Summary: Relative humidity levels between 40% and 60% make it much less likely for harmful airborne viruses & bacteria to make their way into our bodies. Learn more about how and why dry air can leave us more vulnerable to infection.
Check out our collection of humidifiers here.
This upcoming flu season is going to be a tough one to avoid.
Whether you're the type to get sick or not, 2020 has been crazy enough - the last thing we need is to catch the flu and quarantine ourselves in fear of passing it along to our friends, family, and loved ones.
Now, realistically speaking, it's pretty much impossible to completely avoid anyone & everyone who has the flu. Whether it's at home, work, school, or the neighborhood grocery store, we're bound to interact with someone who was sick, is sick, or about to be sick.
So what do we do? Wash our hands more? Stock up on sanitizer?
Not exactly. The answer lies in a series of scientific publications made by a world-renowned Harvard Medical School graduate & lecturer, Dr. Stephanie Taylor (MD, M Arch, RSPH, MCAB).
As a scientific researcher, Taylor dedicated a significant portion of her life toward understanding how & why infectious diseases get passed on so easily from person to person during the colder months of the year.
Featured by Forbes and recognized by the International Society of Indoor Air Quality & Climate, the results of her findings may just be our best bet at making sure we spend the upcoming holiday season with our loved ones in-person, and not over video conference calls.
By simply managing relative humidity levels with a humidifier, Dr. Taylor managed to decrease influenza-related illnesses in various schools & hospitals by over 65%.
Think about this for a second. If she was able to produce these results consistently in schools filled with children & hospitals packed with patients, imagine how effective it can be in our homes, where we have complete and total control over our environment.
Dr. Taylor even spoke on this topic in a recent interview:
“My husband has ongoing respiratory problems and had at least one serious illness each winter. Ever since we started monitoring our indoor relative humidity and keeping it around 40%, even when using our wood stove, he has not been sick."
Understanding the science behind why humidity can shield us from catching the flu is actually a lot simpler than you might think.
The overarching concept to keep in mind is that when the air around us is dry, viruses can float for much longer periods of time and travel much further distances than usual.
This is super dangerous because the longer these viruses stay airborne, the more likely it will be that they somehow find their way onto our skin & into our system.
However, when there's enough water in the air (at higher humidity levels), the water molecules attach to the airborne bacteria & virus particles, dragging them down to surface levels before they get a chance to latch onto a human.
Why do dry viruses want to latch onto humans to begin with?
We used to think that dried-out viruses were as good as dead, but they're actually just inactive.
Most viruses that get released into the air are dehydrated after a period of time and will latch onto to the first source of water they can find.
Humans are made of 60% water, making us an ideal place for them to restart their infectious cycles.
A common misunderstanding that comes up is that "if viruses need water to survive, then isn't dry air better so that they die off quicker?"
Remember, viruses do not die because of dryness. They're pretty much "sleeping" until they happen to find a source of water. Killing viruses isn't hard to do, but getting them to settle down to where you can just wipe them off is nearly impossible without the right environmental settings.
We need water molecules for the airborne bacteria & viruses to latch onto, bringing them down to physical surfaces that we can actively sanitize and clean.
Even if we don't kill the viruses, the odds of us getting sick with something like the flu are significantly reduced by relocating them away from the air that we breathe.
So here's how we can keep our homes, offices, and even vehicles at an ideal 40-60% relative humidity level to maximize safety.
The first thing you'll need is a way to measure your relative humidity. We would highly recommend picking up a hygrometer from your neighborhood drugstore or pharmacy. They're relatively inexpensive and should be readily available.
If you find that your indoor space is consistently below 40%, get a room humidifier! Buying a humidifier isn't going to solve all your problems and virus-proof your home, but it will definitely help decrease the risk that we expose ourselves to on a daily basis.
There's a lot to consider when purchasing a humidifier, but the general rule of thumb is just to pick something that has sufficient capacity and produces a healthy volume of mist. Make sure you pick an option that has some sort of basic filtration process - the last thing you want is to release unhealthy minerals (depending on how hard the water you use is) into your air while trying to improve your space.
Something we say at the end of every Community Update Blog Post is that we want be completely transparent and honest with our readers: although we do design and sell our own humidifiers at Missed Global, we assure you that we are just trying to spread the word on proper humidity management. We encourage you to continue to read up on the benefits of owning a humidifier and consider adding one to your household, even if it does not end up being from our collection.
Humidifiers have always been great flu companions and symptom relievers, and it's pretty recent news that they can serve a preventative purpose as well. Our team really just wants to make sure that you know how great a humidifier can be for your safety & health, especially throughout the upcoming months.
More important now than ever, is making sure that we win our ongoing & invisible wars against bacteria and viruses.
As always, practice caution, stay optimistic, and take care of yourselves! Everyone here at the MG team is sending you all of our best wishes and healthy vibes - thanks for reading! If you have any questions, thoughts, or concerns, feel free to reach out to our team via our contact page or leave a comment below, and we'll reach out!
- Written by Henry J.
Lead Product Specialist