The Costly Effects of Low Humidity In The Office

Damage To Office Furniture
Desks, chairs, tables and other furniture made of wood is susceptible to damage in environments with low humidity. If there’s not enough moisture in the surrounding, wooden furniture may warp or even crack. Wood is incredibly porous, containing thousands upon thousands of small holes that are used to absorb moisture. This natural mechanism is used by trees in the wild to stay hydrated, and the same principle holds true for wooden furniture.

Of course, too much humidity is also bad, as it causes wooden furniture to rot. This is why it’s important for offices to invest in a proper humidity control system.

Static Electricity
Ever notice how static electricity is more common during the winter? This is due to the fact that winters are characterized by lower levels humidity, which subsequently increases the risk of electrostatic discharge (ESD). You might run your feet across the floor only to notice a slight shock the next time you touch a metal doorknob.

ESD typically isn’t a threat in the average family’s home, but it can result in costly damage in the office. Even small amounts of static electricity can literally fry delicate computer components like RAM, processors, graphics cards, and motherboards, as well as peripherals like printers and external drives. Maintaining proper humidity levels in the office will reduce the risk of such damage occurring to computers and other electronic devices.

There’s a direct correlation between humidity levels in the office and the comfort of workers. Low humidity often creates the feeling of being cold. The moisture on a person’s skin will evaporate in low-humid environments, subsequently creating a cooling effect. So even if the office thermostat is set to a comfortable 72 degrees Fahrenheit, low humidity can make it feel like 68 degrees or below.

Increased Chance of Illness
You might be surprised to learn that working in an environment with low humidity levels can increase your risk of getting sick. Humidity keeps your mucus membranes moist, allowing the filter the air you breath. When there’s not enough humidity in the air, however, these membranes will dry out and crack, creating open wounds in which germs can enter the body.

The correlations were surprisingly strong. When absolute humidity is low, influenza virus survival is prolonged, and transmission rates go up,” said Jeffrey Shaman, an atmospheric scientist at OSU. “In some areas of the country, a typical summer day can have four times as much water vapor as a typical winter day — a difference that exists both indoors and outdoors. Consequently, outbreaks of influenza typically occur in winter when low absolute humidity conditions strongly favor influenza survival and transmission,” he added.

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