With winter, indoor air becomes drier, leading to a greater opportunity for cold and flu germs to circulate freely. Combine this with closed up spaces and heating systems circulating dusty warm air, and you have the ideal environment for winter illnesses to thrive.
Dry indoor air itself doesn’t get you sick. But it may play a role in letting aerosol droplets from a sneeze survive and prosper. Researchers at Tianjin University in China found students in dorm rooms with poor ventilation caught more colds. Additionally, researchers at Virginia Tech found that good ventilation, as well as high indoor relative humidity, renders the influenza A virus inactive.
Dry air outdoors, as measured by absolute humidity, may also be linked to flu outbreaks. According to The National Institutes of Health (NIH), dry winter air allows the flu virus to survive and transmit itself. Additional NIH research suggests that the flu virus’ coating becomes tougher at temperatures close to freezing, making them more active, more resilient, and easier to transmit in the winter.
Here are some solutions to keep indoor air healthier.
- Open the windows every now and then. On warmer winter days, fresh air can actually kill germs, flushing them from stuffy rooms.
- Get rid of poor indoor air quality at the source. Clean air ducts and replace furnace filters regularly to ensure to prevent germs from re-circulating throughout your home all season long.
- Use air purifiers. The best air cleaners can help reduce the cold and flu virus, especially in closed spaces. Air purifiers can also safely remove 99.97% of airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns, including pollen, ragweed and other allergens, viruses, germs, dust mites, mold spores, pet dander and cigarette smoke-all factors that contribute to compromised lung function and make anyone in a winterized household more susceptible to airborne germs. You may want to consider certain air cleaners which feature allergy and flu settings to help during flu season and also allergy season in the spring.
It’s also important to know that during cold and flu season babies are more susceptible to the airborne germs circulating in your home. In fact, babies breathe an average of 30-60 times a minute-that’s more than double the amount of an adult. Considering that a baby’s lung are not yet fully developed at birth, and with their faster breathing rate, respiratory illnesses can account for the most health problems among infants. Specially designed baby air purifiers kept in a nursery can aid with reducing airborne pollutants around a young child.