Is a dirty humidifier dangerous? In spite of its benefits, your dirty humidifier may pose some serious danger. Since this appliance uses water vapor, this can be a breeding ground for mold and bacteria.
In fact, authorities state that impeller and ultrasonic humidifiers can possibly release toxic mist. They also warn that a dirty humidifier can cause some flu-like symptoms as well as a lung infection. People who have asthma or allergies may also experience worse symptoms.
While proper maintenance is necessary for all humidifiers, there are certain types that could pose more dangers than others. In this article, you will learn more about the common types of humidifiers together with their potential of being a threat to you and your family’s health.
This specific type of humidifier typically produces moisture in cool mist form through ultrasonic vibration. The main concern with most ultrasonic types is the fact that minerals that water contains, specifically tap water, can get dissolved and released into the air in the form of white dust.
This white dust will not only fall on surfaces around your room and create a white film because it can become a serious health risk as well to children and people suffering from respiratory problems.
On a study conducted at the University of Utah, it was discovered that an infant suffered from a serious lung injury because of breathing in the water’s aerosolized mineral composition or what you call white dust.
The study revealed that some of the medical conditions discovered in the infant because of the accidental white dust inhalation include tachypnea, prolonged hypoxemia, mild nonreversible obstructive ventilator effect, and pneumonitis.
Young kids, particularly those who have asthma, should take some necessary precaution when using a dehumidifier because of these concerns.
As far as ultrasonic humidifiers are concerned, the most crucial part to prevent the occurrence of such respiratory damages is to keep up with the maintenance of the unit. Failure to regularly clean the inside part of the unit will create the ideal conditions for bacteria and mold to thrive.
The pollutants can get dispersed back to the air in the form of the released mist. Just the mere thought that microorganisms get released to the air around you is already unsettling enough.
While there is a less severe risk of breathing in bacteria or airborne minerals when using a hot vaporizer humidifier, sadly, there is a higher risk of danger. A vaporizer comes with a heating element boiling the water in the reservoir and releasing moisture to the air in the form of steam.
It is a must to clean the units regularly because moist and warm environments such as the insides of the unit’s reservoir are the perfect breeding grounds for mold and bacteria.
Since the steam that these units produce is only re-circulated water coming from the water inside the unit, this may produce bacteria and mold that can be released back to the air when not properly maintained and cleaned. It can lead to a humidifier lung or hypersensitivity pneumonitis, a possible harmful respiratory illness.
This specific type of humidifier is not suggested for use around children due to the extremely high risk of being burned. Most units are hot to touch and once spilled, extremely hot water would splash out.
In the study conducted by the EPA, the clear number one and safest type of humidifier was the evaporative humidifier. There is a lesser chance for these humidifiers to release minerals or bacteria back to the air. An evaporative humidifier works by releasing unheated air over wet absorbent material such as a wick or filter.
As far as healthy quality of indoor air is concerned, the evaporative type is a much better option compared to vaporizer or ultrasonic units. This is because these humidifiers have the ability to prevent over-humidification and self-regulate.
Over-humidification is the main issue with many kinds of traditional humidifiers since the forced-moisture nature of the units’ mechanics produces humidity levels no matter what the humidity level of your room is at. An extremely humid indoor environment can create an ideal condition for bacteria and mold growth that can lead to allergic reactions and health problems.
But, even if evaporative types are the most ideal humidifier you can choose, you have to take note that it is a must to maintain the cleanliness of water reservoirs through regular maintenance. Surfaces that hold sitting water must be cleaned on a regular basis to prevent mold from growing.
Tips to Enjoy the Benefits of a Humidifier
There are several things you can do to reap all the benefits of maintaining proper balance of air quality in your room using a humidifier with no risk. Here are some tips you can follow:
- Remove the water then clean your humidifier if you notice a film forming inside.
- Change your humidifier’s water on a daily basis.
- Clean your unit every three days.
- Always use distilled water to prevent release of dust and mineral buildup.
- Maintain your home’s humidity level between 30 and 50 percent. Higher levels than this range can form an environment where mold and bacteria can grow.
- Prepare your unit properly for storage. Make sure you clean it before and after you store it away for warmer months.
Prevent Dryness in Your Home Before It Happens
Is a humidifier too much for you to handle? There are other alternative solutions you can do to combat seasonal dryness, and these are as follows:
- Combat dry nasal and throat passages with a nasal irrigation or neti-pot.
- Drink higher amounts of fluids like water, juice, and low sodium broth. This can help in counteracting the drying effects of colder months.
- Use skin creams after taking a shower to moisture your skin and lips.
Lower your shower’s heat levels. Extremely hot showers will only lead to skin dehydration. Shower using warm water instead and stick with mild soaps.