Printer Friendly

Tapwater humidity: don't breath the air.

Tapwater humidity: Don't breath the air

High-tech home humidifiers that use ultrasonic waves to create a fine mist, raising relative humidity, are gaining popularity because they are quiet and efficient. But a new study indicates that, when used with tapwater, they may lower indoor air quality to dangerous levels.

V. Ross Highsmith and his co-workers tested indoor particle concentrations associated with use of a variety of home humidifiers using tapwater of average hardness and total dissolved solids. Within 24 hours, the ultrasonic devices filled a test room to a concentration in excess of 6,300 micrograms of fine mineral particles per cubic meter of air -- more than 40 times the recommended limit for respirable particulate matter set by the Environmental Protection Agency. Traditional "impeller" humidifiers generated less than one-third the amount of aerosol particulates; steam units generated no measurable increase in airborne particulates.

Until now, the researchers say, scientists believed that particulates emitted from humidifiers were too large to remain airborne, and so were not a potential health problem. But the new findings show otherwise, and suggest that "the particulate-induced discomfort to individuals with respitary problems such as asthma may completely offset the benefits of the higher humidity levels." Manufacturers recommend owners use distilled or demineralized water in the devices, the authors write in the August ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, but "most homeowners appear to be ignoring these warnings."

The researchers say the overall health impact of humidifiers depends largely on the quality of water used. They conclude that 90 percent of total water-dissolved compounds--including lead, aluminum and asbestos -- may be spewed by ultrasonic humidifiers as fine, respirable particulates, and may result in chronic respiratory problems.

Highsmith is affiliated with the EPA's Environmental Monitoring Systems Laboratory in Research Triangle Park, N.C.
COPYRIGHT 1988 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1988, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:indoor particulate concentrations associated with use of humidifiers using tap water
Publication:Science News
Date:Aug 27, 1988
Previous Article:Multiple C-sections not a labor waiver.
Next Article:Ancient-air idea may not hold water.

Related Articles
Is air pollution worse indoors than out?
An assessment of exposure to cyclohexylamine arising from steam humidification of indoor air.
Indoor air quality information must "be driven by good science."
Are indoor gases sickening microcircuits?
Long-term monitoring of mold contamination in flooded homes.
Airborne Fungi and Bacteria: Background Levels in Office Buildings.
Household Appliances Contribute to Indoor Air Pollution.
Indoor air quality assessment of daycare facilities with carbon dioxide temperature, and humidity as indicators. (Features).
School indoor air quality.
Clearing the air: a model for investigating indoor air quality in Texas Schools.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters