The mystery of dry indoor air - An overview

Tidsskriftartikel - 2018


"Dry air" is a major and abundant indoor air quality complaint in office-like environments. The causality of perceived "dry air" and associated respiratory effects continues to be debated, despite no clear definition of the complaint, yet, has been provided. The perception of "dry air" is semantically confusing without an associated receptor but mimics a proto-state of sensory irritation like a cooling sensation. "Dry air" may also be confused with another common indoor air quality complaint "stuffy air", which mimics the sense of no fresh air and of nasal congestion. Low indoor air humidity (IAH) was dismissed more than four decades ago as cause of "dry air" complaints, rather indoor pollutants was proposed as possible exacerbating causative agents during the cold season. Many studies, however, have shown adverse effects of low IAH and beneficial effects of elevated IAH. In this literature overview, we try to answer, "What is perceived "dry air" in indoor environments and its associated causalities. Many studies have shown that the perception is caused not only by extended exposure to low IAH, but also simultaneously with and possibly exacerbated by indoor air pollutants that aggravate the protective mucous layer in the airways and the eye tear film. Immanent diseases in the nose and airways in the general population may also contribute to the overall complaint rate and including other risk factors like age of the population, use of medication, and external factors like the local ambient humidity. Low IAH may be the single cause of perceived "dry air" in the elderly population, while certain indoor air pollutants may come into play among susceptible people, in addition to baseline contribution of nasal diseases. Thus, perceived "dry air" intercorrelates with dry eyes and throat, certain indoor air pollutants, ambient humidity, low IAH, and nasal diseases.


Wolkoff P. The mystery of dry indoor air - An overview. Environment International 2018;121:1058-1065.
doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2018.10.053

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