Can a Humidifier Cause Pneumonia?
“A properly maintained humidifier that is being operated when conditions are dry will not cause pneumonia or any other illness.
Quite the contrary, an accurately hydrated room or living space can reduce the risk of illness.”
Take a look at a couple of these research statements.
According to NIH, the National Library of Medicine” the indoor size of allergenic mite and fungal populations is directly dependent upon the relative humidity”.
Also: ” The majority of adverse health effects caused by relative humidity would be minimized by maintaining indoor levels between 40 and 60%.”
Another study from Sciencedaily.com states” when you sneeze and cough those smaller infectious aerosols can stay suspended in the air for longer.
That increases the exposure for other people. When the air is humid and the aerosols are larger and heavier they fall and hit surfaces quicker”.
The fact is that the viruses, bacteria, and fungi that cause pneumonia and other airborne transmitted illnesses cannot transmit nearly as easily when the humidity is kept between the ranges 40% and 60%.
But as you may have noticed, we put the emphasis on “properly” and “accurately” and the opening sentences of this article.
Because there are instances where humidifiers can be responsible for transmitting germs and fungi that can cause pneumonia type symptoms.
When can a Humidifier Cause Pneumonia?
A humidifier that is not properly maintained and that is operated when stagnant water has been allowed to sit in the humidifier before using it can transmit bacteria into the air.
When that air is inhaled, certain bacteria and mold spores can cause pneumonia-like symptoms.
Legionnaires disease, Pontiac fever, and humidifier lung are all illnesses caused by inhaling bacteria growing in water.
The symptoms associated with these illnesses all look suspiciously close to the symptoms that occur with pneumonia.
Fever, achy muscles, headaches, post nasal drip, coughing and sneezing, to name a few.
The dichotomy is that the same device that can help prevent the transmission of bacterial viruses is also the same device that can cause them when used wrongly.
The important takeaway is that a humidifier must be cleaned thoroughly and often to avoid any risk of it becoming a catalyst for airborne fungi and toxins.
And the truth is, it is very simple to clean a humidifier.
We suggest soaking the humidifier in vinegar once a week or so to ensure that there is not a chance of bacteria and mold taking root and becoming a problem. You can step up the process by purchasing “cleaning vinegar” which is about 25% more acidic than distilled.
How to Thoroughly Clean a Humidifier.
The process is simple.
1. Disassemble the humidifier
2. Fill the basin with a cup of vinegar and water, swish it around well and then let it soak for at least 20 minutes.
3. Soak all the smaller pieces from the humidifier in a bowl of vinegar for 20 minutes also.
4. Rinse it all out with warm water and allow it to dry completely before use.
New Humidifier Innovations
Humidifiers have moved on past the standard basic misting units that we are accustomed to seeing in drug stores.
Humidifiers in the modern age come with everything from hygrometers to measure your humidity and the capacity to switch back and forth between a vaporizer and a cool mist humidifier.
Luxuries like being able to fill the humidifier from the top as well as working as aromatherapy diffusers are also part of the norm of this new breed of humidifiers. Top Fill Humidifiers
And one of the most exciting features and innovations that is starting to creep up in the market is the use of different technologies to reduce the ability of mold and bacteria from growing in your humidifier.
A couple of these technologies are ultraviolet light and mode resistant plastic.
1. Ultraviolet light or UV for short is used in many industries to cool bacteria including targeting mold and fungi in aquariums and also as a way to disinfect Combs and scissors in barber shops.
The jump to humidifiers only makes sense. Some humidifiers that employ ultraviolet light like the Dyson model claim that they reduce mold and bacteria inside of a humidifier by as much as 99%. Pretty incredible.
2.Another exciting innovation being used in humidifiers is in the actual materials that the humidifier is made from. What I’m talking about is mold resistant plastic.
Imagine a humidifier made from materials that actually resist the formation of mold and bacteria. Also pretty Incredible.
3.Other innovations include additives that you place right into the water of a humidifier. Aqua stick is a product that you place right into the basin of your humidifier similar to putting a cleaning pod into the back of your commode.
Though it does not boast a 100% kill rate, it can reduce the chance of mold and bacteria from taking root in your humidifier for up to 90 days.
A good alternative to purchasing a new humidifier.
Can a Humidifier Cause Pneumonia?
“Yes a humidifier that is operated when standing water has been sitting in it can transmit bacteria and fungi into the air that can create symptoms of pneumonia.”
Diseases like Pontiac fever, humidifier lung, and legionnaires disease all originate from the inhalation of bacteria that is growing in water.
For this reason, keeping a clean humidifier is a must and should not be taken lightly.
On the flip side, a well maintained humidifier that is being operated when the condition of dry air ( below 40% humidity) is met can reduce the spread of the viruses, fungi, and bacteria that cause pneumonia.
Studies have shown that viruses are not able to travel nearly as far when the proper humidity level is kept.
According to PubMed, most species of fungi cannot grow unless the relative humidity exceeds 60%. Airborne transmitted infectious bacteria and viruses has shown that the survival or infectivity of these organisms is minimized by exposure to a relative humidity between 40 and 70%.