Headaches, sore eyes, skin irritations, sore throats, and discomfort from contact lens’ are all symptoms of an indoor environment that hasn’t got a high enough humidity level.
Unfortunately, as humans, we’re not all that well equipped to notice a dry atmosphere. We can detect the difference between hot and cold, can feel when we’re hungry or thirsty, but can’t pinpoint what a low relative humidity level feels like. Because of this inability we often fail to link discomfort or health problems we experience at work with low relative humidity levels.
Ideally the relative humidity in an office or indoor space should be between 40-60% relative humidity (%rH), a figure recommended by HEVAC, CIBSE, BSRIA and BRE. The Health and Safety Executive laid out in their Display Screen Equipment Regulations 1992 that employers should work to maintain a level of relative humidity that prevents discomfort and problems of sore eyes where people work at computer terminals for long periods.
Here’s the blockbuster fact though. Offices throughout the UK are often well below this level of 40-60%rH. Volvic, the bottled water company, did a study into 500 workplaces and found that one in five offices in the UK were as dry as the Sahara desert, with a relative humidity of only 25%. Even more shockingly and one in ten as dry as California’s Death Valley, with only 23% relative humidity!
You don’t have to work in a desert-like environment though. Dr. Virginia Lohr of the Washington State University has done a study that proves that plant transpiration in an office environment will create a humidity level exactly matching the recommended human comfort range. Through their natural process of transpiration and evaporation office plants will add moisture back into the overheated, dry, Sahara of a modern office environment and stabilise the relative humidity at comfortable levels.
Interested in improving the humidity in your office? Give us a call or send us an email, we’re always happy to help and give advice.