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Friday, 22 January 2021 19:12

How Humidity Levels Affect Viruses In the Air

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In the dry Colorado mountain environment maintaining the right humidity level in the home is important for comfort and health. Dry, itchy skin, static shock and upper respiratory irritation are just of the discomforts that low humidity levels can cause during the winter months when humidity can reach desert-dry levels. A recent Mayo Clinic study* found that by increasing a room’s humidity, the flu virus' ability to stay airborne and survive on surfaces was reduced.  The study also found that the virus' ability to infect people, as compared to non-humidified rooms was reduced. Other research has also shown that low absolute humidity results in a greater chance of flu infection.

How Humidity Reduces the Spread of Viruses

The Mayo Clinic study was applied to a classroom full of children. It found that by increasing a classroom’s humidity, they could limit the flu’s ability to survive on surfaces and its ability to infect people, as compared to non-humidified rooms. The researches think that as humidity increases, the viral droplet size becomes larger, settling out of the air rapidly and reducing the likelihood of airborne transmission. The same theory applies to other contaminants in the air, such as dust mites, pet dander and bacteria, which will all linger longer in dry air.

So what is the ideal humidity level? 30-50% relative humidity is a good target for most homes during Colorado's dry winter months. The best way to increase humidity in the home is to use a whole-home humidifier that is connected to the home's ventilation system. The humidity level can then be set at the thermostat to find the right balance of heat and relative humidity to maintain comfort and reduce the airborne contamination.
Read 357 times Last modified on Monday, 29 March 2021 15:19
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