Relative Humidity and viruses
Vancouver’s Relative Humidity over the last few days has been fluctuating from 26% to 50% which make viruses very happy. Most people’s homes, like mine, are probably in the 35% range. Hopefully that will change soon, since viruses love low humidity and our immune system has a lot of trouble with it. I will give you some quick hacks to raise your humidity. There is a caveat though, you don’t want it too high either. The sweet spot is between 35% and 55% RH.
What is Relative Humidity
Relative humidity is the measure of moisture in the air. It is the percentage ratio of water vapor density (mass per unit volume) to the saturation water vapor density. Relative humidity also approximately represents the ratio of the actual to the saturation vapor pressure.
Actual vapor pressure is a measurement of the amount of water vapor in a volume of air and increases as the amount of water vapor increases. Air that attains its saturation vapor pressure has established equilibrium with a flat surface of water. That means, an equal number of water molecules are evaporating from the surface of the water into the air as are condensing from the air back into the water.
Relative Humidity is among the most common of indoor air environmental factors implicated in occupant discomfort. Elevated humidity has been shown to be associated with a worsened perception of Indoor Air Quality
Worse symptoms due to low Relative Humidity
Dry cracked skin, nasal passages dry out sometimes causing nosebleeds. Very low humidity can create discomfort, respiratory problems, and aggravate allergies in some individuals. Eye irritation is also common.
What happens to our immune system?
- Cilia, which are the little hair like things in our airways to remove virus particles and mucus.
- Cells can’t repair in our lungs if the virus causes damage.
- Proteins cannot signal to each other that there is a threat!
The study from Yale link.
Relative Humidity Hacks to beat a virus
1 – Soak a towel and hang it up. Towels have a huge surface area and are designed to soak up water. The towel is a great hack to use in reverse for the water to evaporate!
2 – Simmer water in a large pot. But don’t let it dry out!
3 – Leave bowls of water around the house, it will slowly evaporate.