October 22, 2019
Health benefits of the right humidity level for indoor environments
When we talk about humidity control, we always do it through the eye of productivity. But the humidity – or dryness – of the air we breathe has a significant impact on different health factors. Could humidity control, and its various applications, have a say in tomorrow’s measures to improve living conditions and well being of all individuals?
Let’s dig inside the health benefits of indoor humidity.
Our societies developed a greater interest in the quality of indoor air. Indeed, we spend a lot of our time indoors, at home, at work, in the transports. Households, offices, industrial plants should have a studied and optimized air to avoid any health hazard (some of them listed in this article.) Studies have found that humidity levels between 40% and 60% are optimal for indoor environments for multiples reasons that we are going to see now.
Health issues caused by lousy humidity levels :
Life needs water to operate correctly: our body contains 60% of water. This figure makes sense when we know an adult should be drinking at least 1,5L of water every day, but drinking is not the only water intake. Our environment has a certain level of humidity, called Relative Humidity (RH), and living beings have various ways to gather the precious liquid.
There are two sorts of issues that can come from a lousy humidity level:
- If the air is too dry (about less than 30% Relative Humidity).
- If it is too wet (above 70% Relative Humidity).
Dryness issues :
Firstly, when the environment is too dry, some functions of our body starts going sideways :
- Respiratory problems such as asthma or other allergies, as shown in this study.
- Eye irritation.
- Throat and nose dryness.
- Mucous membrane affection: increases the risk of a viral infection such as influenza or rhinitis and bronchial constriction.
High humidity issues :
On the other hand, when the air carries a lot of water, the humidity levels go through the roof. Especially in warm environments, other dangers might appear. A very humid air slows down the cooling process through evaporation and can lead to :
- Increased risk of stroke
- Feeling of discomfort
Health benefits of finding the right humidity for your workplace or home
Humidity control has a long list of technical applications because it is an excellent answer to specific requirements in a lot of industries ( Electronics, Automotive, Agricultural). However, it has very positive side effects that were not initially expected. After an extensive study of the beneficial effects of humidity control on health, it found new applications solely based on enhancing comfort and the working environment.
Control of Viral Infections
Most major airborne viruses have disappeared through vaccination campaigns, but some remain, like influenza. According to the World Health Organization, up to 500 000 people die from the flu every year.
This study shows that viruses, like influenza and measles, lose survivability and infectivity as soon as relative humidity exceeds 40%, up to 70% relative humidity. Relative humidity below 30% is a dangerous environment because it is a perfect set-up to develop and transmit viruses.
Other Health Benefits :
Besides protection from viruses, a relative humidity maintained between 40% and 70% has various other positive effects :
- It significantly reduces the likelihood to contract a respiratory infection.
- It limits the development of allergens, mainly caused by mites and fungi.
- Relative humidity above 40% disables airborne chemicals that cause irritation and diseases.
From a business point of view, all these factors are a financial loss. Indeed, if your employees suffer from those conditions, they are going to miss workdays or loose efficiency.
Besides, well being of their employees is a significant concern for most companies. Creating a healthy working environment is beneficial for everyone and should be a focus for industries and work offices.
The humidity rate in the air is not something you can easily control. Like other meteorological factors, you might feel unable to act about it. However, when winter comes, the indoor relative humidity drops. If you are looking to a humidification control system, or already have one installed, you can profit from the multiple health benefits it provides.
If you are looking at possible applications, we have experience in several different industries. Don’t hesitate to contact us!
Léo CHAMBRETTE – IKEUCHI EUROPE B.V.