People spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, and breathe 12,000 litres of air per day. It is therefore important to understand the powerful influence that indoor air quality has on our wellbeing, especially during this extraordinary time of the coronavirus pandemic. While the impact of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) on humans has been widely discussed within the context of the ‘sick building syndrome’, the role dry air plays in spreading of microbes, including viruses, is often neglected. High performing HVAC systems and proper humidification strategies are required to maintain a stable and healthy indoor air quality in buildings.
How Does Humidity Affect the Spread of Viruses?
One way for viruses to spread is within small water droplets. The higher the air humidity, the larger the droplets become, which stops them from traveling as far. Small droplets, on the other hand, can travel through large open office spaces and survive for hours – infecting more people. Furthermore, many bacteria and viruses become more virulent when exposed to dry air.
In temperate climates, the humidity of air often drops to a relative humidity of below 40 percent during the colder months. However, the ‘sweet spot’ for indoor air humidity is 40-60 percent, as this dramatically reduces the risk of disease transmission, and enables the body to better repair and protect itself.
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