Assessing Indoor Air Quality and Ventilation to Limit Aerosol Dispersion—Literature Review

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The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of indoor air quality (IAQ) and ventilation, which researchers have been warning about for years. During the pandemic, researchers studied several indicators using different approaches to assess IAQ and diverse ventilation systems in indoor spaces. To provide an overview of these indicators and approaches in the case of airborne transmission through aerosols, we conducted a literature review, which covered studies both from before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. We searched online databases for six concepts: aerosol dispersion, ventilation, air quality, schools or offices, indicators, and assessment approaches. The indicators found in the literature can be divided into three categories: dose-, building-, and occupant-related indicators. These indicators can be measured in real physical spaces, in a controlled laboratory, or modeled and analyzed using numerical approaches. Rather than organizing this paper according to these approaches, the assessment methods used are grouped according to the following themes they cover: aerosol dispersion, ventilation, infection risk, design parameters, and human behavior. The first finding of the review is that dose-related indicators are the predominant indicators used in the selected studies, whereas building- and occupant-related indicators are only used in specific studies. Moreover, for a better understanding of airborne transmission, there is a need for a more holistic definition of IAQ indicators. The second finding is that although different design assessment tools and setups are presented in the literature, an optimization tool for a room’s design parameters seems to be missing. Finally, to efficiently limit aerosol dispersion in indoor spaces, better coordination between different fields is needed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number742
Number of pages27
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • indoor air quality
  • aerosol dispersion
  • ventilation
  • numerical modeling
  • computational fluid dynamics
  • experimental measurements

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