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Top 4 Humidifier Safety Tips

With winter's low temperatures, indoor environments can become very dry due to heating. Humidifiers are often used to prevent or reduce dry skin, lips and throat but they can create issues if they are not maintained properly. Those with sensitive respiratory systems such as the elderly, young or those with conditions such as COPD can be negatively impacted through the use of a humidifier from the unintentional introduction of airborne pollutants.

The most common type of humidifier emits a "cool mist" which is created either through ultrasonic sound vibrations or a rotating disk. Studies, such as those by the EPA have shown that micro-organisms and minerals can be dispersed into the air with this type of humidifier. Micro-organisms can grow in standing water and when they are emitted into the air via the humidifier it can create issues for those with a sensitive respiratory system.

So, here is what you do:

  1. Measure the humidity levels in your home. If the humidity is above 50%, stop using the humidifier and empty the water out of the humidifier tank. If the humidity gets too high, it will begin to support dust mite and mold growth.
  2. Frequently clean the tank. Refresh the water in the tank daily and wipe the surfaces dry to prevent the growth of micro-organisms. If the tank looks dirty, chances are you are breathing in what you see.
  3. Try distilled (bottled) water. Tap water can contain numerous minerals that can result in scale build-up that leads to micro-organism growth. These minerals are also the source of white dust that settles when using the humidifier.
  4. Clean, clean, clean. Before storing for the summer or when not using the humidifier for an extended period of time, ensure all parts are thoroughly cleaned and dried. Any filters that are used with the humidifier should be disposed of.

The "cool mist" humidifiers can be very beneficial to improving the indoor air quality. The key is in investing the time to properly maintain these systems so they do not create potentially dangerous situations.