Flu Season: Is the Humidifier Worth the Risk?
The flu-season is upon us, and while we suffer with dry or runny noses, coughs, or sore throats, we tend to turn to humidifiers from our local pharmacy to help us recover. What has been a staple in helping with common cold and flu-like symptoms, can actually cause symptoms to worsen.
Cool Mist Humidifiers
Cool mist humidifiers are one of the most common humidifiers on the markets since the 1980’s, due to the inexpensive cost and easy access. Using ultrasonic vibrations against the water in the reservoir, cool mist humidifiers turn the water, and water components, into mist.
The major issues with these types of humidifiers is the bacteria, chemicals, minerals, and molds all present in the tap water used become aerosolized and shot out across the room, causing you to breathe in these toxins. Bottled water also contained minerals that become aerosolized that are dangerous to breathe. In some cases, chronic lung disease can occur with long term humidifier use due in part to
breathing in the “white dust”, as this aerosolized action is referred to. The best choice to fill a humidifier reservoir is distilled or demineralized water.
Cool mist humidifiers are also the most common humidifiers to contribute to mold growth. The moist and cool environment is the ideal mold breeding ground.
Humidifiers are typically neglected when maintenance is concerned, and this lack of routine cleaning is what contributes to mold growth in the water reservoir.
Daily cleaning, when the humidifier is in use, should be routine. Simply wash your humidifier with hot soapy water, or place in the dishwasher, and allow to fully air dry.
Weekly cleaning should also be routine when the humidifier is in use. For weekly cleaning use 2 cups of either half water/ half bleach solution, or white vinegar, into your humidifier and run for 30 minutes. Fill water basin with water and run for 3 minutes. Allow humidifier to fully dry.
A common forgotten part of humidifier maintenance is to replace the filters. If your humidifier uses a filter to help trap contaminants, be sure to purchase replacement filters and replace as recommended per your manual’s recommendations. Failure to replace filters can result in trapped contaminants being released into the air.
When using a humidifier in your home, monitoring the humidity levels in highly recommended. Use a hygrometer, found at your local hardware store, to measure the humidity level in your home. Humidity levels are recommended to be kept around 30-60% in a home. The greater the humidity, the greater the chances for mold presence.
Regular vs Short Term Use
Regular use of humidifiers is not recommended, especially for those suffering from lung illnesses, such as asthma or COPD, or for those with allergies to mold or dust mites. The extra humidity humidifiers bring promote growth of both dust mites and mold which can aggravate allergies and cold symptoms, despite preventative cleaning efforts. Before implementing a humidifier treatment always consult with your physician.
When using a humidifier, be sure to keep it placed away from surfaces that are prone to mold such as windows, walls, or other porous surfaces. Mold can grow quickly in these areas of the home and become difficult to remove due to the spores taking root deep in the structures. If you suspect there is mold growth in your southwest Florida home call iMold to set up an inspection today.