January 17, 2014

Humidity May Help Fight the Flu!

We all know hand washing, covering your mouth when you cough, and avoiding others who are sick helps prevent the spread of the flu virus. BUT did you know that proper humidity levels in your home and workplace also help stop the spread of the virus?

A new study done by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that relative humidity levels of 43% and above eliminate the vast majority of flu virus particles in the air. Moisture from the water vapor in the air combines with germs and other airborne chemicals, causing them to become heavy and fall to the ground. This makes surviving and spreading incredibly difficult for the virus at regular humidity levels.

In a previous study done by Jeffrey Shaman, Ph.D., of Oregon State University in Corvallis, he claims, “[the influenza virus’] ability to survive and be transmitted person-to-person is greatly affected by how dry or wet the air is”. The study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Shaman believes he’s found the answer: It’s all about humidity. Absolute humidity, that is, which is particularly low in cold weather. The difference is important, because cold air cannot hold as much water vapor as warm air.

Aha, low humidity from dry, cold air! Could this be the answer to the mystery behind the flu’s prominence in winter months?

There’s certainly more research to be done, but these developments suggest that maintaining comfortable humidity levels is critical in places where the spread of influenza poses a serious threat, like intensive care units or even a home with a sick child. You know what that means: there’s never been a better time to pull out your Crane Humidifier!