Room Humidifiers - Health Concerns
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is alerting consumers to possible health hazards resulting from dirty room humidifiers. The CPSC has found that bacteria and fungi often grow in the tanks of portable and console room humidifiers and can be released in the mist. Breathing dirty mist may cause lung problems ranging from flu-like symptoms to serious infection. This information is of special concern to allergy or asthma sufferers whose symptoms may be increased.
Film or scum appearing on the water surface, on the sides or bottom of the tank, or on exposed motor parts may indicate that the humidifier tank contains bacteria or fungi. A crusty deposit or scale may also form within the tank or on parts in the water. This scale is composed of minerals that have settled out of the water creating a surface on which bacteria or fungi may grow.
Minerals can also be released in the mist and settle as fine white dust. This white dust may contain particles that are small enough to enter the lungs. The health effects from inhaling this humidifier dust are not clear, any impact on human health will depend upon the types and amounts of minerals found in the water used.
To reduce the possibility of health hazards from dirty room humidifiers, the staff of the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that you take the following precautions:
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission