FAQ19: What about humidity concerns?
by David Blevins
1. The humidity at which your lungs work best is right around 100% at the place in your lungs where oxygen is exchanged for carbon dioxide (the alveoli---tiny little sacs).
2. You cannot humidify your house to 100% without creating an unbearable and unhealthy indoor environment. So, while there is nothing wrong with getting a whole house humidifier, humidity must also be preserved and/or added at the stoma level regardless.
3. You therefore should do what you can to preserve or add to the humidity already in your lungs such as (a) wearing an HME filter (b) wear a dampened cloth or foam stoma cover.
4. I just did some further research, and an indoor humidity level of 60% is the maximum before the negative health effects of too much humidity take effect (the previously reported level was 55%). A hygrometer (measures humidity) is a handy thing to own. You can get a very good digital one from WalMart for about $15. There is a photo of it in this issue of the WWJ:
There are two articles in this issue of the WWJ which suggests solutions for venturing outside in very cold weather:
<< What's the difference between warm mist and cold mist? >>
There are four basic ways humidifiers work: (1) steam (2) evaporation (3) impeller (fan) and (4) ultrasonic. The steam type is the "warm mist." One negative you trade off with the various types is the problem of minerals dissolved in tap water. They either get discharged into the room and put a layer of "dust" on everything (and with unknown health impact depending on what is in your tap water), or may end up clogging the humidifier. The other negative is that the impeller and ultrasonic types also put anything into the discharged air which has grown in the standing water in the tank if left too long. This is why the EPA says to clean the tanks of these type daily and, unfortunately, the design of some tanks makes this almost impossible (particularly the impeller type which get gummed up in the area where the electric fan is located).