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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Indoor Humidity and Human Health--Part I: Literature Review of Health Effects of Humidity-Influenced Indoor Pollutants


Standards for indoor thermal conditions and ventilation include upper limits for relative humidity (RH) that typically are in the range of 60% to 80% RH. Although the reasons for the limits are often not explicitly stated, it is generally known that they were set out of concern for the health effects that might occur should the humidity become too high. The primary health effects of high humidity are caused by the growth and spread of biotic agents, although humidity interactions with nonbiotic pollutants, such as formaldehyde, may also cause adverse effects. This literature review identifies the most important health issues associated with high humidities and presents humidity requirements, typical contamination sites within buildings, and remediation measures for each pollutant. Part two of the paper addresses the physical causes of moisture-related problems in buildings.

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