We’re all too familiar with what happens when the air is too dry. Chapped lips, dry skin, and a sudden and deeply unwelcome nosebleed are all signs of perilously low indoor humidity. This tends to happen in the winter, while the summer months bring the other side of the equation—high humidity. If your air conditioner hasn’t received necessary maintenance during its off-season, a poorly functioning AC unit could lead to escalating indoor humidity, which in turn can lead to allergic or even toxic conditions. Here are some of the dangers of high humidity in the home to watch out for as the mercury rises.
Volatile Organic Compounds
The chemicals used in treating furniture, housepaint, and building materials often contain volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. These compounds leach into the air, where, in sufficiently high concentrations, they can cause headaches, flu-like symptoms, or long-term damage to the nervous system. This process, known as off-gassing, occurs at its strongest in high heat and humidity. To slow the output of VOCs, keep humidity down throughout the house with a well-maintained HVAC system.
House dust mites are interesting creatures. These tiny but voracious eaters are content to gobble up human detritus like dead skin and hair while posing no direct harm to humans. Unfortunately, it doesn’t exactly work out that way—their waste matter contains enzymes that many allergy sufferers can’t bear. Dust mites thrive when humidity is high, but can’t tolerate hot and dry air. Laundering your bedsheets through a nice, warm dryer cycle should eliminate the dust mites that live in the sheets, but throughout the rest of the bedroom, keep the dust mite population in check with low humidity, good air conditioning, and a lack of outside humid air.
Mold and Mildew Growth
One glimpse at a poorly ventilated bathroom will make the dangers of high humidity in the home perfectly clear. Humidity promotes mold growth, which isn’t just an unsightly development along your walls and fixtures—it’s a hazard to your health. Inhalation of mold spores can cause persistent cases of allergic rhinitis in allergy sufferers, a condition that can cause debilitating headaches and congestion. Ensure that your air conditioner works at peak performance to lower indoor humidity.