Condair is launching a Humidity Fights Flu campaign to promote awareness that an indoor humidity level of 40-60 per cent RH is beneficial in combating airborne infections.
Tim Scott, head of sales at the humidification specialist, said: "There is overwhelming scientific evidence that person-to-person airborne flu infections are significantly reduced when indoor humidity is maintained at 40-60 per cent RH. Yet there is still no legislative requirement for public places or healthcare facilities to manage their humidity levels appropriately and take advantage of this effective weapon in the fight against seasonal flu.
As part of the campaign, Condair has published the summaries of 24 scientific studies on its website, which show the effect humidity has on health. The research shows three humidity-related processes that inhibit the spread of airborne respiratory infections. Firstly, that when an infected person breathes, sneezes or coughs-out infectious particles, fewer of them remain airborne if the air is above 40 per cent RH. Secondly, at 40-60 per cent RH those remaining infectious airborne germs are rapidly deactivated due to chemical reactions with the salts and proteins contained within their host airborne droplet. Lastly, the studies show that our respiratory system’s defence against airborne infection operates significantly better at between 40-60 per cent RH.
Worst flu season
Seasonal flu peaks when indoor humidity levels are at their lowest. Indoor environments where people are forced together for prolonged periods, like schools and educational establishments, offices and healthcare facilities are core battlegrounds in the spread of seasonal infections. This is particularly true of hospitals and GP surgeries where infected individuals are brought into close proximity with susceptible individuals.
A sharp rise in the cases of flu seen by GPs across England in the early weeks of 2018 suggest it could be the worst flu season for seven years. Nearly 22,000 people went to their GP with flu in the first week of 2018, according to the Royal College of GPs, and around 5,000 people were admitted to hospital, based on Public Health England figures for 22 out of 137 trusts. Similar trends have been seen in Scotland and Wales, with just over half of circulating strains believed to be the H3N2 strain known as “Aussie flu”, after problems the virus caused in Australia’s last winter.
Scott added: “Even putting aside the building services sector’s moral obligation to protect the health of its buildings’ occupants, humidity control for health makes obvious financial sense. Staff costs typically account for 90% of business expenditure and respiratory infections are the primary cause of short term absenteeism. Combine this cost to the business economy with the financial burden seasonal flu has on our health service and the cost of humidity control as a preventative measure in offices, educational and healthcare facilities pales into insignificance.”