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Ventilation is the intentional introduction of outside air into a space. Ventilation is mainly used to control indoor air quality by diluting and displacing indoor pollutants; it can also be used for purposes of thermal comfort or dehumidification when the introduction of outside air will help to achieve desired indoor psychrometric conditions.
The intentional introduction of outside air can be categorized as either mechanical ventilation, or natural ventilation. Mechanical ventilation uses fans to drive the flow of outside air into a building. This may be accomplished by pressurization (in the case of positively pressurized buildings), or by depressurization (in the case of exhaust ventilation systems). Many mechanically ventilated buildings use a combination of both, with the ventilation being integrated into the HVAC system. Natural ventilation is the intentional passive flow of outside air into a building through planned openings (such as louvers, doors, and windows). Natural ventilation does not require mechanical systems to move outside air, it relies entirely on passive physical phenomena, such as diffusion, wind pressure, or the stack effect. Mixed mode ventilation systems use both mechanical and natural processes. The mechanical and natural components may be used in conjunction with each other or separately at different times of day or season of the year. Since the natural component can be affected by unpredictable environmental conditions it may not always provide an appropriate amount of ventilation. In this case, mechanical systems may be used to supplement or to regulate the naturally driven flow.
Outdoor air can also enter a building by infiltration - the uncontrolled flow of air from outdoors to indoors through leaks (unplanned openings) in a building envelope. In buildings that make no intentional design for mechanical or natural ventilation, circumstantial infiltration has been referred to as adventitious ventilation. In exhaust ventilated buildings, the intended flow of outside air may enter through planned inlets, but it will also enter through unplanned leaks in the building envelope. Generally, all outside air that crosses the building envelope through leaks is referred to as infiltration, whether it is driven by mechanical systems or natural mechanisms like wind.
In many instances, ventilation for indoor air quality is simultaneously beneficial for the control of thermal comfort. At these times, it can be useful to increase the rate of ventilation beyond the minimum required for indoor air quality. Two examples include air-side economizer strategies and ventilation pre-cooling. In other instances, ventilation for indoor air quality contributes to the need for - and energy use by - mechanical heating and cooling equipment. It hot and humid climates dehumidification of ventilation air can be a particularly energy intensive process.
In many scenarios, heat recovery ventilation can reduce energy use for heating and cooling by facilitating sensible heat exchange between exhaust air and incoming ventilation air. Energy recovery ventilation transfers moisture in addition to sensible heat. However, heat recovery can increase the fan power required for ventilation, and may increase energy use for heating and cooling for periods when ventilation would be beneficial for the control of indoor thermal comfort.
The design of buildings that promote occupant health and well being requires clear understanding of the ways that ventilation airflow interacts with, dilutes, displaces or introduces pollutants within the occupied space. Although ventilation is an integral component to maintaining good indoor air quality, it may not be satisfactory alone. In scenarios where outdoor pollution would deteriorate indoor air quality, other treatment devices such as filtration may also be necessary. In kitchen ventilation systems, or for laboratory fume hoods, the design of effective effluent capture can be more important than the bulk amount of ventilation in a space. More generally, the way that an air distribution system causes ventilation to flow into and out of a space impacts the ability for a particular ventilation rate to remove internally generated pollutants. The ability for a system to remove pollution is described as its "ventilation effectiveness". However, the overall impacts of ventilation on indoor air quality can depend on more complex factors such as the sources of pollution, and the ways that activities and airflow interact to affect occupant exposure.
Ventilation should not be confused with air motion induced by ceiling fans or other devices. Air motion influences thermal comfort, it can decrease thermal stratification, and it may cause pollutant dilution by way of mixing, but it does not introduce outside air and therefore does not classify as ventilation.
Ventilation should be considered for its relationship to "venting" for appliances and combustion equipment such as water heaters, furnaces, boilers, and wood stoves. Most importantly, the design of building ventilation must be careful to avoid the backdraft of combustion products from "naturally vented" appliances into the occupied space. This issue is of greater importance in new buildings with more air tight envelopes. To avoid the hazard, many modern combustion appliances utilize "direct venting" which draws combustion air directly from outdoors, instead of from the indoor environment.
- 1 Categories of ventilation
- 2 Ventilation rate standards
- 3 Natural ventilation strategies
- 4 Mechanical ventilation strategies
- 5 Ventilation and combustion
- 6 Smoking and ventilation
- 7 History
- 8 Problems
- 9 See also
- 10 External links
- 11 References and notes
Categories of ventilation
- Mechanical ventilation refers to any system that uses mechanical means, such as a fan, to introduce outside air to a space. This includes positive pressure ventilation, exhaust ventilation, and balanced systems that use both supply and exhaust ventilation.
- Natural ventilation refers to intentionally designed passive methods of introducing outside to a space without the use of mechanical systems.
- Mixed mode ventilation (or hybrid ventilation) systems use both natural and mechanical processes.
- Infiltration is the uncontrolled flow of air from outdoors to indoors through leaks (unplanned openings) in a building envelope. When a building design relies on environmentally driven circumstantial infiltration to maintain indoor air quality, this flow has been referred to as adventitious ventilation.
Ventilation rate standards
The ventilation rate, for CII buildings, is normally expressed by the volumetric flowrate of outside air being introduced to the building. The typical units used are cubic feet per minute (CFM) or liters per second (L/s). The ventilation rate can also be expressed on a per person or per unit floor area basis, such as CFM/p or CFM/ft², or as air changes per hour (ACH).
Standards for residential buildings
For residential buildings, which mostly rely on infiltration for meeting their ventilation needs, a common ventilation rate measure is the air change rate (or air changes per hour): the hourly ventilation rate divided by the volume of the space (I or ACH; units of 1/h). During the winter, ACH may range from 0.50 to 0.41 in a tightly insulated house to 1.11 to 1.47 in a loosely insulated house.
ASHRAE now recommends ventilation rates dependent upon floor area, as a revision to the 62-2001 standard, in which the minimum ACH was 0.35, but no less than 15 CFM/person (7.1 L/s/person). As of 2003, the standard has been changed to 3 CFM/100 sq. ft. (15 l/s/100 sq. m.) plus 7.5 CFM/person (3.5 L/s/person). 
Standards for commercial buildings
Ventilation rate procedure
Ventilation Rate Procedure is rate based on standard and prescribes the rate at which ventilation air must be delivered to a space and various means to condition that air. Air quality is assessed (through CO2 measurement) and ventilation rates are mathematically derived using constants. Indoor Air Quality Procedure uses one or more guidelines for the specification of acceptable concentrations of certain contaminants in indoor air but does not prescribe ventilation rates or air treatment methods. This addresses both quantitative and subjective evaluations, and is based on the Ventilation Rate Procedure. It also accounts for potential contaminants that may have no measured limits, or for which no limits are not set (such as formaldehyde offgassing from carpet and furniture).
History and development of ventilation rate standards
- In 1973, in response to the 1973 oil crisis and conservation concerns, ASHRAE Standards 62-73 and 62-81) reduced required ventilation from 10 CFM (4.76 L/S) per person to 5 CFM (2.37 L/S) per person. This was found to be a primary cause of sick building syndrome.
- The 1989 ASHRAE standard (Standard 62-89) states that appropriate ventilation guidelines are 20 CFM (9.2 L/s) per person in an office building, and 15 CFM (7.1 L/s) per person for schools, while the 2004 Standard 62.1-2004 has lower recommendations again (see tables below).
In certain applications, such as submarines, pressurized aircraft, and spacecraft, ventilation air is also needed to provide oxygen, and to dilute carbon dioxide for survival. Batteries in submarines also discharge hydrogen gas, which must also be ventilated for health and safety. In any pressurized, regulated environment, ventilation is necessary to control any fires that may occur, as the flames may be deprived of oxygen.
ANSI/ASHRAE (Standard 62-89) speculated that "comfort (odor) criteria are likely to be satisfied if the ventilation rate is set so that 1,000 ppm CO2 is not exceeded" while OSHA has set a limit of 5000 ppm over 8 hours.
Ventilation guidelines are based upon the minimum ventilation rate required to maintain acceptable levels of bioeffluents. Carbon dioxide is used as a reference point, as it is the gas of highest emission at a relatively constant value of 0.005 L/s. The mass balance equation is:
Q = G/(Ci − Ca)
- Q = ventilation rate (L/s)
- G = CO2 generation rate
- Ci = acceptable indoor CO2 concentration
- Ca = ambient CO2 concentration
Ventilating a space with fresh air aims to avoid "bad air". The study of what constitutes bad air dates back to the 1600s, when the scientist Mayow studied asphyxia of animals in confined bottles. The poisonous component of air was later identified as carbon dioxide (CO2), by Lavoisier in the very late 1700s, starting a debate as to the nature of "bad air" which humans perceive to be stuffy or unpleasant. Early hypotheses included excess concentrations of CO2 and oxygen depletion. However, by the late 1800s, scientists thought biological contamination, not oxygen or CO2, as the primary component of unacceptable indoor air. However, it was noted as early as 1872 that CO2 concentration closely correlates to perceived air quality.
The first estimate of minimum ventilation rates was developed by Tredgold in 1836. This was followed by subsequent studies on the topic by Billings  in 1886 and Flugge in 1905. The recommendations of Billings and Flugge were incorporated into numerous building codes from 1900-1920s, and published as an industry standard by ASHVE (the predecessor to ASHRAE) in 1914.
Study continued into the varied effects of thermal comfort, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and biological contaminants. Research was conducted with humans subjects controlled test chambers. Two studies, published between 1909 and 1911, showed that carbon dioxide was not the offending component. Subjects remained satisfied in chambers with high levels of CO2, so long as the chamber remained cool. (Subsequently, it has been determined that CO2 is, in fact, harmful at concentrations over 50,000ppm )
ASHVE began a robust research effort in 1919. By 1935, ASHVE funded research conducted by Lemberg, Brandt, and Morse - again using human subjects in test chambers - suggested the primary component of "bad air" was odor, perceived by the human olfactory nerves. Human response to odor was found to be logarithmic to contaminant concentrations, and related to temperature. At lower, more comfortable temperatures, lower ventilation rates were satisfactory. A 1936 human test chamber study by Yaglou, Riley, and Coggins culminated much of this effort, considering odor, room volume, occupant age, cooling equipment effects, and recirculated air implications, which provided guidance for ventilation rates. The Yaglou research has been validated, and adopted into industry standards, beginning with the ASA code in 1946. From this research base, ASHRAE (having replaced ASHVE) developed space by space recommendations, and published them as ASHRAE Standard 62-1975: Ventilation for acceptable indoor air quality.
As more architecture incorporated mechanical ventilation, the cost of outdoor air ventilation came under some scrutiny. In cold, warm, humid, or dusty climates, it is preferable to minimize ventilation with outdoor air to conserve energy, cost, or filtration. This critique (e.g. Tiller ) led ASHRAE to reduce outdoor ventilation rates in 1981, particularly in non-smoking areas. However subsequent research by Fanger, W. Cain, and Janssen validated the Yaglou model.
|Author or Source||Year||Ventilation Rate (IP)||Ventilation Rate (SI)||Basis or rationale|
|Tredgold||1836||4 CFM per person||2 L/s per person||Basic metabolic needs, breathing rate, and candle burning|
|Billings||1895||30 CFM per person||15 L/s per person||Indoor air hygiene, preventing spread of disease|
|Flugge||1905||30 CFM per person||15 L/s per person||Excessive temperature or unpleasant odor|
|ASHVE||1914||30 CFM per person||15 L/s per person||Based on Billings, Flugge and contemporaries|
|Early US Codes||1925||30 CFM per person||15 L/s per person||Same as above|
|Yaglou||1936||15 CFM per person||7.5 L/s per person||Odor control, outdoor air as a fraction of total air|
|ASA||1946||15 CFM per person||7.5 L/s per person||Based on Yahlou and contemporaries|
|ASHRAE||1975||15 CFM per person||7.5 L/s per person||Same as above|
|ASHRAE||1981||10 CFM per person||5 L/s per person||For non-smoking areas, reduced.|
|ASHRAE||1989||15 CFM per person||7.5 L/s per person||Based on Fanger, W. Cain, and Janssen|
ASHRAE continues to publish space-by-space ventilation rate recommendations, which are decided by a consensus committee of industry experts. The modern descendants of ASHRAE standard 62-1975 are ASHRAE Standard 62.1, for non-residential spaces, and ASHRAE 62.2 for residences.
In 2004, the calculation method was revised to include both an occupant-based contamination component and an area–based contamination component. These two components are additive, to arrive at an overall ventilation rate. The change was made to recognize that densely populated areas were sometimes overventilated (leading to higher energy and cost) using a per-person methodology.
Occupant Based Ventilation Rates, ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2004
|IP Units||SI Units||Category||Examples|
|0 cfm/person||0 L/s/person||Spaces where ventilation requirements are primarily associated with building elements, not occupants.||Storage Rooms, Warehouses|
|5 cfm/person||2.5 L/s/person||Spaces occupied by adults, engaged in low levels of activity||Office space|
|7.5 cfm/person||3.5 L/s/person||Spaces where occupants are engaged in higher levels of activity, but not strenuous, or activities generating more contaminants||Retail spaces, lobbies|
|10 cfm/person||5 L/s/person||Spaces where occupants are engaged in more strenuous activity, but not exercise, or activities generating more contaminants||Classrooms, school settings|
|20 cfm/person||10 L/s/person||Spaces where occupants are engaged in exercise, or activities generating many contaminants||dance floors, exercise rooms|
Area-based ventilation rates, ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2004
|IP Units||SI Units||Category||Examples|
|0.06 cfm/ft2||0.30 L/s/m2||Spaces where space contamination is normal, or similar to an office environment||Conference rooms, lobbies|
|0.12 cfm/ft2||0.60 L/s/m2||Spaces where space contamination is significantly higher than an office environment||Classrooms, museums|
|0.18 cfm/ft2||0.90 L/s/m2||Spaces where space contamination is even higher than the previous category||Laboratories, art classrooms|
|0.30 cfm/ft2||1.5 L/s/m2||Specific spaces in sports or entertainment where contaminants are released||Sports, entertainment|
|0.48 cfm/ft2||2.4 L/s/m2||Reserved for indoor swimming areas, where chemical concentrations are high||Indoor swimming areas|
The addition of occupant- and area-based ventilation rates found in the tables above often results in significantly reduced rates compared to the former standard. This is compensated in other sections of the standard which require that this minimum amount of air is actually delivered to the breathing zone of the individual occupant at all times. The total outdoor air intake of the ventilation system (in multiple-zone variable air volume (VAV) systems) might therefore be similar to the airflow required by the 1989 standard.
From 1999 to 2010, there was considerable development of the application protocol for ventilation rates. These advancements address occupant- and process-based ventilation rates, room ventilation effectiveness, and system ventilation effectiveness 
Natural ventilation strategies
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Techniques and architectural features used to ventilate buildings and structures naturally include, but are not limited to:
- Operable windows
- Pressurised air pumps
- Night purge ventilation
- Clerestory windows and vented skylights
- Building orientation
- Wind capture façades
Natural ventilation harnesses naturally available forces to supply and remove air in an enclosed space. There are three types of natural ventilation occurring in buildings: wind driven ventilation, pressure-driven flows, and stack ventilation. The pressures generated by 'the stack effect' rely upon the buoyancy of heated or rising air. Wind driven ventilation relies upon the force of the prevailing wind to pull and push air through the enclosed space as well as through breaches in the building’s envelope. Seoul University Professor Wonjun Kwon recently discovered a new way to ventilate large area of indoor space. The so-called "air pump" system uses pressure between inside and out side of rooms to push air out of a structure. (see Infiltration (HVAC)).
Almost all historic buildings were ventilated naturally. The technique was generally abandoned in larger US buildings during the late 20th century as the use of air conditioning became more widespread. However, with the advent of advanced Building Energy Modeling (BEM) software, improved Building Automation Systems (BAS), Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) design requirements, and improved window manufacturing techniques; natural ventilation has made a resurgence in commercial buildings both globally and throughout the US.
The benefits of natural ventilation include:
- Improved Indoor air quality (IAQ)
- Energy savings
- Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions
- Occupant control
- Reduction in occupant illness associated with Sick Building Syndrome
- Increased worker productivity
Mechanical ventilation strategies
Mechanical ventilation of buildings and structures can be achieved by use of the following techniques:
- Whole-house ventilation
- Mixing ventilation
- Displacement ventilation
- Dedicated outside air supply
Demand-controlled ventilation (DCV)
Demand-controlled ventilation (DCV, also known as Demand Control Ventilation) makes it possible to maintain air quality while conserving energy. ASHRAE has determined that: "It is consistent with the ventilation rate procedure that demand control be permitted for use to reduce the total outdoor air supply during periods of less occupancy." In a DCV system, CO2 sensors control the amount of ventilation. During peak occupancy, CO2 levels rise, and the system adjusts to deliver the same amount of outdoor air as would be used by the ventilation-rate procedure. However, when spaces are less occupied, CO2 levels reduce, and the system reduces ventilation to conserves energy. DCV is a well-established practice, and is required in high occupancy spaces by building energy standards such as ASHRAE 90.1.
Personalized ventilation is an air distribution strategy that allows individuals to control the amount of ventilation received. The approach deliver fresh air more directly to the breathing zone and aims to improve air quality of inhaled air. Personalized ventilation provides a much higher ventilation effectiveness than conventional mixing ventilation systems by displacing pollution from the breathing zone far less air volume. Beyond improved air quality benefits, the strategy can also improve occupant's thermal comfort, perceived air quality, and overall satisfaction with the indoor environment. Individual's preferences for temperature and air movement are not equal, and so traditional approaches to homogeneous environmental control have failed to achieve high occupant satisfaction. Techniques such as personalized ventilation facilitate control of a more diverse thermal environment that can improve thermal satisfaction for most occupants.
Local exhaust ventilation
Local exhaust ventilation addresses the issue of avoiding the contamination of indoor air by specific high-emission sources by capturing airborne contaminants before they are spread into the environment. This can include water vapor control, lavatory bioeffluent control, solvent vapors from industrial processes, and dust from wood- and metal-working machinery. Air can be exhausted through pressurized hoods or through the use of fans and pressurizing a specific area.
A local exhaust system is composed of 5 basic parts
- A hood that captures the contaminant at its source
- Ducts for transporting the air
- An air-cleaning device that removes/minimizes the contaminant
- A fan that moves the air through the system
- An exhaust stack through which the contaminated air is discharged
In the UK, the use of LEV systems have regulations set out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which are referred to as the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (CoSHH). Under CoSHH, legislation is set out to protect users of LEV systems by ensuring that all equipment is tested at least every fourteen months to ensure the LEV systems are performing adequately. All parts of the system must be visually inspected and thoroughly tested and where any parts are found to be defective the inspector must issue a red label to identify the defective part and the issue.
The owner of the LEV system must then have the defective parts repaired or replaced before the system can be used.
Ventilation and combustion
Combustion (e.g., fireplace, gas heater, candle, oil lamp, etc.) consumes oxygen while producing carbon dioxide and other unhealthy gases and smoke, requiring ventilation air. An open chimney promotes infiltration (i.e. natural ventilation) because of the negative pressure change induced by the buoyant, warmer air leaving through the chimney. The warm air is typically replaced by heavier, cold air.
Ventilation in a structure is also needed for removing water vapor produced by respiration, burning, and cooking, and for removing odors. If water vapor is permitted to accumulate, it may damage the structure, insulation, or finishes. When operating, an air conditioner usually removes excess moisture from the air. A dehumidifier may also be appropriate for removing airborne moisture.
Smoking and ventilation
ASHRAE standard 62 states that air removed from an area with environmental tobacco smoke shall not be recirculated into ETS-free air. A space with ETS requires more ventilation to achieve similar perceived air quality to that of a non-smoking environment.
The amount of ventilation in an ETS area is equal to the amount of ETS-free area plus the amount V, where:
V = DSD × VA × A/60E
- V = recommended extra flow rate in CFM (L/s)
- DSD = design smoking density (estimated number of cigarettes smoked per hour per unit area)
- VA = volume of ventilation air per cigarette for the room being designed (ft3/cig)
- E = contaminant removal effectiveness
The development of forced ventilation was spurred by the common belief in the late 18th and early 19th century in the miasma theory of disease, where stagnant 'airs' were thought to spread illness. An early method of ventilation was the use of a ventilating fire near an air vent which would forcibly cause the air in the building to circulate. English engineer John Theophilus Desaguliers provided an early example of this, when he installed ventilating fires in the air tubes on the roof of the House of Commons. Starting with the Covent Garden Theatre, gas burning chandeliers on the ceiling were often specially designed to perform a ventilating role.
A more sophisticated system involving the use of mechanical equipment to circulate the air was developed in the mid 19th century. A basic system of bellows was put in place to ventilate Newgate Prison and outlying buildings, by the engineer Stephen Hales in the mid-18th century. The problem with these early devices was that they required constant human labour to operate. David Boswell Reid was called to testify before a Parliamentary committee on proposed architectural designs for the new House of Commons, after the old one burned down in a fire in 1834. In January 1840 Reid was appointed by the committee for the House of Lords dealing with the construction of the replacement for the Houses of Parliament. The post was in the capacity of ventilation engineer, in effect; and with its creation there began a long series of quarrels between Reid and Charles Barry, the architect.
He advocated the installation of a very advanced ventilation system in the new House. His design had air being drawn into an underground chamber, where it would undergo either heating or cooling. It would then ascend into the chamber through thousands of small holes drilled into the floor, and would be extracted through the ceiling by a special ventilation fire within a great stack.
Reid's reputation was made by his work in Westminster. He was commissioned for an air quality survey in 1837 by the Leeds and Selby Railway in their tunnel. The steam vessels built for the Niger expedition of 1841 were fitted with ventilation systems based on Reid's Westminster model. Air was dried, filtered and passed over charcoal. Reid's ventilation method was also applied more fully to St. George's Hall, Liverpool, where the architect, Harvey Lonsdale Elmes, requested that Reid should be involved in ventilation design. Reid considered this the only building in which his system was completely carried out.
With the advent of practical steam power, fans could finally be used for ventilation. Reid installed four steam powered fans in the ceiling of St George's Hospital in Liverpool, so that the pressure produced by the fans would force the incoming air upward and through vents in the ceiling. Reid's pioneering work provides the basis for ventilation systems to this day. He was remembered as "Dr. Reid the ventilator" in the twenty-first century in discussions of energy efficiency, by Lord Wade of Chorlton.
- In hot, humid climates, unconditioned ventilation air will deliver approximately one pound of water each day for each cfm of outdoor air per day, annual average. This is a great deal of moisture, and it can create serious indoor moisture and mold problems.
- Ventilation efficiency is determined by design and layout, and is dependent upon placement and proximity of diffusers and return air outlets. If they are located closely together, supply air may mix with stale air, decreasing efficiency of the HVAC system, and creating air quality problems.
- System imbalances occur when components of the HVAC system are improperly adjusted or installed, and can create pressure differences (too much circulating air creating a draft or too little circulating air creating stagnancy).
- Cross-contamination occurs when pressure differences arise, forcing potentially contaminated air from one zone to an uncontaminated zone. This often involves undesired odors or VOCs.
- Re-entry of exhaust air occurs when exhaust outlets and fresh air intakes are either too close, or prevailing winds change exhaust patterns, or by infiltration between intake and exhaust air flows.
- Entrainment of contaminated outside air through intake flows will result in indoor air contamination. There are a variety of contaminated air sources, ranging from industrial effluent to VOCs put off by nearby construction work.
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- Architectural engineering
- Environmental tobacco smoke
- Mechanical engineering
- Sick building syndrome
- Solar chimney
- Fume hood
- Biological safety
- Dilution ventilation
- Room air distribution
- Heat recovery ventilation
- Publications from the Air Infiltration & Ventilation Centre (AIVC): http://www.aivc.org/resources/publications
- Publications from the International Energy Agency (IEA) Energy in Buildings and Communities Programme (EBC) ventilation related research projects-annexes:
- EBC Annex 9 Minimum Ventilation Rates
- EBC Annex 18 Demand Controlled Ventilation Systems
- EBC Annex 26 Energy Efficient Ventilation of Large Enclosures
- EBC Annex 27 Evalutation and Demonstration of Domestic Ventilation Systems
- EBC Annex 35 Control Strategies for Hybrid Ventilation in New and Retrofitted Office Buildings (HYBVENT)
- EBC Annex 62 Ventilative Cooling
References and notes
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