Why Your Health is Affected by Low Humidity

Why Your Health is Affected by Low HumidityLow humidity inside a home is considered by the EPA to be a level below 35%. Insufficient humidity is more common in winter as cold air doesn’t contain water vapor as efficiently as warm air. Lower winter temperatures also mean less water converts into the vapor stage in the overall outdoor climate versus hot summer weather.

Another factor affecting low indoor humidity during winter is gas-fired, forced-air heating, which tends to dry out water vapor. While humidity below normal levels causes simple discomfort like scratchy skin, it can also affect health in more meaningful ways.

How Humidity Affects Your Health

  • Science has now proven that drier air extends the lifespan of common airborne viruses like cold and flu. A virus particle that survives longer in the air is more likely to be transmitted to another person and spread illness. Low humidity indoors is one reason colds and flu are more easier to catch in winter—not simply because temperatures are colder, as was long believed.
  • Mucous membranes in the nose and throat function as important interceptors of airborne viruses and bacteria that may be inhaled. In conditions of insufficient humidity, however, these membranes tend to dry out and become less effective at capturing airborne pathogens. Inhaled viruses and bacteria are therefore more likely to infect throat and lungs and cause illness.

How To Boost Indoor Humidity

Room humidifiers can increase humidity in limited enclosed spaces but generally aren’t powerful enough to help improve conditions throughout the entire house. They also require daily maintenance to keep the tank filled with water and cleaning, as well.

A whole-house humidifier installed directly into your HVAC system humidifies the entire air volume in the home as it passes through the ductwork continuously. The unit is plumbed directly to a household water line and doesn’t require daily refilling. The desired relative humidity can be set at a digital humidistat located in the living spaces and the system will maintain that level 24/7, without further attention.

For more about ways to counteract low humidity for a healthier home environment, contact Paitson Bros. We’ve served Terre Haute and surrounding communities since 1922.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Terre Haute, Indiana about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about home comfort and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 812-645-6859. 

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