Most people find the relative humidity level of around 45% to 55% to be comfortable. The levels of humidity can vary from one place to another and from one season to next. It is critical to ensure that you know the humidity levels in your home and in the environment since low or high relative humidity levels can both result to negative health effects.
So, what is considered low humidity outside? Humidity levels less than 30% are considered low and it can lead to discomfort, breathing difficulties, and may even damage the foundation of a house.
A Matter of Humidity
Even though you cannot control the humidity outdoors, you can control the humidity of your home using dehumidifiers and humidifiers.
Just as how humidity can get too low, it can get too high as well. Around 50% is the point wherein the air has excessive moisture.
Beyond this moisture level, things such as bacteria and mold can grow fast and result to both long term and short term breathing problems.
Humidity levels measure the water vapor amount in the air. There are two methods for measuring humidity, namely relative and absolute humidity.
Absolute humidity measures the water vapor level in the air. Relative humidity, on the other hand, measures the absolute humidity level and its ratio to the highest potential absolute level of humidity for the existing temperature. Warmer air holds more amounts of water vapor compared to cooler air.
When the air collects more water vapor, the level of relative humidity will move closer to 100%. Once clouds form air, this means that the level of humidity in the cloud already reached 100% and the air needs toe expel this excess moisture in rain form. 100% humidity at ground level may also mean rain in the forecast. But, rain at a ground level doesn’t necessary mean that the area has a humidity level of 100%.
Even though a lot of people consider temperature as the main factor that determines the level of comfort they experience, low or high relative humidity levels can dramatically change the level of comfort you feel.
Combined with high temperature, a high relative humidity may pose some danger for the elderly and children since the body has a more difficult time in cooling off once both the humidity levels and temperature are high.
Humans sweat in order to prevent the body from overheating amidst hot temperatures and any extra water vapor in air can prevent the evaporation of sweat from the skin that can make you remain overheated.
Just like the effects of high humidity, low levels of relative humidity can also make you feel as if the air is cooler than what it actually.
A low level of relative humidity may even serve as a trigger for different health concerns. The cold air during winter can hold notably lesser water vapor compared to warmer air that can cause the air to feel dryer during winter months.
Once low relative humidity and cold air combine, these can cause dehydration, respiratory issues, itchy and dry skin, and a higher chance of suffering from colds and other illnesses.
The environment of your home is also prone to the effects of low and high humidity alike. During the summer, if the interior of your house has a level of humidity higher than 45% and 55%, there is also a higher chance for mold to grow in your house.
If during winter season the air in your house has low level of relative humidity, there is a higher chance that wood surfaces or floors will shrink and warp and fungi will grow in the surfaces of your home.
How to Address Low Humidity Problems
For houses that have low humidity problems, there are household appliances that can help improve the moisture in the air. But, you will still need an indoor thermometer or a similar measurement to check that the levels of humidity have been set appropriately.
Humidifiers and vaporizers have several differences that can have different effects when you have certain health conditions.
A humidifier increases the moisture content in the surrounding square footage. In winter, people who have dry houses use humidifier to bring back moisture to the air. This process is not the same as with a vaporizer since this produces water vapor with the use of a quick turning dish submerged in water inside the appliance.
As there is no heating involve, a humidifier is a bit safer compared to vaporizers that use heat. But, this will also emit cold vapor. There are several risks with bacteria concerns for your humidifier if you don’t properly clean and maintain the filters.
A vaporizer is used for taking in the extracts of plants or any other sources for health and cold benefits. The focus of these appliances is on herbs and plant essences to create moisture for inhalation.
The vaporizer has a heating element that produces the steam that may cause serious injuries when touched. There are no risks of bacteria unlike with humidifiers, though.
Many homeowners whose houses are dry will prefer using a humidifier because this is made for dealing with dry air.
But, of there are bacteria-related issues or you are at risk of respiratory concerns, a vaporizer can be a much better option as it will let you inhale steam to help break up the congestion.
You can enjoy hot showers or steam baths to increase steam as you turn on the water hotter. If you are suffering from congestion because of dry air, you can fill hot water in the sink, put a towel over your head and lean down to inhale the steam.
Another method of increasing moisture in your home is by boiling water on your stove or placing hot water bowls around your home.
The Bottom Line
If a member of the household continues to suffer from congestion or sneeze incessantly, you need to check your levels of humidity to ensure that they don’t get too low or too high.