We have learned that in temperate climates humidity can control airborne viruses. With the overwhelming introduction and spread of COVID-19, keeping a healthy humidity rate in your home is another way to significantly reduce the risk of contracting this virus.
The flu and common cold are seasonal viruses. SARS (Severe acute respiratory syndrome) is a coronavirus very similar to COVID-19 which was discovered in China in 2002 during the winter months. It faded away at the end of the flu season by May of that year. If COVID-19 is seasonal, then we would expect the worst outbreaks to be in regions currently in their winter season. This is true in that the highest outbreaks are in China, Korea, Northern Italy, Iran, and the U.S. which are all now in their winter season.
We spend 90% of our time indoors in the winter. In cold weather, the air humidity is low and warming up that dry air when we have our heat on doesn’t raise the humidity. According to this article, most buildings do not raise the humidity to 40-60% at room temperature which provides the best protection against airborne viruses.
There are two main reasons why higher humidity is better and more protective. First, humidity cuts the survival rate of airborne viruses from coughing or even talking. The second reason is due to an improved immune system. At low humidity, the immune system has trouble filtering out pathogens including viruses. This allows the virus to enter our bodies. In low humidity (less than 23%), our mucous membranes in our sinuses and lungs are dried out and damaged which allows our body to be more vulnerable to viruses.
Start by finding out what the humidity is in your home, especially your bedroom by purchasing a simple humidity gauge. Don’t depend on home installed humidifiers to give you what you need. I have seen plenty of people with dry mucous membranes that have whole house humidifiers. A small humidifier in your bedroom and work space will vaporize the air in your personal space best.
We are doing everything we can to reduce the transmission of this virus to ourselves, our families and community. Why not add one more simple thing besides washing our hands and social distancing.