Study: Humidifiers may aid in reduction of airborne flu viruses

LONDON and BOSTON A study sponsored by Kaz, the manufacturer of Vicks humidifiers, found that such devices as humidifiers may play a role in reducing airborne flu viruses in the home.

The study, "Modeling the airborne survival of influenza virus in a residential setting: The impacts of home humidification," was published in the open-access, peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health. The study examined the role of heat and humidity indoors and found that when homes are kept at the optimal 40% to 60% relative humidity level, airborne flu virus survival time decreases -- up to 30% for homes with radiant heat and 17% for homes with forced air heat. The researchers also suggested that since the water vapor levels in the air during the winter time are low, consumers should use a device known as a hygrometer to determine whether or not the humidity indoors is at an optimal level.

"Eliminating a considerable share of airborne influenza viruses through the use of a humidifier could be very beneficial to households this winter," said Ted Myatt, senior scientist at consulting firm Environmental Health and Engineering Inc., and biological safety officer at the Harvard Institute of Medicine in Massachusetts. "However, families should be careful not to go overboard with over-humidifying, because the optimal relative humidity range for indoor comfort and decreased influenza is between 40% and 60%."

Click here to read the full text of the journal article.

In related news, Kaz recently launched a Facebook page devoted to informing families about some of the best defenses against colds and the flu.

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