4 Ventilation Quotes That Will Rock Your IAQ World

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perforated buckskin underclothing ventilation iaq quotes

I've been writing some articles on ventilation for the Journal of Light Construction lately and have come across some great material. The first quote here makes the point about indoor air quality with a graphic underwear metaphor. It's from an 1893 book whose author was a medical doctor interested in ventilation to prevent diseases like phthisis (what we now call tuberculosis).

Most civilized men and women are unwilling to put on underclothing that has just been taken off by another person or to put into their mouths articles of food or drink that have recently been in other peoples mouths but they take without hesitation into their lungs air that has just come from other people's mouths and lungs or from close contact with their soiled clothing or bodies.

~ John Shaw Billings, Ventilation and Heating, 1893

The second is from a great article called The History of Ventilation and Temperature Control (pdf) that appeared in the ASHRAE Journal in 1999. The author was discussing some of the mid-twentieth century research on odor and ventilation rates by Harvard scientist C.P. Yaglou. If you're worried about the water-energy connection, you'll be happy to know that:

Only a 33% increase in ventilation was required for adults a week after a bath.

~ John Janssen, in The History of Ventilation and Temperature Control, ASHRAE Journal, 1999

Naturally, ventilation cannot solve all IAQ problems. Sometimes source control is the best method.

If there is a pile of manure in a space, do not try to remove the odor by ventilation.
Remove the pile of manure.

~Max von Pettenkofer, 1858

And finally, no list of ventilation quotes is complete without one that illustrates the immense power of fresh air.

There is nothing like the cure of fresh air for cases of bladder infection, paranoia, and Cartesian thinking.

~ Rawi Hage

What quotes about ventilation and indoor air quality do you have?


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Image of underclothing by Arallyn! from flickr.com, used under a Creative Commons license.


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Kevin Dickson

Joe Lstiburek's advice: "Dilution is not the solution to the indoor pollution." 

Darrel Tenter

"Why do we have to make ventilation calculations so freaking complicated?" 
— Darrel Tenter

Stephen Davis

"There is no subject directly connected with life on which there is so large an amount of popular ignorance as ventilation." from "The Architecture of Country Houses" by Andrew Jackson Downing - 1859.


Nice Allison. 
I had to look up Cartesian thinking. Not sure I agree with Rawi that it's to be avoided: 
"Cartesianism is the name given to the philosophical doctrine (or school) of René Descartes. Descartes is often regarded as the first thinker to emphasize the use of reason to develop the natural sciences.[1] For him the philosophy was a thinking system that embodied all knowledge, and expressed it in this way:[2] 
Cartesians view the mind as being wholly separate from the corporeal body. Sensation and the perception of reality are thought to be the source of untruth and illusions, with the only reliable truths to be had in the existence of a metaphysical mind. Such a mind can perhaps interact with a physical body, but it does not exist in the body, nor even in the same physical plane as the body."

Dale Sherman

"Those who think ventilation standards can be simply applied to non-standard housing stock are suffering from a lack of ventilation." 
- Dale Sherman

David Eakin

Looks like the consensus of your sources is to wear high-performance clothing layers (like merino wool underwear - best natural high-performance fabric available today) even in Summer - and live in a highly-ventilated structure (w/o much regard to conservation of heat). Assist the body's ability to regulate core temperatures at a micro/skin level versus a room/house level. Interestingly, this is the same recommendation of most current outdoor sports participants (hiking/camping/bicyclists/motorcyclists).

Richard Beyer

I think this one is more fitting with today's building age. "If there is a pile of manure in a space, do not try to remove the odor by ventilation. 
Remove the pile of manure." 
~Max von Pettenkofer, 1858

Paul Raymer

"Air is like crooked rivers, crooked people, teenagers, and cheap labor. It always seeks the path of least resistance." John Tooley 
"One cfm in equals one cfm out."