|THE PROBLEMS FROM VERY DRY AIR
METEOROLOGIST JEFF HABY
Dry air can pose many problems. Dry air is air with a low relative humidity and a low dewpoint. It is the
winter season that the air tends to be driest because as this air is heated and brought inside it
has a very low humidity. Air can also be dry during hot conditions when the dewpoint is low. Dry air
can have impacts on the health which will be discussed in this essay.
When the humidity is low the rate of evaporation from skin is increased. Wind will also enhance the
evaporation rate. Windy low humidity air can quickly dry the skin. In these conditions it helps to have
chap stick, skin moisturizers, and less exposure to the wind. Some climates are much drier than others.
People will often feel the greatest impact from dry air when they visit a very dry place when they live
in a place that tends to be moist. Skiers and hikers often have a drying of skin and lips since these are
done in often dry and windy places. Moist climate people visiting a place like Las Vegas will notice
how much drier the air and their skin feel. It is important to drink more water when in a dry place when the
skin is losing more moisture to the air.
The cold and flu season is in the cold part of the year. Why is this? One theory is that germs spread
more efficiently in dry air. In the winter the inside of buildings tend to have a very low humidity. Also,
when the body has to deal with cold air when outside it can lower the bodies immunity to germs. Another theory
of cold and flu outbreaks increasing in winter is due to all the traveling people do over the Thanksgiving
and winter holidays. This helps move germs throughout the country and people come in contact with many
different people. It is those with the weaker immune systems that tend to have the most cold and flu
problems during the winter. Below is some advice to try to reduce the chances of getting the cold or flu:
1. Stay inside during cold weather. When you do have to go outside dress very warmly.
2. Do not touch your hands to your face. Wash hands frequently especially after coming inside. Door
handles are a favorite place for germs to spread.
3. Talk to you doctor about getting a flu shot. Certain people such as those with weaker immune systems
can benefit most from a flu shot.
4. Germs can be spread when people are in close quarters and coming into contact with many people. Be mindful
of germs spreading in these situations.
5. Talk to your doctor about medications that help reduce the severity of the cold and flu
If you have a recurring problem with dry air in the home then consider using a humidifier. A humidifier can
take much of the static out of the air and will reduce the chapping of your skin and lips. Skin
moisturizes can help while outside of the home where a humidifier is not present.
In conclusion, dry air can cause health problem but fortunately there are methods to deal with it.