But, how much is too much humidity? Well, experts agree that the optimal RH level for comfort and to avoid health effects is between thirty and fifty percent.
So, high humidity in your house can cause health problems, sleep discomfort, mold to grow, harmful bacteria to spread and also some damage to your home.
Whenever you are spending time in your workplace or home with a humidity level of over sixty percent, it’s likely that you would experience particular health concerns.
Reasons Why Direct Effects of Humidity Can Be Very Harmful
It is more likely that you will experience indirect effects. Whether it is outdoors or indoors, too much humidity with high temperatures may cause the bodies to overheat.
If it happens, the consequences can be really dangerous.
Do you wonder why sticky, hot, humid air feels uncomfortable than dry, hot air? The reason behind it is that humidity impedes the ability of the body to regulate the temperature of the body and cool down.
Extreme humidity can basically cause the body temperature to increase. So, how does it work?
Generally, when temperatures get very hot, the body has defense mechanisms, which can kick in to keep the internal temperature steady.
These are altered blood circulation, increased respiration, and sweating.
Sweating is a vital one and it’s greatly impeded by excessive humidity in the air. Sweating basically cools the body if moisture evaporates from the skin.
But, when the air is saturated with water vapor already, sweat cannot evaporate. Therefore, rather than cooling down, you will feel stickier and hotter. At this point, the body will be forced to resort to some means to try cooling off.
That is the reason why you might notice yourself breathing rapidly once you get hotter. Your heart will pump more blood to extremities and less to internal organs and brain. That is the reason why you feel foggy and sluggish.
You might faint or feel light-hearted. You might also feel muscle cramps, particularly in your legs.
Due to the loss of electrolytes, salt, and fluids, the body will overheat. Then, if your body cannot maintain temperature, you may develop heat stroke or heat exhaustion that can be fatal.
High Humidity and Its Indirect Effects to Health
While humidity’s direct effects can be harmful, in many cases, you’ll know you are in danger and find ways to cool off. But, the indirect effects of too much humidity can be insidious.
Humidity may cause some changes in your indoor environment, which may cause you to be ill.
Viruses and bacteria take hold in humid conditions. Spending some time in an environment with high humidity can make you sick, particularly from respiratory infections.
The viruses and bacteria that cause illness to grow and thrive in the air that is above 60% RH.
In addition to that, humid air makes such contaminants stay airborne for a long period of time before setting into the surfaces.
Therefore, when you are in a humid place and people are coughing and sneezing around you, such nasty germs stick around and multiply. And it is more likely that you’ll breathe them in.
High Humidity Results to More Airborne Chemical Contaminants
Organic contaminants including dust mites, mold, and bacteria are not the only things that could get worse in the air with a high level of humidity.
Airborne chemicals, which cause adverse physical effects, may also increase as the level of humidity.
Daily building materials including wood and carpet products release chemicals like formaldehyde in the air.
This occurrence is known as off-gassing. When there is a lot of humidity in the air, the focus of such noxious chemicals increases because of the reaction of chemicals along with water vapor.
Even low exposure to such chemicals could make people experience throat, eye, and skin irritation and respiratory symptoms.
Such problems are increasing with the construction of energy-efficient buildings that might have low ventilation rates of fresh air.
This is why it is essential for modern buildings to keep proper levels of humidity for great indoor air quality.
Common Causes of High Humidity
Now that you already know some things about excessive humidity and why it causes some health problems, you should also know the causes of high levels of humidity.
Oversized Air Conditioner
It is a more common situation compared to what you could imagine. Oftentimes, building contractors make mistakes by installing air conditioners that are very powerful for your space.
Due to this, the unit will turn off often and won’t run long enough to get rid of the humidity from the atmosphere.
Not Enough Ventilation
Having not enough fresh air may boost the levels of both organic and chemical pathogens, which cause illness and discomfort from humidity.
The changes to HVAC design by qualified professionals like re-routing ductwork and adding makeup air can make a huge difference in the levels of humidity.
Neglected Maintenance of Your AC Unit
When the equipment was neglected and doesn’t work efficiently, you might end up with a lot of moisture in your space. Getting good cleaning and tune-up may restore it to a good working condition.
Dealing with High Humidity
The best way to beat molds is by keeping the relative humidity under 55 percent in every room.
The good thing is that molds require 1 or 2 days of elevated moisture to start growing.
So, you must not worry if your kitchen becomes more humid while you are cooking as long as you could bring back down the humidity to its recommended range.
There are other things that can increase the relative humidity in your office or home. Hot baths and showers make the bathroom one of the rooms with more than normal humidity.
Running the dishwasher, doing laundry, breathing, and having houseplants with some exposed soils can add moisture to the air.
But, among the different ways to control the moisture in excess in your home or workplace, installing a dehumidifier can be the best solution to avoid some health problems.
Just make sure to choose the right dehumidifier for your needs.