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What you should know before you buy a humidifier for your home...

Humidifiers are commonly used in homes to relieve the physical discomforts of dry nose, throat, lips, and skin. The moisture they add to dry air also helps alleviate common nuisances brought on by winter heating, such as static electricity, peeling wallpaper, and cracks in paint and furniture. However, excess moisture can encourage the growth of biological organisms in the home. These organisms include dust mites, which are microscopic animals that produce materials causing allergic reactions to household dust, and molds.

Several studies have shown that ultrasonic and impeller (or "cool mist") humidifiers can disperse materials, such as microorganisms and minerals, from their water tanks into indoor air. Proper care and cleaning of ultrasonic and impeller humidifiers are important for reducing potential exposures to microorganisms, such as bacteria and molds. Microorganisms often grow in humidifiers which are equipped with tanks containing standing water. Breathing mist containing these pollutants has been implicated as causing a certain type of inflammation of the lungs.

Using water with lower mineral content will reduce exposures to these materials.

The young, the elderly, and those people with lung diseases or respiratory allergies may be particularly susceptible to certain types of airborne pollutants. However, if you follow the recommendations for the use and care of home humidifiers, the potential for dispersal of microorganisms and minerals from your humidifier should be reduced.


Tips for the Use and Care of Home Humidifiers

  • Empty the tank, wipe all surfaces dry, and refill the water in portable humidifiers daily to reduce any growth of microorganisms.

  • Use water with low mineral content, such as distilled water, to prevent releasing minerals into the air.

  • Clean portable humidifiers every third day to reduce the buildup of scale and microorganisms.

  • If you use a cleaning or disinfecting agent to clean your humidifier, rinse the tank thoroughly to avoid releasing chemicals into the air.

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