To test whether the incidence of common colds among college students in China is associated with ventilation rates and crowdedness in dormitories.
In Phase I of the study, a cross-sectional study, 3712 students living in 1569 dorm rooms in 13 buildings responded to a questionnaire about incidence and duration of common colds in the previous 12 months. In Phase II, air temperature, relative humidity and CO 2 concentration were measured for 24 hours in 238 dorm rooms in 13 buildings, during both summer and winter. Out-to indoor air flow rates at night were calculated based on measured CO 2 concentrations.
In Phase I, 10% of college students reported an incidence of more than 6 common colds in the previous 12 months, and 15% reported that each infection usually lasted for more than 2 weeks. Students in 6-person dorm rooms were about 2 times as likely to have an incidence of common colds ≥6 times per year and a duration ≥2 weeks, compared to students in 3-person rooms. In Phase II, 90% of the measured dorm rooms had an out-to indoor air flow rate less than the Chinese standard of 8.3 L/s per person during the heating season. There was a dose-response relationship between out-to indoor air flow rate per person in dorm rooms and the proportion of occupants with annual common cold infections ≥6 times. A mean ventilation rate of 5 L/(s•person) in dorm buildings was associated with 5% of self reported common cold ≥6 times, compared to 35% at 1 L/(s•person).