Businesses have been urged to pay attention to humidity in buildings to maintain good indoor environmental quality.
BSRIA says it is well documented that humidity plays an important role in assuring the wellbeing of building occupants. In the UK we spend over 80% of our time indoors and, with around 90% of the associated costs of a building being staff related, providing good indoor environmental quality is essential.
The recommended levels of humidity vary depending on the application (offices, data centres, hospitals). In some industrial applications (heritage, storage), moisture stability is essential for preservation. In offices, the generally accepted levels of humidity may range between 40-60%.
Blanca Beato-Arribas, asset performance team leader at BSRIA, said: “Humidity extremes are undesirable and affect human comfort, productivity and health. Long periods of exposure to humidity levels under 35% should be avoided as they can cause eye irritation, throat and nose dryness. This is a common occurrence in aircraft, where humidity levels can be as low as 20%. Low humidity levels can also increase static electricity, which is a bigger cause of concern in data centres, where equipment can be damaged or in places where there might be risk of gases igniting.
“At the other end of the spectrum, high levels of humidity encourage bacteriological and mould growth and increase the chemical and sensory emission from water borne building varnish and paint, contributing to poor indoor air quality.
"In summary, controlling the humidity levels and regular maintenance of the systems in an office building will avoid future costly problems related to mould growth and also contribute to the wellbeing and productivity of the occupants.”