Vapac is warning that buildings lacking humidity could threaten the nation’s health and believes the HVAC industry could play a key role in promoting awareness which could help control the spread of flu and other viruses.
Every winter when the internal air is much drier, it provides a positive environment for the spread of bacteria. Ill health increases the burden on an already over stretched NHS but the provision of humidification in buildings could help alleviate the problems,” says Dave Mortimer, Vapac’s National Sales Manager.
According to the latest research from Dr Linsey Marr at Virginia Tech, a single sneeze is enough to spread germs across an entire room. This means that any enclosed environments such as schools, hospitals, theatres, airports, planes, trains and open plan offices are potential breeding grounds for the spread of bacteria.
The HVAC industry and the scientific community have already known for over 40 years that low humidity levels increase the survival time of the flu virus. Any droplets expelled from a carrier, being water based, shrink rapidly due to evaporation in an environment that is less than 40% relative humidity (RH) and so remain airborne for long periods.
The average cough expels a jet of air several feet in length transmits approximately 3,000 droplets of saliva containing bacteria at speeds in the region of 50-70mph, little wonder then viruses can be spread on a large scale and so rapidly.
The drier the atmosphere the faster evaporation takes place, the lighter the particles become and the longer those droplets remain suspended in the air posing greater health risks. Dry air is also less comfortable and the effects on contact lens wearers, static electrical discharges and sick building syndrome are well documented.
Dr Marr’s research highlights the dangers of a single sneeze from an infected person which, combined with inadequate levels of humidification could significantly increase infection rates.
The humidification industry could hold the solution. Vapac believes that building owners should not be installing air conditioning as a comfort or heating system without making provision for the inclusion of humidification as they are running the risk of introducing an unhealthy environment.
Dave Mortimer would like to see the industry press for a change in the building regulations which could have a positive impact on the nation’s health.