Air Conditioning and your health
How to ensure personal safety when using an air conditioner?
Today it is difficult to imagine an office block without an installed air conditioning system. Since the moment of its development, this device became popular all over the world, and its production became mass due to its relatively low cost.
Nevertheless, apart from some apparent benefits, including the maintaining of comfortable temperature and freshness in any room, air conditioners have several lacks, which can inflict harm to the life and health of a human. However, it is worth mentioning that some lacks became outdated due to technology development and some are completely made up and not confirmed by any official studies.
Risk of acute respiratory viral infection
The greatest and the most possible danger of an air conditioner is the risk of acute respiratory viral infection or tonsillitis and pneumonia in severe cases. This danger is more than possible and the studies of many scientists confirm it. The fact is that when a human body is exposed to cold air from an air conditioner after being at hot weather outside, the body starts cooling down rapidly. As a result, the body’s thermoregulation suffers and the risk of a disease grows.
But you can solve this problem if you simply refrain from using an air conditioner at its full capacity when it is not needed. Also, you must not stay under a cold air stream for a long time. A better decision is to direct the stream aside or to switch on the function of airflow distribution.
But the best you can do is to choose a right place to mount an air conditioner at the mounting stage. However, if an air conditioner has been already mounted or is located in your office, you can avoid catching a cold too.
Today some companies produce special air deflectors that direct airflow under a ceiling instead of directing it at a human. This surely slightly lowers cooling efficiency although such a solution is better than having rhinitis or back pain, while the weather outside is sunny.
You must not also set your conditioner to the lowest temperature when you come back from hot weather. You must do it gradually: firstly, set it at 25 0С and then lower to the comfortable human temperature of 21-23 0С.
Viral and bacterial shedding
A popular myth related to this problem says that if you stay under an air conditioner, you can come down with legionellosis. This disease is caused by the dangerous legionella microorganisms, which generate inside of the device.
However, the risk of this disease disappeared 15-20 years ago, and today absolutely different internal arrangement of a conditioner is employed. While the temperature of water within this internal arrangement is near 00С, legionella can live only with at a temperature of 30-35 0С. In addition, modern conditioners remove water quickly.
But the problem of allergens accumulating in conditioners and settling on filters along with house dust is not a fringe concern. For some time an air conditioner is able to complete this function on its own, but then it overfills and becomes the source of allergens and bacteria.
Cleaning an air conditioner is not difficult and you have to do it as the dust accumulates on it. You can check the level of accumulated dusk by opening the conditioner’s door. You must check it at least once a week. The cleaner the filters are, the better your state of health is.
Conditioners also have replaceable filters with a life cycle of one season. After usage, they must be utilized and replaced by new filters.
If you don’t plan to install new replaceable filters, you still must remove old filters from an air conditioner.
Another problem of air conditioners is fungus growth on a fan propeller. If the fungus growth occurs, a conditioner will emit a bad musty smell.
In this case, only the full cleaning of a propeller with antibacterial agents will be helpful.
Oxygen reduction in the air
The results of a human’s life activity are oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide exhalation. And an air conditioner can work with room air only by ensuring its circulation in a room.
Consequently, oxygen can’t enter a closed room, so carbon dioxide accumulates in it gradually. It may result in fatigability, yawning, and sleepy state.
Based on the research findings, carried out many years ago in different countries, it was established that every human needs 60 cubic meters of fresh air per one hour.
You can meet this challenge by a periodic air change through opened windows in a room. However, it is not recommended to use air conditioners when windows are opened because it can lower cooling efficiency. But you can reach a balance here by keeping windows opened for five minutes half-hourly.
Properly designed office buildings always have a ventilation system, including an outlet system, which removes the used air, and an inlet system, which supplies fresh air from outside. This system is frequently combined with a cooling arrangement, so it supplies fresh and cooled air.
Air ion reduction
Air ions are small positively or negatively charged air molecules.
Negatively charged air ions are beneficial for a human. Having an effect on a human, they transfer its charge to the human’s body tissues and increase the activity of tissues.
It improves lung ventilation, increases oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide evolution, lowers arterial pressure, and enhances fitness to work, general state and immunity.
The work of consumer electronics, especially monitors, computers and televisions, increases the emission of positively charged air ions and decreases the level of negatively charged air ions.
According to sanitary norms and regulations, the concentration of negative air ions in public spaces must not be lower than 600 ions per one cm3.For example, in a forest or at a sea this level appears to be 5000 ions per one cm3, and after a thunderstorm its concentration in the air may rise to 100 000 ions per one cm3.
This problem can be solved by the special devices called ionizers. People also call them Chizhevsky chandeliers. They make it possible to bring the ion level to a normal condition.
Currently, there are air conditioners with built-in air ionizers which provide the possibility not to buy a separate device and save a room’s space. These devices complete several tasks simultaneously: maintain a temperature and the level of ions in the air. There are also other conditioners which allow controlling air humidity.
A word conditioner derived from a word condition, in other words, it appears to be a device which brings the air parameters, including temperature, humidity, ionization and cleanness, to the needed condition.
To sum up, it is worthwhile to note that the improper usage of an air conditioner, including incorrect choice of its place or the lack of maintenance, can harm your health. But smart employment can turn an air conditioner into your friend, who will help you to endure summer heat.