HIGH HUMIDITY’S IMPACT ON COMFORT and HEALTH
Nursing home workers and residents comfort perceptions and needs are quite different due to a phenomenon commonly referred to as “metabolic mismatch.”
Elderly people often suffer from circulatory problems and degradation of their thermal sensing and control mechanisms, both of which diminish their ability to regulate body temperature. Generally, they’re less active, have lower metabolism and therefore produce less body heat.
On the other hand, hard-working nurses and housekeepers have higher metabolic rates and produce much more heat than the residents they serve. They must rely more on evaporation (perspiration) to supplement their bodies’ release of heat by convection and radiation.
Nursing home living spaces are cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis to reduce odours caused by incontinence, minimize microbial growth, and reduce the risk of infection. This frequent cleaning adds to internal latent loads which, along with large outdoor ventilation air volumes and infiltration, can cause humidity to rise, especially during spring and summer.
High humidity levels promote growth of mould and mildew, which release odours and mycotoxins as well as other particulate matter.
These are believed to create and/or aggravate allergies and other health problems in susceptible individuals, especially the elderly who have reduced respiratory capacity.
Humidity is a key factor affecting death rates for the over 70’s
High humidity can increase the risk of a heart attack in the elderly even in relatively mild climates, according to the study “Climate Impacts on Myocardial infarction deaths … : the CLIMATE” recently published in The Heart Journal.
Scientists studied deaths by heart attack and found that humidity was one of the most important factors influencing average monthly death rates for people over 70.
Invest in dehumidifiers for the comfort of your family