Handling the risks of high home humidity

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Keeping relative humidity levels low is the best way to reduce dust mites and mold growth in your home.

Keeping relative humidity levels low is the best way to reduce dust mites and mold growth in your home.

A few simple steps can help you avoid a common situation that could put a damper on your indoor fun and good feelings.

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The problem
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, health problems associated with poor indoor air quality include eye irritation, allergies, headaches, and respiratory problems such as asthma. These can be directly related to the presence of mold and dust mites in the home.

Research has found that common household dust mites may be a factor in as many as 80 percent of asthmas, hay fevers and other allergic ailments. Along with respiratory symptoms, high levels of dust mite allergens have also been correlated with atopic dermatitis, characterized by itchy, irritated skin.

Dust mites are microscopic but hardy creatures that live and multiply easily in warm, humid places. They thrive at temperatures at or above 70 degrees with a relative humidity of 75 percent to 80 percent, but, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, you can reduce dust mites if you keep your home’s humidity below 50 percent.

Mold is a fungus that feeds on organic substances and survives in moist conditions. Besides causing allergies, they produce harmful chemicals such as VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and mycotoxins. Health hazards from mold include coughing, wheezing, running eyes and nose, skin rashes, muscle aches, loss of appetite, inability to concentrate, and fatigue.

The signs
While some evidence of excess moisture may be obvious, such as condensation on windows, often-times, they are hidden in the crawl spaces and basement of the house. From there, this polluted air eventually moves into the rest of the house, often carrying odors, contributing to poor indoor air quality and causing uncomfortably high humidity levels. Studies show that as much as 50 percent of the air in a home comes from these below-grade areas.

A solution
One answer is effective moisture control. Dehumidifiers can reduce the risk of serious health issues by controlling moisture levels in the home.

Several organizations, including the Environmental Protection Agency, American Lung Association, and American Medical Association, recommend using dehumidifiers to maintain humidity levels of 50 percent or less indoors.

The high-capacity dehumidifiers from Santa Fe are the most energy efficient around and de signed to effectively operate in the cooler temperatures of a basement or crawl space while helping to maintain the structural integrity of the house.

For further information, visit www.DehumidifierSolutions.com. North American Precis Syndicate

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