The Role of Humidity in Indoor Air Quality
COVID-19 has narrowed the focus on improving overall indoor air quality in all commercially used spaces. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA), indoor air quality is defined as “how inside air can affect a person’s health, comfort, and ability to work.”
Indoor air quality is determined by many HVAC-related factors, with humidity being a leading factor of all HVAC contributors to poor air quality.
Maintaining optimal humidity in a conditioned space creates a more comfortable environment for guests and employees. But the role of humidity goes beyond just making people feel comfortable. New studies are showing that humidity may be a key factor in the spread of COVID-19, as low humidity produces smaller aerosols that can suspend in the air for longer and increase exposure to the virus.
Humidity and COVID-19
Amid COVID-19, several technologies have emerged that have been found to potentially slow the spread of the virus when paired with commercial HVAC systems. Humidity control is at the top of the list. Staying within range of recommended humidity values and levels can play a key role in minimizing the growth and spread of airborne pathogens, including the virus that causes COVID-19.
While low humidity can increase the spread, high indoor humidity can be a catalyst for mold and mildew growth. It can also facilitate healthy growing environments for bacteria and viruses, which can cause respiratory diseases and infections.
So, what is the ideal humidity level? According to the American Society for Microbiology, an indoor relative humidity between 40% and 60% may help to defend against the virus that causes COVID-19 by limiting the spread and survival of the virus. It may also boost the body’s ability to filter out the virus by keeping mucus membranes hydrated and improving immune system functions.
Your CoolSys technician can educate you on using a humidifier within the HVAC system and/or dehumidifying the air with a re-heat process or other technique to help achieve and maintain the proper humidity for positive indoor air quality.
Read more best practice guidelines on humidity control and other emerging technologies in “Creating Safer and Healthier Indoor Air Quality.”