Humidity is a measure of how much water or moisture there is in the air. Many people with asthma have more complaints when the air is humid. When people speak about humidity, they actually talk about ‘relative humidity’. This is the percentage water in the air, compared to the maximum amount of water the air can hold given the current temperature. When the weather is hot, the air can contain more water than cold air. So, the same relative humidity of say 60% might feel more wet on hot days than on cold days. How does humdity affect asthma?

Importance of humidity

Many people find a humidity of 30-60 percent comfortable. During the hot summer months, many people feel that a humidity level of 55% is comfortable. Above this level, the air is considered humid. Because sweat doesn’t evaporate enough to cool you off, you feel hot and sticky when the air is humid. Above the level 65% is felt as oppressive.

But also: humid air is harder to breath. That can be a problem if you have asthma. Many people with asthma feel that a humidity level above 65% may worsen their symptoms of asthma. When you have asthma, it is more difficult to pull enough air into the lungs, because your airways become narrow. This may cause feeling of shortage of breath or wheezing and coughing.

3 Ways Humidity worsens Asthma

Allergens, chemicals and strong scents are common triggers for people who suffer from asthma. But high humidity can be also just as troublesome.

People with asthma have inflamed airways that are sensitive to things that may not bother other people. That’s why humidity, and all that comes with it, can be a problem for people with asthma. Here are some reasons why.

  • Humid air feels harder to breathe in
  • Humidity may worsen air quality
  • Humidity can mean very high temperatures

Humid air feels harder to breathe in

Hot, humid air may feel heavier and denser and thus harder to breathe in. Besides, humidity may activate sensory nerve fibers in the airways. These C-fibers may narrow the airways and stimulate coughing, which makes it difficult to breathe. Besides, when heat and humidity make the air harder to breathe, the body temperature can go up. This causes sweat, which can lead to dehydration. This can lead to make you breathe faster. These factors may trigger asthma symptoms.

On the other hand, when the air is very dry -a relative humidity is less than 15%- it may also lead to coughing when you’re asthmatic. When the air is very dry, the mucous membranes of the respiratory system may dry out. These membranes line your lungs and respiratory system. This leads to an increased risk for infections from viruses: due to the decreasing natural defense from influenza or the common cold virus. Dry mucous membranes may aggravate allergy symptoms and worsen asthma symptoms (most asthmatics have also allergies).

Humidity may worsen air quality

Humidity can also trigger asthma because moist increase levels of mold, dust mites, ground-level ozone. Those are known as asthma triggers.

When the humidity level is higher than 50 percent, mold might begin to grow. Mold is often found at damp places. If you are sensitive for mold, it may trigger your asthma.

Dust mites are also a problem inside when humidity is high. Dust mites live in furniture, carpets, etc.  If the humidity in your home is higher than 50 percent, dust mites thrive and multiply themselves. Their dead bodies and waste may trigger asthma.

Heat and Humidity may also lead to stagnant air from pollutants (like ozone), allergens (dust, mold, dust mites, pollen) and smoke. This may also trigger asthma symptoms.

Asthma worsens feelings of well-being and productivity

For people suffering from asthma, poor humidity levels don’t affect only the feeling of well-being. It has effects on your productivity. An international study in the Journal of Asthma and Allergy shows: “The average percentage of work hours missed in a single week due to asthma symptoms was 9.3%, ranging from 3.5% (UK) to 17.4% (Brazil). Nearly three-quarters of patients reported an impact on their productivity at work caused by asthma. Overall work productivity loss (both time off and productivity whilst at work) due to asthma was 36%, ranging from 21% (UK) to 59% (Brazil). When asked how asthma made participants feel at work, many respondents highlighted how their respiratory symptoms affect them. Tiredness, weakness and mental strain were also identified as particular challenges, with respondents describing concerns about the perception of colleagues and feelings of inferiority”

Control your humidity level

Humidity levels can worsen asthma in 3 ways. It doesn’t only affect the feeling of well-being, but also productivity. Thus, it is very important for offices, schools, institutions etc. to assure that humidity levels are being kept on levels where children, employees, visitors feel most comfortable. Smart sensor solution like the AirGuard help to monitor the indoor air quality.

AIoT has many benefits. Those benefits can be summarized as: to save, to control, tot optimize and to innovate. How does AIOT gives you control over your processes? Some examples:

  • To measure is to know
  • Preventive Maintenance
  • Prevent Costs and nuisance in the event of a breakdown or bad functioning
  • Take the right decisions at the right time
  • Track & Trace

 To measure is to know

First, ‘to measure is to know’. You can only be in control of your processes, when you know how they are doing. Therefore, you need to measure.

However, AIOT is booming, still, many companies are in the blind how their processes are functioning.  Or insights are only piecemeal, insight in a machine here, a process there. Which means a company isn’t in control of their whole process.

Preventive Maintenance

Know the extent to which your machines are wearing out. Prevent them from breaking down and schedule maintenance at the least bad time. In doing so, your employees can pay attention to the parts that need their attention the most: sensors keep an eye on the ‘normally’ running parts.

Prevent Costs and nuisance in the event of a breakdown or bad functioning

In many cases, a machine is a part of chain of a whole production process. Thus, a breakdown of one machine means downtime for your whole process.

With IoT, you can create new ways and do more with the same budget. Many industries are working in heavy circumstances because of dust, wind, heat, pressure, etcetera. So, it’s important to recognize if the equipment is still working properly.  With IoT, you can predict and prevent equipment failure by monitoring product wear and replacement rates.  As such, you improve the reliability of your assets and reduce downtime. And if you recognize little faults, you can solve them easily before they have become big and expensive problems.

Take the right decisions at the right time

Having control means that you can take the right decision at the right time. E.g.:

  • To replace a motor of a machine
  • Adjust the circumstances, e.g., the indoor quality in your office, the temperature in your cooling
  • For both doctor and patient: Is the healing process going well?  Give the proper attention to patients who needs it. Instead of giving attention to every patient, without enough time. And even better:  You can optimize the healing process
  • Does the patient follow the medical instructions? Examples: is he doing his therapy on time and in the right way. Does he take his medications?  Especially groups of risk can be monitored so that timely action can be taken if necessary

Track & Trace

  • Keep grip on the presence of all your assets at all times
  • Keep grip on the production process, by knowing at any moment where parts are in the phase of a production process
  • Know where employees and visitors are on your premises, e.g., to avoid them entering hazardous areas. Or to warn them in case of calamities. And avoid unwanted visitors enter your premises

Optimal circumstances

  • Create optimal conditions for your employees. For example in the office by regulating a good indoor climate, which fortunately is getting more and more attention. Poor air quality can worsen the well-being of employees and visitors. It can also lead to lower productivity, for example because people feel lazy when the temperature is too high.
  • Some products and services are highly dependent on maintaining optimum conditions, such as cooling, for example, perishable products. When these conditions are no longer met, all products in a batch may have to be destroyed. Through IoT you can monitor whether these optimal conditions still apply. This allows you to intervene immediately when these conditions deteriorate.

See also:

The Benefits of AIOT: “Lower Costs or More Efficiency”

In a previous blog we already talked about Volatile Organic Compounds. Volatile organic compounds are organic chemicals that become a gas at room temperature. There are thousands of VOCs and a multiple of VOC’s are at the same time present. What are TVOCs?

What are Volatile Organic Compounds?

As said, these are organic chemicals that become a gas at low temperature levels. Or more practically put: they become gas at room temperature.

Or more scientific:

Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs are organic chemical compounds whose composition makes it possible for them to evaporate under normal indoor atmospheric conditions of temperature and pressure

They have a low boiling point, which results in high vapor pressure. This causes many molecules to evaporate or sublimate from the liquid or solid form of the compound to enter the surrounding air. This is called volatility: the ease of a substance to vaporize at a given temperature.

The EPA remarks: “Normal indoor atmospheric conditions of temperature and pressure used here refers to the range of conditions usually found in buildings occupied by people. Thus, depending on the type of building and its geographic location, the temperatures could be from the mid-30s (in Fahrenheit degrees) to the 90° F range and the pressure could be from sea level to the elevation of mountains where buildings might be located. This is not to be confused with “Standard Temperature and Pressure,” often used in analysis and presentation of scientific studies, but defined variously by different authorities. The most used, although not universally adopted, definitions are those of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). IUPAC’s standard is a temperature of 0° C (273, 15 K, 32° F) and an absolute pressure of 100 kPa (14.504 psi), NIST’s definition is a temperature of 20° C (293, 15 K, 68° F) and an absolute pressure of 101.325 kPa (14.696 psi).”

Some examples of VOC’s are:

  • Benzene
  • Ethylene glycol
  • Formaldehyde
  • Methylene chloride
  • Tetrachloroethylene
  • Toluene

But in fact, there are thousands of VOC’s. And they are everywhere. They occur naturally or may be human-made.

They can be generated from many products, such as paints, glues, fossil fluids. Some everyday examples you might not even realize: terpenes released when you peel an orange. Or the squalene from human skin oil. When they react with ozone, they form even more toxic molecules.

Some VOCs are immediately dangerous to the environment or humans, but mostly are not. Other VOCs are non-hazardous. If a VOC has impact on your health depends on indoor concentration, time spent indoors and hazardousness of the VOC.

If VOCs are harmful, these are mostly long-term health effects. However, there is still much research to be done. And as stated in the previous article, they may not be harmful for your health, but may lessen your sense of well-being and productivity.

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