What Are The Effects Of Low Humidity Levels On Your Indoor Air Quality And Health?
Winter is beautiful on the outside, but it can be incredibly dry from the inside. And not in a good way!
Although you don’t necessarily want to track snow into your homes to bring moisture back into your air, if you’ve ever experienced the effects of low humidity, this might have been something that crossed your mind. And we wouldn’t blame you!
Dry air, void of all moisture, can be extremely damaging to your skin, lungs and overall health.
Negative Health Effects of Low Indoor Air Humidity:
- Sore Throat
- Vulnerability to Infection/Viral Transmission
- Skin Irritation
- Inflamed Dermatitis
- Allergy Symptoms
- Chapped Lips
- Poor Sleep
But, before we dive into these negative health concerns, and how to prevent them, let’s talk about humidity, humidity control and indoor air quality.
Humidity, Humidity Control & Indoor Air Quality - How Do They Relate?
Humidity is simply a measurement of water vapour within the air. Although humidity is a naturally occurring and rather crucial part of the earth’s atmosphere, the levels of humidity do continue to fluctuate from season to season.
When temperatures are high in the summer months, the air around us is actually able to hold more water vapour - thus having higher humidity levels.
During the winter months, when the air is much colder, humidity levels drastically decline - especially in northern Ontario areas - like Sudbury!
Relative humidity calculates the level of humidity in the air RELATIVE to temperature.
The average relative humidity in Sudbury, Ontario, from January to February, is 93%! This means that the air’s temperature is too cold to hold much water. In this case, the actual humidity level is quite low, since there is almost 0 humidity present in the air at all.
It’s important to measure your indoor humidity and know what the different levels mean. Why? Because different humidity levels mean different things, and can affect your health, and that of your family’s, in a variety of different ways. It can even damage your home itself!
If your air is too dry, your home becomes uncomfortable to live in, and rather harmful to your health.
What Happens If Your Humidity Levels Are Too High?
If your air is too moist, your home can experience mold or a general dampness. This can actually bring about severe water damage over time, if not properly controlled.
It can also cause you and your family to become dehydrated over time, causing muscle cramps, headaches, an increased heart rate etc.
Your goal? To keep your home’s humidity levels controlled - a relative humidity level between 30-60%!
Indoor Air Quality
Both weather and your daily habits can hugely affect the humidity levels within your home, which in turn affects your indoor air quality.
We already mentioned how colder temperatures and warmer temperatures take their effect on humidity levels, but what about your everyday habits?
Indoor Tasks That Affect Humidity:
- Laundry etc.
All of these daily activities increase the moisture (ie. humidity) in your air.
5 Health Concerns Associated With Low Indoor Humidity
1. Sore Throat
One of the first signs of low indoor humidity is a sore throat. When there is very little moisture in the air you are breathing in, it can very easily dry out your throat - leaving it quite sore!
Practical Ways Of Helping Preventing This Symptom:
- Take cold showers.
- Drink lots of water.
- Take throat lozenges.
2. Vulnerability to Infection/Viral Transmission
When your home has low humidity levels, the membranes that normally protect your body against airborne pathogens become less effective. Meaning it becomes much more difficult for your body to filter out harmful particles.
This can result in your body’s immune system becoming vulnerable to infection and/or viral transmission .
One practical way of helping prevent this health concern is to purchase a mist humidifier - filling it with distilled water (not tap water).
3. Skin Irritation, Eczema, Inflamed Dermatitis and Chapped Lips
Since dry air essentially absorbs the moisture on your body, skin irritation is quite a common symptom - causing dry skin, brittle hair, eczema, heat rash etc.
How To Help Prevent These Symptoms:
- Apply moisturizing creams (or lip balms).
- Run a fan while you shower.
- Boil water (this puts steam moisture back into your air).
4. Asthma Attacks
Humidity alone is not the only factor in causing an asthma attack. Humidity can actually increase the levels of dust mites, mold and ground-level ozone in your home, while also trapping harmful pollutants (ie. smoke).
How To Help Prevent This Symptom:
- Run a fan while you shower.
- Ensure that your home is properly insulated.
5. Poor Sleep
Humidity levels that are too high or too low can drastically affect your sleep as well.
In terms of low humidity, you may experience a dry throat, a dry nose, sore air passageways, dehydration or general discomfort/irritation surrounding all of these symptoms.
How To Help Prevent This Symptom:
The Easy Solution To Helping Prevent Low Indoor Humidity Levels Entirely
Although you could go out and purchase individual humidifiers for each and every room of your home, that could become quite inconvenient, not to mention expensive and tiresome. Imagine going to each room of your home and having to fill each and every humidifier with water every single day - not the most ideal solution.
The easiest solution that Campeau Heating would recommend in preventing low indoor humidity levels is a Whole Home Humidifier.
This piece of HVAC equipment inputs moisture into your air according to the level you set it at - so you never have to worry about your air being too dry or even too damp.
PLUS: If you live in northern Ontario, where the winters are as dry as can be, a Whole Home Humidifier can actually lower your winter utility bills over time!
Contact Campeau Heating in Sudbury, Ontario, For All Your Indoor Air Quality Needs This Winter
At Campeau Heating, you and your family’s health and safety is always top of mind. If you’re beginning to experience one or more of the above symptoms, we highly encourage you to have your humidity levels checked. And if you’ve been feeling them for a while, you might want to schedule an indoor air quality test as well.
This winter, protect yourself, your family and your home!
Contact our team at (705) 560-2441 to learn more about our indoor air quality products and services.