Humidifiers are commonly used indoors to relieve the physical discomforts of dry nose, throat, lips, and skin reports the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The moisture humid ifiers add to dry air also helps to alleviate common conditions brought on by winter heating, such as static electricity, peeling wallpaper, and cracks in paint and furniture.

If not properly used and maintained, the EPA warns that excess moisture in the air from humidifiers can encourage the growth of biological organisms in a home or other indoor environment. These organisms include dust mites, which are microscopic animals that produce materials causing allergic reactions, and mold. The agency also states that microorganisms often grow in humidifiers which are equipped with tanks containing standing water. Breathing mist containing these pollutants has been implicated as causing a certain type of inflammation of the lungs.

To inform the public of these risks, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released a Safety Alert about how dirty humidifiers may cause health problems. In it, CPSC reports that breathing dirty mist may cause lung problems ranging from flu-like symptoms to serious infections. The CPSC Safety Alert also addresses exposure to minerals that can be released in the mist and settle as fine white dust. This dust may contain particles that are small enough to enter the lungs.

“For people concerned about potential indoor environmental quality (IEQ) issues caused by humidifiers, there are ways to measure the indoor humidity and test for mold, bacteria, dust mites, and any minerals that have settled,” said Joe Frasca, Senior Vice President of Marketing at EMSL Analytical, Inc. “At EMSL, we offer air, surface, dust, and water testing for these and other common IEQ problems. We also carry real-time air monitoring instruments to measure humidity levels and other conditions to help optimize indoor conditions.”

EMSL recently sponsored an educational video with tips to reduce the dispersal of microorganisms and minerals from humidifiers that can be seen at:

To learn more about this or other indoor environmental quality laboratory testing services and supplies, please visit, email or call (800) 220-3675. To access easy-to-use IEQ test kits, visit

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