Humidity's Impact on Health and Indoor Conditions

Understanding the impact of humidity

Knowing your home’s humidity level is essential to improving indoor air quality and the overall health and comfort of you and your home. To ensure your home’s air quality, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests maintaining proper indoor relative humidity (RH) levels to reduce the effects of many of unwanted conditions associated with poor indoor air quality.

How do humidity levels affect us?

Too much house humidity can cause an increase in biological pollutants, like mold, bacteria, viruses, fungi, and dust mites that can trigger respiratory health ailments. Not enough house humidity can lead to nosebleeds, painful skin irritation, difficulty breathing and damaging static electricity.

Maintain a Healthy Balance

If you’re concerned about the humidity level in your home, check it regularly with AcuRite's Digital Humidity and Temperature Monitors. AcuRite's Humidity Monitoring products measure indoor temperature, humidity and some feature a humidity level icon to easily convey a low, high or ideal indoor humidity level for your home and health.

low humidity home comfort

LOW Humidity Level
Less than 25% RH
Humidity level is low relative to the temperature. This makes for a dry environment.

ok humidity home comfort

OK Humidity Level
Between 25% - 55% RH
Humidity level is OK relative to the temperature. This makes for a comfortable environment.

humidity HIGH for home comfort

HIGH Humidity Level
Over 55% RH
Humidity level is high relative to the temperature. This makes for a humid environment.

Protect your Home & Valuables


Aside from the health effects, extreme levels of house humidity can cause permanent damage to your home and furnishings. A hygrometer is an essential tool for homeowners, hobbyists, collectors, musicians and lifestyle enthusiasts concerned with protecting their investment.

In your home

Wood furniture and flooring and can dry out and warp with too little humidity. And with too much persistent humidity, mold and mildew can permanently damage your home leading to costly repairs.

Stamp collectors

Maintaining stable relative humidity will reduce the effects of hydrolysis (repeated de/absorption of water vapors), which ruins your stamps by making them brittle or discolored.

Photography collectors

High humidity can lead to fading, discoloration, and silvering, as well as mold growth and insect infestations. Extremely low humidity leads to photographs becoming brittle or the emulsion flaking off.

Art collectors

Fluctuations in temperature and humidity can damage artwork over time. Paint cracks, separates, and peels. Paper molds, tears, and fades. Antique veneers separate and warp. Fine papers and textile arts are particularly sensitive.

Wine enthusiasts

Maintaining the correct balance of temperature and humidity preserves your wine collection. Too much humidity and mold can grow and cellar woods and wine labels can be damaged. If your collection is too dry, the cork will crack and air will leak into the bottle ruining the wine.

Cigar aficionados

The ideal condition for storing cigars is relative humidity of approximately 68-74%. Desirable cigar flavors evolve in these conditions. Dry cigars become fragile and burn faster developing an unpleasant and slightly bitter taste. Damp cigars will burn unevenly and produce a heavy and acidic flavor.

Musicians

Natural wood is still the preferred material used to craft musical instruments because of its pleasing tonal qualities, but all varieties of wood expand and contract with changes in relative humidity. Humidity causes damage to instruments when internal stresses created by expansion or contraction cause glue joints to fail or the wood to crack.

Indoor gardeners

Your plants will love you for maintaining the proper level of humidity. Most houseplants thrive with humidity levels around 60%. Native desert plants prefer a much lower relative humidity (30-35%), while tropical plants favor more moisture (up to 90%).

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Further Reading

United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

  Humidity

 

how to measure humidityHow to Measure Humidity

humidity effects on housesHumidity Effects on Health and Home

measure humidity to control moldMonitor Temperature and Humidity to Control Mold

how to measure humidityMaintain Home Humidity Levels to Prevent Winter Dryness

 

 

 

References

This article references information published by the EPA. Retrieved January 10, 2012 from http://www.epa.gov/