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Humidity control could reduce the transmission of viruses

Humidity control as part of the indoor air quality (IAQ) discussion has very much been in the news recently. IAQ has come into focus as we try to replicate good quality fresh air in our homes and buildings irrespective of the outside air quality, whilst being conscious of energy usage which could put greater pressure on climate change.

The percent infectivity of airborne influenza at a constant temperature (20 degrees centigrade). Curve shows all size fractions (>4 µm, 1–4 µm, and <1 µm). From Noti et al., 2013.

The benefits of humidity control are well documented creating a more comfortable condition, adding to thermal comfort (feeling warmer for a lower air temperature) and importantly reducing the transmission of bacteria and viruses.

Scientific data does show that to maintain a humidity of 50 per cent rh will reduce the transmission of viruses by keeping the bodies defence mechanism (mucus membrane in the nose and throat) moist and able to capture air borne bacteria and virus before it enters the body.

So, is there a practical solution to retro fit into offices or the home? Mobile humidifiers can be used but they do require regular manual filling and take up floor space.

Possibly the best solution is to use the HomEvap which can be fitted to a heat recovery unit in a house or supplied with a fan to be neatly installed above a false ceiling in an office – out of the way, plumbed in, and providing excellent control automatically.

This is a coldwater evaporative humidifier with the energy usage being between 20-90 watts dependant on if you require a fan or not. A single humidifier can evaporate five litres of water per hour which will provide humidity control to room with a volume of approximately 1200 metres cubed.

Comfortable, healthier environment for net zero energy usage (temperature can be reduced by two degrees Celsius when the humidity is raised from 30-50 per cent rh for the same thermal comfort).

If you already have a humidifier then the advice is to ensure that your humidifier is maintained to the manufacturer’s recommendations.  If you don’t, we can recommend considering the HomEvap, or contact us at Humidity Solutions for specific advice about your own environment, as we have a range of products to choose from.

19 March 2020

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