, (Boston) MARhode Island RIWashington DCWisconsin WIMaryland MDMichigan MIIllinois (Chicago) ILVirginia VAIndiana INGeorgia (Atlanta) GAAlabama ALNorth Carolina NCSouth Carolina SCTennessee TNTexas (Dallas, Ft Worth) TXOklahoma OKDCArkansas AR, Florida FL. We can service most other areas of the U.S. but additional travel charges will be applied. 

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