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Seems no-one in the UK is talking about the need to HUMIDIFY air

(34 Posts)
Kokeshi123 Sat 24-Oct-20 14:51:51

There is already a lot of evidence that this virus is being spread largely through the air, and that clean air matters a lot more than clean hands and surfaces (Yes, do wash your hands as well. Don't expect it to really dent the numbers of cases or deaths).

It seems like the UK has in the last couple of months cottoned on to the importance of ventilating rooms as much as possible. However, it appears that there is very little talk about the benefits of humidifying rooms as well.

This is just a sample, but the study here in Japan found that the spread of the virus is increased around three-fold in dry air versus humidified air. This is actually no surprise, because variations on this theme have long been noted in the scientific literature. For other seasonal viruses (influenza, colds etc.) as well as many other viral infections like measles, viral spread is greatly reduced when the air is humidified.

Is humidity the key to staying healthy?

This Inexpensive Action Lowers Hospital Infections And Protects Against Flu Season (this article discusses the mechanism by which humidity reduces the spread of viral particles)

While all those factors had modest influence, one factor stood out above them all, and it shocked the research team. The one factor most associated with infection was (drum roll): dry air. At low relative humidity, indoor air was strongly associated with higher infection rates. “When we dry the air out, droplets and skin flakes carrying viruses and bacteria are launched into the air, traveling far and over long periods of time. The microbes that survive this launching tend to be the ones that cause healthcare-associated infections,” said Taylor. “Even worse, in addition to this increased exposure to infectious particles, the dry air also harms our natural immune barriers which protect us from infections."

Since that study was published, there is now more research in peer-reviewed literature observing a link between dry air and viral infections, such as the flu, colds and measles, as well as many bacterial infections, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is funding more research. Taylor finds one of the most interesting studies from a team at the Mayo Clinic, which humidified half of the classrooms in a preschool and left the other half alone over three months during the winter. Influenza-related absenteeism in the humidified classrooms was two-thirds lower than in the standard classrooms—a dramatic difference. Taylor says this study is important because its design included a control group: the half of classrooms without humidity-related intervention.

Humidifiers are expensive, but fortunately, there are plenty of free, low-tech ways to humidify rooms. Should we not be talking about this--especially vis-a-vis schools?

OP’s posts: |
MJMG2015 Sat 24-Oct-20 14:53:57

Didn't you post this last week?

Keepdistance Sat 24-Oct-20 14:59:19

I wouldn't be surprised if uk classrooms are generally quite humid and damp as 31+ people in them. Lotx of wet coats etc.
But i do think ventilating by opening windows balancing with losing humid air and replacing with drier colder air

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Sat 24-Oct-20 15:00:11

That’s very interesting.
Looks like the charity shop role where you steam clean things will be even less risky than posters thought.

CuriousaboutSamphire Sat 24-Oct-20 15:05:45

I have a dehumidifier. I can be certain that my house is often quite humid and, now the heating is kicking in, quite warm too!

But mostly, I read the study and it's conclusion...

Based on a low level of evidence, the spread of COVID-19 seems to be lower in warm and wet climates. Furthermore, temperature and humidity alone do not explain most of the variability of the COVID-19 outbreak.

SexTrainGlue Sat 24-Oct-20 15:31:29

The conclusion quoted by CuriousaboutSamphire shows why no one is really talking about the 'need' - it's not been demonstrated that a need exists.

But even if it did, what sort of humidity is recommended?

UK is pretty damp anyhow (ranging high 60s to low 90s)

Whereas Japan, where the survey was carried out, ranges from 50 to mid 70s

Kittyninja Sat 24-Oct-20 16:06:25

We're in England, it's incredibly humid.

Ormally Sat 24-Oct-20 16:11:20

The right level: Studies of the general coronaviruses in existence (pre-this one) have said a 'sweet spot' of 40 to 60 percent humidity indoors is useful (not a failsafe though).

I have a humidity monitor. If not raining (South East, for reference), it will read 59 to 60 percent first thing in the morning and drop during the day. In the Summer it was about 40 to 43 percent. Apparently cold air that has been subject to central heating can dry up fast.

Colder places that often get Winter snow for a long time (ok, my sample is Austria and Calgary, Canada) can be incredibly dry, much more so than you would think.

ASchuylerSister Sat 24-Oct-20 16:17:58

It’s 88% humidity at the moment in my part of the UK (SE).

HesterShaw1 Sat 24-Oct-20 16:32:24

Oh I should be fine in my house then. It's made of granite and absorbs moisture like a sponge.

And given the shit, damp state of a lot of UK houses with all those people living together and exhaling more moisture, they should be absolutely fine too.

LilyPond2 Sat 24-Oct-20 16:48:58

I think a lot of the posters dismissing the issue are missing the point. The air outside may be humid, but if you have your windows shut and central heating on, the air indoors may still be very dry.

2bazookas Sat 24-Oct-20 16:55:22

In UK, only a minority of domestic homes have (or need) air-conditioning. Even in winter, we don't heat homes to anything like the temperature of many US homes. My home thermostat is set at 19C (68 F) in winter.

We live in Scotland. Rainfall happens all year round, n atural humidifier. I open all windows for at least an hour every day, winter and summer. We sleep with the bedroom windows open all night, all year round. So the air in our house is fresh, and never dry. It's clean and unpolluted, straight off the hills and sea.

BrightSunshineDay Sat 24-Oct-20 17:00:17

The air outside may be humid, but if you have your windows shut and central heating on, the air indoors may still be very dry.

Exactly. I live in a small terrace in Scotland and often have my heating on. The air does get very dry as my sinuses will atest to. I always have bowls of water in every room during the winter months otherwise I wake up with a dry throat and stuffy nose. And yes I open my windows as much as possible but when you have gale force winds and horizontal rain it's not always feasible.

GabriellaMontez Sat 24-Oct-20 17:34:27

Totally agree OP. This will be relevant in certain places here eg in an air conditioned office.

LilyPond2 Sun 25-Oct-20 00:43:48

OP, when I click on the last of the links in your OP, I get a message telling me that the website isn't available in my country. (I'm in the UK.) But thank you for posting. I have noticed the issue of humidity crop up in the "Studies Corner" threads and I certainly agree it needs more attention.

Inkpaperstars Sun 25-Oct-20 01:13:52

Try living in a small flat with no tumble dryer or utility area. Dry air won't be a problem!

But thank you for the post OP, I was unaware of the thinking on this. For some reason, to a lay person it seems that dry air would be 'cleaner'.

Kokeshi123 Sun 25-Oct-20 01:29:53

Yup, I think I did mention something about humidifying air on a thread last week.

I'm starting a thread on it here to discuss it again, because the thing is, when there is actually pretty good evidence that something can really help reduce spread of the virus in schools, businesses, hospitals, homes etc., and the thing itself is cheap and easy to do, and closing schools and businesses due to unchecked spread of said virus is both difficult and expensive, then I think it is actually worth while thinking about this.

Lockdowns and school closures cost money and education---why not try seizing some low-hanging fruit by doing things that are quick and cheap to do? Other countries have known about the humidification thing for a while. It all feels a bit like the early spring, when a few people here were trying to urge the importance of masks based on the experience of Asian countries, and there was a lot of skepticism.

OP’s posts: |
TracyBeakerSoYeah Sun 25-Oct-20 01:45:55

Well we get told to take babies into a steamy bathroom when they have croup or a constant barking cough & sound a bit wheezy.
Certainly helped my DD as a baby.
Hot water in a bowl with a bit of Vicks or Olbas Oil & you bent over the bowl with a towel over your head & bowl helps an adult with a cold & stuffy nose.
So it makes sense that humidity would help prevent Covid from spreading as much.
Also having good ventilation is key.
In my family sleeping with a window open all year round was the done thing as Great Grandma, Grandparents & parents said fresh air kept you healthy.
In the past TB patients were wheeled out in their beds from the sanatorium wards to the gardens to get a few hours of healthy fresh air.

ParlezVousWronglais Sun 25-Oct-20 01:54:56

Covid mostly infects by travelling in droplets from a person’s mouth or nose directly onto the other person. Unless there’s been an aerosol generating procedure it does not hang in the air. In most environments and day to day situations humidity will make very little difference to this.

alexdgr8 Sun 25-Oct-20 01:58:32

some of the TB patients had to sleep out on the veranda, i remember reading memoirs of nurses brushing the snow off the counterpane in the morning.

but how does all this relate to damp being a bad thing ?

LilQueenie Sun 25-Oct-20 01:11:26

I've had my windows open night and day since March to dilute any virus particle that may have entered the house. It was mentioned very early on in studies that keeping a good flow of fresh air around would help.

Guylan Sun 25-Oct-20 02:26:14

* Unless there’s been an aerosol generating procedure it does not hang in the air.*

The US CDC have now up on their website that there is good evidence that about 10% of the droplets breathed out (no aerosol generating procedure required) are smaller droplets that can carry much longer than 2 metres and linger in the air. So the larger droplets that generally fall to the ground within 2 metres are predominant but there are some that linger in the air and why ventilation indoors is required as well.

OP thanks for this I did not know there are some studies that suggest humidity can also help.

Guylan Sun 25-Oct-20 02:36:23

parlezvouswronglais, sorry a correction to the above. The CDC don’t cite the figure 10% of droplet respiratory emission is the smaller droplets than can linger in the air. They say it’s uncommon but can happen, usually in enclosed areas when an infected person has been talking for 30 mins or more . Extract from the CDC notice on it below with link to the full notice:

“Airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 can occur under special circumstances. Pathogens that are mainly transmitted through close contact (i.e., contact transmission and droplet transmission) can sometimes also be spread via airborne transmission under special circumstances. There are several well-documented examples in which SARS-CoV-2 appears to have been transmitted over long distances or times. These transmission events appear uncommon and have typically involved the presence of an infectious person producing respiratory droplets for an extended time (>30 minutes to multiple hours) in an enclosed space. Enough virus was present in the space to cause infections in people who were more than 6 feet away or who passed through that space soon after the infectious person had left. Circumstances under which airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 appears to have occurred include:

Enclosed spaces within which an infectious person either exposed susceptible people at the same time or to which susceptible people were exposed shortly after the infectious person had left the space.
Prolonged exposure to respiratory particles, often generated with expiratory exertion (e.g., shouting, singing, exercising) that increased the concentration of suspended respiratory droplets in the air space.
Inadequate ventilation or air handling that allowed a build-up of suspended small respiratory droplets and particles.
Prevention of COVID-19 by airborne transmission
Existing interventions to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 appear sufficient to address transmission both through close contact and under the special circumstances favorable to potential airborne transmission. Among these interventions, which include social distancing, use of masks in the community, hand hygiene, and surface cleaning and disinfection, ventilation and avoidance of crowded indoor spaces are especially relevant for enclosed spaces, where circumstances can increase the concentration of suspended small droplets and particles carrying infectious virus. At this time, there is no indication of a general community need to use special engineering controls, such as those required to protect against airborne transmission of infections, like measles or tuberculosis, in the healthcare setting.”

Guylan Sun 25-Oct-20 02:38:10

*sorry forgot to include above at the end the CDC page link

strictlysocialdistancing Sun 25-Oct-20 02:38:27

I think that this really interesting. I live in an exceptionally humid place and rates of transmission have been quite low and where there has been spread it has been inside heated places. Thanks for posting OP

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