Understanding the Impact of Moisture on Indoor Air Quality

Moisture is good when you’re in a pool or bathtub, for example, but damp spots in other areas of your home can lead to a variety of issues. Moisture is often tied to humidity, which is the amount of water vapor in the air. Humidity levels can lead to positive and negative effects. 

Because of this, moisture control inside the home is important. Too much humidity creates a breeding ground for fungus, mildew, and dust mites. These can all cause respiratory issues and allergic reactions. 

Too much moisture can be caused by:

  • Building materials that are repeatedly getting wet before the building is fully enclosed.
  • Rain and snow causing roof leaks.
  • Moisture-laden outdoor air entering the building.
  • Condensation on cool surfaces.

Too little humidity is also bad. It can cause dryness and irritation, particularly for those with respiratory conditions. Because of this, it’s important to find the right balance so that you and your family can live in a healthy environment.

A Complex Ecosystem

The indoors is its own complex ecosystem. Two key factors are moisture (humidity) and air (indoor air quality). There is always water vapor in the air. Air can never be entirely devoid of moisture except for maybe extremely controlled spaces.

The amount of water vapor in the air varies. The amount of moisture that is found in indoor air significantly affects the health and comfort of that space.

How Humidity Affects Indoor Air Quality

Humidity is tied to air quality in the following ways:

  • Increased air pollutants. How much water vapor is in the air can increase or decrease pollutant concentrations. Excessive dampness indoors degrades materials over time, worsening indoor air pollution. Higher humidity levels lead to worsened air quality, causing irritating odors, particles, and vapors. Indoor air pollutants also impact productivity, concentration, and mental mental health.
  • Increased chemical pollutants. High levels of humidity cause chemical pollutants such as volatile organic compounds, environmental tobacco smoke, ozone, and radon. High moisture levels can also create new pollutants. Water vapor may combine with sulfur dioxide to form sulfuric aerosols, acids, and salts. These can irritate the skin and respiratory tract. In some cases, they can even cause lung infections and cancer.
  • Increased biological pollutants. High humidity can cause high rates of biological pollutants such as bacteria, viruses, and  fungi. High moisture levels can cause these organisms to grow and reproduce, which can lead to allergies and asthma. Moisture is a key factor in the presence or absence of these organisms. Viruses are also known to thrive in various humidity levels. For instance, viruses like influenza and measles prefer lower humidity levels, while viruses like polio and herpes are more likely to spread in environments with more than 50% relative humidity. High humidity can also affect comfort and cause pests like cockroaches and dust mites to invade your living space. 
  • Emission of volatile organic compounds. High humidity levels emit volatile organic compounds, which make indoor air quality worse. They also cause adverse health effects such as headaches, nausea, and irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat. Liver damage, central nervous system issues, and increased cancer risk can also occur.

Healthy Humidity Levels

To prevent pollutants in the home as well as allergies and diseases, it’s important to have optimal levels of humidity in the home. Studies show that the healthiest home humidity level is 40–60% relative humidity. 

The healthiest home humidity level should:

  • Feel comfortable to occupants. 
  • Minimize the growth and spread of pollutants. 
  • Minimize the emission of chemicals.

You can reduce humidity in your home by:

  • Using a dehumidifier. A dehumidifier helps remove moisture from the air and can help cool down your home.
  • Turning on the air conditioning. Cooling the home can be helpful. The A/C system will cycle out hot, thick air and replace it with cool air that will feel less muggy. 
  • Turning on fans. Exhaust and ventilation fans in bathrooms and kitchens can circulate air and act as humidifiers. 
  • Avoid heat. Try not to use the oven. Opt for a cold shower. Don’t use your appliances as much. These tips will make your home cooler and less humid.

Contact Us Today

Moisture problems in the home are no laughing matter. Your home can become infested with mildew and fungus, causing potential health problems for you and your family. 

Contact Golden Circle Exterminators to get a free moisture control evaluation and treatment. We can complete one in just a few hours, so don’t delay. Schedule an inspection today by calling(731) 668-4887.