A new study has found that indoor air that is too dry or too humid can worsen the effects of Covid-19. Previous studies have shown that proper ventilation can reduce the spread of the virus, and now researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found that indoor relative humidity can affect the spread of the virus.

according to MIT News, relative humidity is the amount of moisture in the air compared to the total amount of moisture that the air can hold at a certain temperature before condensation occurs. as if Research Published Wednesday in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, the MIT team reported that maintaining indoor relative humidity between 40% and 60% was associated with lower rates of Covid-19 infections and deaths, while indoor conditions outside of this range had worse Covid-19 outcomes. Most people agree with 30% to 50% relative humidity and airplane cabins operate at 20% relative humidity in terms of percentage.

“There is a moderate indoor relative humidity barrier effect,” said lead author Connor Verheyen, Ph.D. student in medical engineering and medical physics at Harvard-MIT’s Department of Health Sciences and Technology.

The researchers analyzed data on the spread of Covid-19 and meteorological parameters from 121 countries from January 2020 to August 2020 and found a strong link between regional outbreaks and relative humidity. For each country, local Covid-19 measures such as isolation, quarantine and testing measures were tracked for statistical association with Covid-19 symptoms.

While most research on the spread of Covid-19 has focused on the virus’s worst outbreaks, the MTA team found that most communities spend 90% of their time indoors, where most transmissions occur. Indoor conditions can be very different from outdoor conditions, as climate control systems such as heaters can dry out indoor air significantly.

The researchers measured the outdoor and indoor humidity in different hemispheres. In the tropics, the relative humidity is the same indoors and outdoors throughout the year. However, in that region’s summer, when high outdoor humidity can raise indoor humidity by more than 60%, that increase reflects a gradual increase in the number of deaths from Covid-19 in the tropics.

“We saw more COVID-19 deaths at the low and high relative humidity end and in the 40 to 60 percent sweet spot,” Verheyen said. “This moderate relative humidity window is associated with better outcomes, meaning less mortality and less epidemics.”

The team’s series of studies showed that pathogens can survive longer in droplets stored in very dry and very humid conditions. Monitoring indoor relative humidity can provide another useful tool for proper ventilation, the experts concluded.

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