A poorly maintained air conditioner might be more harmful to you than the summer heat itself.
With the mercury spiralling to 47 degrees, it is not a surprise that more and more people are spending most of their time inside an air-conditioned room. In this scorching summer sun, an AC feels more like a necessity than a luxury. Air conditioning can be life-saving during heat waves and ease the stress on your respiratory system. However, the cool air coming from a poorly maintained air-conditioner might be worse for them than the summer heat itself.
AC is not always harmful
Air conditioners and the cold air they produce are not harmful in themselves. In cases of asthma and other respiratory problems, ACs can help by reducing humidity and eliminating dust particles floating in the air. However, the problem arises when moulds, fungi, and bacteria meet air conditioners. “Unlike heating systems used in the winters, the process of cooling hot air creates a lot of moisture and condensation.
If the home and office environment is already a breeding ground for bacteria and if the operating space is not cleaned thoroughly and regularly, the AC will end up circulating the disease-inducing allergens that are already present,” says Dr Mark Mendell, an epidemiologist with California Department of Public Health. In spaces with central air conditioning like the office and malls, the allergies and infection from humans and other animals are also circulated through the air.
As these allergens are airborne, they will cause stuffy noses, sore throats, and in some cases, result in difficulty while breathing. The constant change for body temperature caused due to swinging between the summer heat and air-conditioned environment also impacts the immune system making it easier for you to fall sick.
How Can This Be Avoided?
According to Dr Mark Mendell, “If you have a badly maintained or badly designed AC system, whether it’s in your home or office or vehicle, it can become contaminated and potentially harmful. If your AC system does a bad job of this, due to poor maintenance, damage or shoddy design, it can become a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. To protect yourself, your best defence is a well-maintained and routinely serviced AC unit.”
1.It is not only important to keep the air conditioner properly maintained but also to monitor the environment the AC is being used in. Check for moulds and other bacteria pools. Clean the filters on a regular basis.
2.While living with pets, it is advised to use air conditioning along with air purifier to prevent allergy symptoms.
3. For spaces with central air-conditioning like office buildings and malls, wearing a mask can help if you are prone to allergies.
4. Blasting the air cooling can shock your body temperature and disturb your immune system making you prone to allergies and infections. Keeping your AC at 22-26 can make it easier for your body to switch between the summer heat and air-conditioned rooms.