Surprising Effects of Humidity on the Human Body
The process of accumulating humidity in one’s body can lead to a wide array of health and wellness effects. Depending on whether the relative humidity (RH) in an environment is too low, high, or balanced (between 40% to 60% RH), we encounter different conditions and symptoms of poor or adequate humidity control. From airborne infection control to electrostatic discharge prevention, there are many ways humidification plays a role in protecting us. Here are some of the most common effects in particular, many of which may prove to be surprising.
Overheating and/or Increased Perspiration
Despite the fact that humidity doesn’t actually affect the temperature in an environment, it can still convince our bodies that temperatures are higher than they really are. This is due to the fact that moisture remains on our skin in circumstances when the relative humidity (RH) levels are higher, causing it to not dissipate nearly as easily. Our bodies then cause us to perspire even more in an attempt to naturally combat this sensation. The result is us feeling warmer – sometimes to the point of overheating, which can result in serious health issues such as heat stroke and exhaustion.
Asthma and Allergy Symptoms
If the humidity in an environment declines to substandard levels, our nasal passages become drier. This can, in fact, worsen allergy symptoms and make those with allergies highly susceptible to feeling discomfort, irritation, and even developing sinus infections. On the flip side, high humidity encourages the development of mold, mildew, dust mites, and other allergens that can equally negatively impact our wellness and health. The air can become more difficult to breathe as well, which can result in the increased risk of an asthma attack and triggers for sufferers of the condition. Maintaining proper humidity control can protect against developing such issues by ensuring our nasal passages possess sufficient moisture, which acts as a barrier of sorts against allergic and asthmatic symptom and trigger encouragement.
Discomfort and Skin/Eye Irritation
Drier conditions with low humidity can cause us to develop a range of problems due to our inability to absorb and retain sufficient moisture. The direct result of this is skin irritation, cracked lips, rashes, flaking, roughness, and eye irritation, the latter of which can develop into serious infections if not treated or rectified in time with proper, clean moisturization. Proper humidity control, set at 40% to 60% RH, can assist in minimizing these ill effects and protect our skin, hair, and eyes.
Reduced Mental Stimulation/Focus
When relative humidity (RH) levels are imbalanced, it can put exponentially more strain on our bodies, requiring them to work harder to function as they normally would. This means our minds are required to work harder, and as a result, it can occasionally prove to be more difficult to focus and remain mentally invested from in poorly humidified conditions. This is why educational facilities, hospitals, and offices require proper humidity control in addition to protecting inhabitants from health issues.
Susceptibility to Electrostatic Discharge (ESD)
When humidity levels are lower, conductive surfaces retain more static electricity. As a direct result, we can become the recipients of surges when interacting with surfaces harboring pent-up energy. Proper humidity control can reduce the amount of static electricity retained, often eliminating the risk of instances of electrostatic discharge (ESD). Typically, maintaining 40% to 60% RH is sufficient to reduce the risk of ESD potentialities. Electrostatic discharge prevention goes a long way in protecting people, property, and productivity.
Airborne Infection Potentialities
When an environment’s conditions feature overly low or high humidification, it can cause airborne bacteria and particles to more easily reach us. This can result in a greater risk of developing lung infections and illnesses such as influenza, as we can more actively absorb bacteria in poorly humidified conditions. With proper humidity control, the amount of time these particles and bacteria can spend airborne is drastically reduced, causing them to fall and settle more quickly. Therefore, their reach is reduced, and it is relatively easier to control the spread of infection. Airborne infection control is important in environments where chemicals, particles, and/or bacteria are introduced to the airstream, such as hospitals, paint spray booths, sanding decks, and elementary schools.
Our bodies are easily susceptible to even the slightest atmospheric change in an environment, along with the risks and direct effects caused by imbalanced relative humidity (RH) levels. We can develop a range of infections, skin irritation issues, health and wellness issues, reduced mental stimulation (and therefore productivity), and a host of other problems including reduced protection against electrostatic discharges. This is why maintaining consistently balanced humidification is essential to maintaining our health, wellness, productivity, efficiency, and our ability to be the very best we can be. With proper airborne infection control, electrostatic discharge prevention, and air moisture regulation, we can lead more comfortable and healthier lives. To learn more about Condair’s range of specialized humidification systems, complete with a wide range of load capacities and special configurations such as adiabatic systems, be sure to consult our Best Humidifier Guide.