We all must be thankful to Willis Haviland Carrier, for what he invented more than a century ago: electric air conditioner (AC). His invention lets us spend cool hours at home, in the office or in traffic jams even in the hottest days. But are we really using this invention the right way or are we making ourselves sick? Let’s look at the pros and cons of air conditioning.
Benefits of air conditioning
Air conditioning can keep the living environments at 20-27 degrees and 40-60% relative humidity, which are the ideal conditions for human health. This keeps us productive because every single degree above 25 Celsius decreases our mental and physical performances by 2% on average. Also, places with ideal temperature and humidity levels mean fewer germs.
AC devices also prevent our electronic devices from overheating, decreasing down-times. The ones with good filtration systems increase the quality of air inside by filtering out dust, pollen, germs, mold, cigarette smoke and bad odor.
Possible negative health effects of air conditioners
Exposure to direct air from the device can be risky in many ways. Leaving the air conditioner on full power while sleeping and not ventilating the environment are also wrong ways of use. Sudden changes in temperature and humidity can negatively affect your respiratory system. It causes drying of sensitive areas such as skin and eyes, and can cause noise pollution, allergic reactions, chronic rhinitis, pharyngitis, sore throat and hoarseness. Best practice will be slowly cooling the place, opening the windows frequently for fresh air and never using the AC device at its maximum power for too long.
AC devices can also be home for various microorganisms and fungi when they don’t have proper air filters or when you don’t clean them as told by the manufacturer. These microscopic creatures can be transmitted to humans and people with asthma, bronchitis and other lung diseases can easily develop lung infections, shortness of breath and whistling while breathing.
Some Diseases Caused by Air Conditioning
- Air conditioner shock
- Air conditioner fever
- Allergic pneumonia
- Cold, flu, sinusitis
- Bronchitis, asthma
- Ear, nose and throat inflammations
- Head and muscle aches
- Rheumatic diseases
- Legionnaires’ disease (Legionellosis)
Tips for using the air conditioner for best health
- The air blown by the A/C should not directly hit a person’s body at close range.
- Cleaning the filters at the intervals specified in the user manual and periodic maintenance of your air conditioner by authorized services are important both for your health and for the productivity of the device.
- Environments should be cooled slowly. Sudden temperature changes should be avoided.
- Room temperature should be kept between 21-25 degrees.
- Humidity should be between 60-70%.
- Nicotine and tobacco-containing substances such as cigarettes and hookah should not be smoked in air-conditioned environments.
- When the air conditioner is on, the environment should be ventilated by opening the windows from time to time and dry air should be prevented.
- Do not turn on the air conditioner while sleeping. However, if you have to use it through the night, do not sleep right in front of the air conditioner.