Humidity control and indoor air quality are important elements when it comes to ensuring health and safety in any building environment, especially in public buildings that see a lot of traffic. In the absence of regulations, be it a house, strata, restaurant, school, office or hospital, there is considerable risk to the health of occupants. For instance, unchecked and unhealthy levels of humidity can encourage the growth of mould and dust mites, affecting the health of everyone, particularly those living with chronic respiratory problems.

Worse, uncontrolled humidity levels can increase the risk of occupants to viruses – a particularly critical concern during this time when COVID-19 has practically shut down the world.

No humidity control regulations

There is no regulation currently in place for humidity control and indoor air quality in public buildings. It’s generally recommended to maintain humidity at 40-60% to ensure physical comfort for occupants as well as stop viruses from growing and cross contaminating. Older buildings such as schools, hospitals and aged care facilities most likely do not have updated measures on humidity levels, exposing their people to health threats that could be avoided.

Research has shown that viruses, such as the coronavirus, deactivate at a faster rate on surfaces under mid-range humidity. Such an important fact has not been included in any official advisory, increasing the susceptibility of people to infections.

Humidity varies every season

The ideal humidity level varies from season to season. If it’s maintained too high in the summer, it increases temperature and causes discomfort and excessive perspiration. In winter, people could develop skin problems and sinus infections from the cold weather if their buildings do not have proper ventilation. Incorrect humidity levels for sustained periods could also lead to more serious respiratory problems.

Indoor humidity levels depend on the outside temperature. Optimise the use of your air-conditioning units, humidifiers, dehumidifiers and windows to enhance comfort levels.

Tips to enjoy optimal indoor humidity

With no official humidity control regulations in place yet, experts have shared their best practices in regulating temperature and humidity for occupants’ health:

  • Adjust air-conditioning temperature and humidity – make sure humidity falls in the comfortable 40-60% range
  • Deflect uncomfortable draughts by installing deflectors on air vents, while ensuring adequate air flow
  • Control heat from sunlight through louvres and blinds
  • Use dehumidifiers to extract moisture from the air and reduce humidity
  • Increase ventilation by using extraction fans in bathrooms and laundry areas – generally humid areas of a house that can dramatically increase humidity when used
  • Use a hygrometer or thermometer to check humidity levels indoors

Ensuring the ideal humidity level

The simplest way to ensure a comfortable humidity level is to open a window. When designing public buildings, it is critical to incorporate easily operable equipment that can be used by anyone. Windows are a cost-effective measure to control humidity without driving energy consumption.

If your budget permits, invest in automated windows that are highly effective in controlling humidity using air quality sensors. They open and close depending on the humidity, temperature and CO2 levels of the interior space, even purging stale air during off-peak hours.

The final word

The humidity level and indoor air quality in public buildings must be efficiently managed by building owners and facility managers to ensure the health and well-being of occupants by protecting them against the risk of any virus. At this time when the coronavirus poses a grave threat to our immune system, better regulations could be a valuable tool in our line of defence.

Read our recent case study on the Royce to learn how Safetyline Jalousie louvre windows can assist in improving indoor air quality and humidity control.