Airborne transmission of infectious agents and associations of indoor air pollutants with respiratory illnesses are well documented. We hypothesized that energy conservation measures that tighten buildings also increase risks of respiratory infection among building occupants. At four Army training centers during a 47-month period, incidence rates of febrile acute respiratory disease were compared between basic trainees in modern (energy-efficient design and construction) and old barracks. Rates of febrile acute respiratory disease were significantly higher among trainees in modern barracks (adjusted relative risk estimate, 1.51; 95% confidence interval, 1.46 to 1.56), and relative risks were consistent at the four centers. These results support the hypothesis that tight buildings with closed ventilation systems significantly increase risks of respiratory-transmitted infection among congregated, immunologically susceptible occupants.
Brundage JF, Scott RM, Lednar WM, Smith DW, Miller RN. Building-Associated Risk of Febrile Acute Respiratory Diseases in Army Trainees. JAMA. 1988;259(14):2108–2112. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03720140028029
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