How Whole Home Humidifiers can Reduce Bacteria and Viruses
Humidifiers play an important role in reducing the survival of the flu virus on both surfaces and in the air. A humidifier will help to provide relief from coughs and congestion while reducing the number of germs on surfaces and in the air. Keeping the relative humidity in your home at about 35%-50% is recommended. Relative humidity measures the amount of moisture content in the air as a percentage of the total amount of moisture air is capable of holding. Relative humidity is strongly influenced by temperature; the warmer the air, the more water vapor it can hold, while colder air cannot hold as much water vapor. A 10% change in relative humidity is roughly the equivalent to a one degree Fahrenheit change in temperature. Dust mites, the leading cause of allergies, thrive in as little as 50% relative humidity.
Pneumococcus, staphylococcus, and streptococcus bacteria die up to 20 times faster at relative humidity between 45% and 55%, than above 70% or below 20%. Higher levels increase the spread of mold, bacteria and viruses. Allergens like molds thrive in relative humidity conditions above 60%, leading to a variety of aliments including asthma, allergies and respiratory infections. Basically, viruses survive in dry air. That is one reason why the cold and flu season is in winter. Your mouth and nose tend to be drier which helps the virus. Flu viruses spread better in dry air than in humid air so it is wise to keep the humidity slightly higher in your home, especially amidst dry winter air. Whole-house humidifiers replenish the humidity in the air in a safe, water vapor form and can also help lower your risk of infection by bacteria and viruses.
Unfortunately, in the cold winter your heating system is mostly to blame for the low humidity levels in your home, because the warm, dry air soaks up the moisture in the air. The result of this dry air can leave you with dry skin, blocked sinuses and other unpleasant health problems. A humidifier can combat these problems by keeping your homes relative humidity at the appropriate levels. Maintaining the right amount of moisture in your home can help ease congestion and soothe sore throats, which helps you breathe better and sleep more comfortably. When a cold strikes, running a humidifier can help relieve congestion.
Humidifiers are especially important for children since their smaller nostrils get stuffed up more easily and over-the-counter medicine is not always appropriate. Recent studies suggest that they can also help reduce the number of germs on surfaces and in the air in addition to the soothing nasal passages from the moisture they provide. In general, a properly run humidifier, with relative humidity kept at the appropriate levels, will greatly reduce the presence of bacteria and viruses in your homes air while providing healthier air to breathe.