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HOW INDOOR HUMIDITY AFFECTS YOUR HEALTH

January 13, 2020

When it comes to your health, indoor humidity levels is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. But, relative humidity can actually play a big role in how you’re feeling day to day. And since we spend over 90% of our time indoors, it’s definitely something worth paying attention to.

Here in Los Angeles, it’s more likely that you’re feeling dry. Despite the proximity to the coast, we don’t experience the extreme humidity and afternoon showers like our friends in Florida. Still, you could encounter either high or low humidity levels in your home. 

While indoor humidity levels may seem inconsequential, the impact it can have on your health can range from minimal and annoying to severe and life-altering.

Humidity and Asthma, Allergies and Immunodeficiencies in Los Angeles

If you or a loved one suffers from allergies or immunodeficiencies, especially respiratory conditions like Asthma, humidity will have an even greater impact. 

Indoor air is notoriously polluted (containing up to 5x the pollutants as outdoor air) due to poor circulation. Humidity can either foster these pollutants or exacerbate your symptoms. 

For some people, humidity swings cause flare-ups in symptoms. Those that are more susceptible and sensitive to humidity will experience a host of health issues, even in their own homes. 

Luckily, there are solutions that work to improve the quality of indoor air. Outfitting your LA abode with IAQ products that work to purify the stuffy air can address the negative effects of humidity and common allergens.

Understanding Humidity

Humidity is expressed as the amount of water vapor in the air. 

Humidity can be measured as absolute humidity (the total amount of water vapor in the air regardless of temperature) and relative humidity (the percentage of humidity in the air compared to how much the given temperature could support). Most commonly, meteorologists and HVAC professionals will cite humidity in terms of relative humidity. 

As air warms and cools, the moisture in the air also heats up or cools down. That creates another element of discomfort to contend with. 

Consider the difference between a sauna and a steam room. While they are both very hot in terms of air temperature, the amount of moisture creates a different feeling for the body. You might be very uncomfortable in the dry environment of a sauna, or feel suffocated in the 100% humidity of the steam room. The difference isn’t the temperature – it’s the humidity. 

The ideal humidity range is between 40-50%. Not only do most people feel most comfortable at this range, it’s the ideal level for health purposes too. Read on to discover the concerns and solutions with moisture levels that are too high, as well as too low. 

High Humidity in Los Angeles Homes

Most people in LA won’t ever deal with high humidity. But, there are some special cases where humidity could become a problem in your home. When we experience those rare rainy days, moisture can make its way into your home. High indoor humidity can make a rainy day even worse! Here’s why:

Why High Humidity is Bad

High humidity in your home will not only lead to physical discomfort, but it could also impact your health and wellbeing. High humidity can cause these symptoms:

  • Overt mucus production 
  • Moisture in lungs – coughing, trouble breathing 
  • Dehydration
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle cramps

The risks of mold exposure

High humidity is the ideal environment for mold, mildew, and fungus to spawn. Many household items as well as building materials support the development of mold. While some reactions to mold exposure can be mild, others can be severe. 

The longer mold is left to fester in a home, the larger it will grow. This creates a greater likelihood of residents experiencing adverse health effects including all of the aforementioned symptoms of high-humidity, as well as fatigue, shortness of breath, fever, the potential for a fungal infection.

Solutions for High Humidity Homes

Even if symptoms are manageable, no exposure to mold is healthy to endure for any extended period. It’s best to take preventative measures by outfitting your home with these products designed to combat high-humidity:

Low Humidity in your LA Home

A more common curse for LA residents to contend with is low humidity. During droughts, Los Angeles can experience significantly low levels of humidity. While this skirts the issues presented by high humidity, moderate humidity (40-50%) is more ideal than low levels that fall below 40%. 

Why Low Humidity is Bad

Beyond a few instances of static shock, you will also experience further discomfort if your home is too dry. The symptoms of low humidity closely reflect allergy or asthma symptoms. These symptoms include:

  • Dryness of the throat and eyes
  • Dry, unproductive cough
  • Itchy skin and cracking
  • Bloody noses 
  • Raspy breathing
  • Brittle hair and nails

Solutions for Low Humidity Homes

Addressing low humidity indoors is a simple approach. The first step is to produce humidity through a whole home humidifier. This ensures that every inch of your home is accounted for. 

Sure, there are mini humidifiers you can buy at local stores. But to get the same results as a built-in humidification system, you’d need one of those small units for every 100 square feet of your home. Plus, you’d need to keep the trays full of water and remember to turn them on and off.

A whole-home humidifier is a set-it-and-forget-it system.These units will keep your indoors at the ideal humidity levels all year round. We’ve had many customers call us back after installation to remark what a difference it has made within just a few HOURS! 

Start at home to limit humidity’s impact on your health

We spend a significant amount of time at home, even if just for a good night’s sleep. If you or someone in your family is especially susceptible to humidity, you, unfortunately, can’t snap your fingers and uproot your family to move to an area with ideal humidity. However, you can utilize HVAC products, IAQ products in particular, to combat humidity within your own home. 

At Brody Pennell, we know the Los Angeles climate better than anyone. Let us recommend a unique solution to calibrate the humidity level in your home. From self-correcting HVAC systems to IAQ products that purify and restore your air, we provide solutions for every threat to your air quality. Together, we’ll take your air quality from top-of-mind to peace-of-mind. Give us a call at (310) 810-2721 or schedule online to start breathing easier!


About The Author

Brody Pennell

Since 1945, Brody Pennell Heating & Air Conditioning is the committed to helping homeowners in the greater Los Angeles area experience total home comfort. In 2021, the readers of the Los Angeles Times voted Brody Pennell the Best HVAC Company in the area.

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