Experimental Determination of the Limiting Criteria for Human Exposure to Low Winter Humidity Indoors (RP-1160)

Wyon, David P.; Lagercrantz, Love; Lei Fang; Fanger, P. Ole
April 2006
HVAC&R Research;Apr2006, Vol. 12 Issue 2, p201
Academic Journal
Thirty subjects (17 female) were exposed for five hours in a climate chamber at 22 �C (71.6�F) to clean air at 5%, 15%, 25%, and 35% RH. A comparable group was similarly exposed to air polluted by carpet and linoleum to the 35% RH condition and to 18�C, 22�C, and 26�C (64.4 �F, 71.6�F, and 78.8�F) at an absolute humidity equal to 15% RH at 22�C (71.6�F). They performed simulated office work to ensure that they kept their eyes open and reported sick building syndrome (SBS) symptom intensity on visual-analogue scales. Nine objective tests of eye, nose, and skin function were applied. Subjective discomfort, though significantly increased by low humidity, was slight even at 5% RH. More rapid blink rates were observed at 5% than at 35% RH (P < 0.05), and tear film quality as indicated by the Mucous Ferning Test deteriorated (P < 0.05) at low humidity (5%, 15%) and at the highest air temperature 18 �C, 22�C > 26�C (78.8�F). Low humidity was found to have reduced the rate of performance of three office tasks by 3%-7%.


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