Maintaining RH between 40% and 70% will minimise the survival rate of viruses such as influenza and norovirus, and airborne pneumococci, streptococci and staphylococci. In addition, tests indicate the infectivity of the influenza virus is increased by both low and very high RH, with minimum infectivity at 50% RH.
When RH is persistently below 40% it causes moist tissues in the nose, throat and lungs to dry out, leaving the body susceptible to infections. Maintaining mid-range RH therefore also supports the body’s infection resistance.
In an operating theatre, dry air will increase the rate of evaporation from tissues, thereby exacerbating problems of dehydration. Low humidity can also result in static and the risk of ignition of medical gases and reliability of electronic medical equipment.
Humidity control commonly required in MRI scanner rooms, eye surgery operating theatres amongst other medical procedures.
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