What about humidity? – Indoor Air Quality

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Humidity can have a positive effect on human health and well being but it’s still oftentimes overlooked when indoor air environments are being planned. When humidity is too dry it often causes a dry throat and lips whilst also making it easier for viruses to spread, and when it’s too humid it causes other diseases to both the building and the human body. We will in this article therefore demonstrate why we need to have humidity in mind when we plan our indoor air environment. 

 

There are clear regulations on carbon dioxide and thermal comfort in the majority of the first world countries. But there is a third dimension that is often overlooked – relative humidity (RH). Many people question if this is because humidity is less important but the majority of scientists claim the opposite – that it has a major effect on our health, well being and performance. 

 

The humidity levels need to be regulated 

When the relative humidity level is too low we get dry eyes, skin and slips and certain science even shows how viruses spread more easily when the humidity level sinks. On the other hand, when the humidity level is too high it causes other microorganisms that in return causes other diseases. High humidity also causes problems with mold which isn’t only dangerous for the house but also for the people who live there. With other words – we need to regulate the humidity levels so that it doesn’t affect either the building or people inside negatively. 

 

Problems with high humidity in hot and humid countries

In hot and humid countries we experience that the humidity reaches high proportions under certain periods of the year and this obviously affects our indoor air environment in major ways. A certain problem that this brings is the growing of mold and mildew in our buildings which in return causes everything from minor to major health issues for people inside of the building. This is a very common problem and it affects buildings and people all over the world, but especially in hot and humid cities such as Athens and Bangkok. 

 

Why do we ignore humidity? 

We have for a long time known that humidity can have a positive affect on our health, well being and performance. To breath in humid air and water vapor has been a popular self-care treatment and has also been used by hospitals in case of certain breathing diseases. So the question is: Why do we ignore this knowledge when we’re planning our indoor air environments? 

The answer to this question is that our striving to avoid sick building syndrome has led us to have a negative view of humidity. To avoid mold and sick building syndrome we’ve prioritized high circulation of air, but done so without any regulation on humidity to act as a balancer to that notion. The result of this being that humidity levels have been uncontrolled and therefore affected both our human health and the health of the building negatively. 

 

Humidity can be a asset 

We use heat recovery in ventilation systems to save thermal energy. In addition, control systems automatically start and stop recycling depending on whether we want to retain the thermal energy in the building or get rid of it. What would happen to our indoor comfort if we treated humidity as an asset and not just as a problem and recovered it and treated it the same way we do with thermal energy?

 

It’s time to re-evaluate humidity 

Too dry or humid air affects our health, wellbeing and performance negatively and is a problem that we need to attend to more to create better indoor air environments for everyone. We must look at the actual consequences of too humid or dry air and make the correct adjustments moving forward to protect both our health and our buildings health. It’s time to understand and re-evaluate humidity to properly aid us in creating the perfect indoor air environment.