Almost everyone has been told to put a coaster under a cold beverage during a hot summer day by a parent or grandparent to prevent creating a water stain on a wood table. Unless the cup has a leak, these water stains are caused by a process known as condensation.
Condensation occurs when water vapor in the air is changed into liquid water. There is only so much moisture the air can hold and if the air is particularly humid, it can take only a slight drop in temperature for condensation to ensue.
In an indoor environment, serious condensation issues can be a real problem as they can result in property damage, the growth of mold and when caused by high humidity levels, could even signal the presence of large numbers of dust mites.
Having mold growing indoors and exposing building occupants to elevated levels of it in the air they breathe can lead to a number of health concerns. Molds produce allergens, irritants, and, in some cases, toxic substances known as mycotoxins. Mold can also trigger an asthma attack in some people and can cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP), a disease that resembles bacterial pneumonia. Some types of mold are also known to be pathogenic and can be a serious health concern for anyone with a weakened immune system. In addition, mold growing on building materials, furnishing and belongings can ruin and eventually destroy the materials.
Dust mites absorb water from the air and their environment and do not drink water so they thrive in warm environments with high humidity. Dust mites are a known asthma trigger and many people are allergic to their presence.
There are steps that can be taken to decrease humidity, help prevent condensation from occurring and to create a healthier indoor environment. They include:
• Venting appliances that produce moisture, such as clothes dryers, stoves, and kerosene heaters to the outside.
• Using air conditioners and/or de-humidifiers when needed to reduce humidity.
• Running exhaust fans or opening windows when bathing or when doing things such as cooking or running the dishwasher.
• Increasing ventilation or air movement by opening doors and windows when practical and using fans as needed.
• During cold weather, keeping the indoors warm throughout to avoid cold surfaces and be sure the building is properly insulated. Also cover cold surfaces, such as cold water pipes, with insulation.
• In addition, consider the fact that some indoors items, such as an excessive numbers of indoor plants or large fish tanks, can also increase the level of moisture in an indoor environment.
These are just a few things to know about condensation, indoor humidity levels, dust mites and mold growth. To learn more about this or other indoor air quality, health and safety, occupational or environmental issues, please visit the websites shown below.
Clark Seif Clark http://www.csceng.com
EMSL Analytical, Inc. http://www.emsl.com
Indoor Environmental Consultants, Inc. http://www.iecinc.net
LA Testing http://www.latesting.com
Zimmetry Environmental http://www.zimmetry.com
Healthy Indoors Magazine http://www.iaq.net
Hudson Douglas Public Adjusters http://HudsonDouglasPublicAdjusters.com