Human dwellings such as houses, and workplaces directly influenced our health. And one of the major factors to this end is the quality of indoor air where we stay or live.
Aside from pollutants, one of the least things that people fail to consider and monitor in dealing with indoor air quality is humidity, which is something that people usually neglect. Unknown to many, humidity is one of critical elements makes a place ideal for the production and multiplication of bacteria and other germ that cause diseases.
What is Humidity?
Humidity pertains to the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere. Water vapor is basically water in gaseous state which like any other gases in unseen by the naked eye. So how exactly makes water perilous to health when it is in fact the source of life? As a source of life, water or moisture is what other dangerous little creatures need to survive and thrive. And the little creatures included bacteria, fungi, molds, dust mites and germs that cause different diseases to humans.
Moreover, excessive moisture in your home is also destructive to your house. It not only causes wood to expand but also invites termites and other pests to your home. Termites in particular can quite literally destroy your home by literally eating wooden structures that compromise the structural integrity of an edifice. Moreover, moisture can also cause rust and oxidation of steel, which also affects that strength of a structure.
While too much moisture is bad, the lack of moisture in the air is also bad. Low humidity which is dry air can in turn encourage the spread of infection. Because of this, it is important to balance the amount of water vapor in the air. Ideally, humidity levels of indoor air should now fall below 30% and should not go over 60%.
Impact of humidity to People
When the atmosphere has high moisture content which is often describe as humid weather, this is easily sensed by our bodies which feel sweltering and steamy. Because there is water vapor in the air, our sweat does not evaporate while the moisture in the air becomes liquid when it touches our body with lower temperature. Our natural cooling system works doubly hard causing too much sweating or respiration, accelerated heart rate and faster blood circulation, which basically translates to discomfort and uneasiness.
As have mentioned earlier, high moisture content or humid indoor air is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and molds to grow and reproduce. This little creature trigger asthma in which people will have difficulty breathing. Asthma is an inflammatory condition and the best way of treating it is to correctly identify what causes it. Molds in the form or powder pollen and dust can cause breathing difficulties to people who are allergic to it. This even becomes complicated because of the presence of bacteria such as pneumococcus and staphylococcus to an asthmatic person.
Meanwhile, low moisture in the air or dry air would be able to stop molds and bacteria but will equally cause problems because the atmosphere becomes ideal for the transmission of airborne diseases such as influenza and other viruses. This is because in dry atmospheres, more infectious droplets able to remain airborne far longer and therefore travel to other people, which are in turn easily inhaled because people’s nasal passages are also dry and becomes more vulnerable for the entry of such diseases.
Causes of humidity indoors
Because humidity essentially pertains to water in the air, everything that can potentially be a source of water vapor inside the house is what causes high humidity indoors. This included ordinary water, tap water, water in the floor and walls, wet clothes, faucet leaks, watered plants and even human bodies. And the higher the temperature, the higher amount of water that indoor air can hold. Because of this, the temperature inside a room is essentially what causes water to evaporate. What increases humidity indoors however is when water vapor in the room is when water vapor is trapped indoors such as when the house or room lacks windows or ventilation, which could otherwise exit points where water vapor can escape.
How to measure humidity?
There are practical ways to determine the relative humidity inside a house or a building. One obvious way is by simply staying in the place. If you start to feel hot and sticky, then there is high humidity in the place. Another way is by checking your windows if there are fogging or if the glasses seemed perspiring inside. Finally, the best way for you to monitor humidity at home is by the use of digital hygrometer, which incidentally is widely available in the market. This device measures both temperature and relative humidity (RH). And ideal atmospheric humidity should be between 40–50%.
How to Reduce or Combat Humidity?
Ventilation. Installing windows in rooms in one of the basic ways to regulate humidity in the indoors because it provides outlet for water vapor to escape while allowing breeze and air flow in the room. Ventilation prevents the accumulation of water vapor to be trapped inside a room.
Electric Fan. Fans help to create an artificial force that facilitate air circulation in a room especially in the damp spaces like the bathroom and the basement.
Exhaust. An exhaust is essentially a fan that sucks up indoor air and pushes them outside. This is ideally placed in the kitchen and bathrooms to dissipate steam, heat, fumes, stench and water vapor.
Air conditioning. An air-conditioning system is one of the most cost effective ways to condition your air. As a cooling system, it works essentially by changing the temperature of the room thereby conditioning the air inside. Most air-conditioning units also have filters which are meant to sieve dust and other microbes that circulate in the air thereby providing comfort and fresh air for the people inside the room.
Humidifier and Dehumidifier. As its name implies, these appliances are meant to provide moisture or remove moisture in the air in order to maintain balance of air humidity in the room atmosphere.
Indoor Plants. Plants give off water which is ideal for dry air. More importantly, plants also absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen which human need to breathe to survive. Placing plants is one practically way to help make indoor air fresh and clean.