[Sponsored] How Humidification Can Reduce Virus Spread in Senior Living Communities | #seniorliving | #elderly | #seniors
With the onset and progression of the
COVID-19 pandemic throughout 2020, senior living providers implemented many new
environmental protocols and protections across their communities from surface
cleaning to air purification.
But cleaning and purifying air only addresses the new air coming into a space and cannot clean the air that is already there, where coughing and sneezing happen. In all living spaces, the air is continuously picking up contaminants (i.e. virus particles) from people and the environment, so ensuring proper levels of humidity can vastly improve the safety of the environment for senior living residents. Humidification does this by optimizing individuals’ internal respiratory defenses and otherwise limiting the spread of airborne viral material.
Further, attention to relative humidity
(RH) can create a healthier environment for all operating within a community’s
“Healthy levels of humidification can help
to reduce the spread of the virus and in particular to protect staff, patients
and residents, many of whom are our most vulnerable population,” says Duncan
Curd, Global Business Development leader for DriSteem, a global provider of
humidification systems, in a recent webinar.
In fact, research shows that when a room’s
RH drops below 40%, incidents of respiratory illness increase. Indoor
environments are usually between 20-30% RH, which is inadequate for protection
against viruses like COVID-19. By approaching senior living environments with
attention to humidity, operators can create healthier environments, reduce the
spread of illness including COVID-19, and achieve efficiencies and cost
Why humidity matters
A healthy level of humidity in the range
of 40-60% RH reduces the level effectiveness that a virus has, studies show.
Relative humidity describes the amount of moisture in the air at a certain
temperature compared to what the air can “hold” at that temperature.
This 40-60% RH level also supports the
body’s natural resistance to viral infection by allowing its built-in barriers
and self-clearing respiratory functions to thrive. Further, at optimal humidity
levels, aging residents can reduce many common ailments such as cracked skin,
static shock, and allergy triggers — essentially occupant discomforts that can
be common in communal living environments.
Preventing viral transmission and other infections with humidification
Humidification protects the body from a
range of discomforts, but most importantly for long-term care and skilled
nursing residents, it can significantly reduce the spread of viral infection,
among other potentially life threatening infections.
Most critically during the pandemic,
humidification can help to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. It can also
support senior living environments during the annual flu season, and can reduce
bacterial infections such as bacterial pneumonia, C. Difficile, medicine
resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) — all common and sometimes life
threatening conditions among senior living residents.
With respect to flu transmission, a 2016
pilot study conducted by Jennifer Reiman, PhD of the Mayo Clinic tested the
hypothesis that “increasing RH to 40 to 60% in school classrooms would reduce
the capacity of influenza to survive on surfaces or spread between classmates
In the pilot study findings,
humidification of the classroom environment reduced flu-positive samples in the
air, on surfaces, and led to fear viral copies and infectivity.
“This is the first prospective study suggesting that exogenous humidification could serve as a scalable NPI [non-pharmaceutical intervention] for influenza or other viral outbreaks,” the
pilot study concluded.
Incorporating humidification in senior living settings
There are several options for
incorporating humidification into community settings, from single-unit
electrode humidifiers to steam dispersion options that are installed in or near
the central air handling system and operate through the community’s duct
system. DriSteem offers an electrode humidifier, for example, that is equipped
for single-room humidification, which can be wall mounted with steam dispersed
directly into a resident’s unit.
The company offers a broad range of
commercial and industrial options that can serve buildings of all kinds.
DriSteem’s gas-fired GTS® humidifier LX series offers high efficiency and PVC
venting which can help keep installation costs low.
In contrast to single-use protective
measures against viral spread such as hand-sanitizer and masks, humidification
systems can have a lifespan of 20 years.
Humidification and the future prevention of viral spread
The pandemic brought to light many of the
serious concerns around viral spread in senior living communities, and the
degree to which viruses can spread rapidly in these settings. A targeted
approach to humidification can help senior living communities reduce the spread
of virus not only during the pandemic, but for years to come.
To learn more about DriSteem and how
humidification can work to improve the safety of your senior living community,
visit DriSteem’s resources on Humidification in Senior Living.
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