Is The Relative Humidity (RH) In Your Office Making You Sick?

During the cold winter months buildings are closed up tighter with less outside air being introduced into the buildings, resulting in an increase in various indoor air pollutants. While such a scenario may have some validity in homes and buildings that do not have mechanical ventilation, the same cannot be said for all buildings.

An Indoor Air Quality expert in the New York area collected and analyzed the air quality data from over 125 different “Class A” commercial buildings located in the Metropolitan New York region over a five year span. For most of these buildings, air quality testing was performed two to four times a year for many common parameters including carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), total volatile organic compounds (TVOC’s), temperature and relative humidity (RH). In analyzing the extensive amount of data gathered, more than 18,000 readings for some of the parameters, various averages and trends were computed.

When the data collected in the spring and summer months was compared to that which was collected in the fall and winter months, a number of somewhat surprising discoveries were made. As can be seen in the table below, there was virtually no difference between the average spring/summer and fall/winter concentrations for most of the parameters which were tested for.

Parameter Spring/Summer Fall/Winter Applicable Guideline Limit
CO2 614.5 ppm 619.1 ppm 700 ppm above outdoor levels
CO 1.45 ppm 1.72 ppm 9 ppm
TVOC’s 1.25 mg/m3 1.21 mg/m3
Temp. 73.9 F 74.3 F 74-78 F summer/68-75 F winter

A significant difference in indoor RH levels with regards to the seasons was noticed. In the spring and summer months, RH levels were found to average nearly 42 percent. In the fall and winter months, though, RH levels averaged under 29 percent, with over half of all the readings below 30 percent and levels as low as 9 percent recorded in some buildings. Low RH levels have been reported to increase the incidence of upper respiratory infections (i.e., common colds) and to cause dryness and irritation of the skin. Other symptoms include dry and sore nose and throat, bleeding nose, sinus and tracheal irritation, dry scratchy eyes and inability to wear contact lenses.

Humidifiers can help to alleviate the symptoms resulting from low humidity, although they are rarely recommend if the problem is purely a comfort issue. Humidifiers, if they are not well maintained and the water changed frequently, can present a serious health risk to building occupants. Excess moisture levels, if left unchecked, can result in microbial growth on building materials. In addition, bacteria can proliferate in a humidifier’s water reservoir, resulting in endotoxins, which are present in the outer membrane of the cell wall of Gram-negative bacteria, being introduced into the indoor air. Exposure to low levels of these toxins can cause airway inflammation and cough, while acute exposures to high levels can result in flu-like symptoms. So when you hear that people “have been getting sick more often than usual”, realize that the problem is more likely than not due to low indoor relative humidity levels. Do not, however, automatically assume this is the problem. It is always best to properly monitor the levels of RH in the workplace and make proper decisions based on the results of these measurements.

Below is a list of some of the instruments that RH monitor, which are offered by Sper Scientific.

Indoor Air Quality Monitor – 800048

Datalogging Indoor Air Quality Meter – 800050

Indoor Air Quality Wall Monitor – 800051

Datalogging RH / Temperature Pen- 800013

Wireless Thermometer / Hygrometer with Remote Sensor- 900008

RH / Temperature Pen – 800012

Remote Alarm RH / Temp Monitor – 800039

Everything’s Bigger in Texas …Now That The Sper Team Is There!

The Association of Water Technologies (AWT) Annual Convention and Exposition continues to grow and grow each year—breaking previous registration records. AWT expects the same for the 2014 Annual Convention and Exposition being held in Fort Worth, Texas (Oct. 29-Nov. 1, 2014).

AWT is a non-profit trade organization representing nearly 500 regional water treatment companies throughout the United States and internationally. These full-service companies specialize in the application of water treatments for industrial and commercial cooling and heating systems.

2014 will mark the first time that Sper Scientific (Booth 331) has exhibited at AWT’s Annual Convention and Expo. Sper Scientific’s focus at the event is to help AWT’s water professionals optimize their processes and to demonstrate its lineup of innovative water quality products.

Sper Scientific delivers dependable, accurate water quality measurement devices to monitor the changes in water over time from seasonal variations, weather, as well as, man-made pollution. Whether you are in agriculture, aquaculture, industry, education, power generation, or municipal waste water, Sper Scientific offers you a complete line of water quality meters, to test the acidity, alkalinity, conductivity, dissolved oxygen (DO), Oxygen Reduction Potential (ORP), of your water.

See You In San Diego

Sper Scientific is pleased to announce that they will be exhibiting (Booth #5721) at the National Safety Council Congress (NSC) and Expo in San Diego September 15-17.  The NSC Congress & Expo ( is the world’s largest annual “must attend” event for safety, health and environmental professionals. For more than 100 years, professionals have turned to this event for industry-leading technology, education, networking opportunities and the tried and true products and services needed to stay at the forefront and remain competitive within the industry.

At NSC, Sper Scientific will be demonstrating its line of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) meters and monitors, Environmental meters, and Light & Sound meters.  This is first time that Sper Scientific has exhibited at this event.  Sper Scientific’s focus at the NSC Congress and Expo is to help environmental and safety professionals optimize their processes and to demonstrate its lineup of new and innovative environmental measurement instruments.

Since 1982, Sper Scientific has been a leading supplier of environmental measurement instruments used by science and industry to maintain EPA compliance, meet OSHA regulations, and measure a wide range of environmental parameters. Sper Scientific also offers NIST traceable instrument certification at its headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Four Cups? Not With Our Anemometer

An anemometer is a device used for measuring wind speed. The term is derived from the Greek word anemos, meaning wind, and is used to describe any air speed measurement instrument used in meteorology oraerodynamics. The first known description of an anemometer was given by Leon Battista Alberti around 1450. The simplest form in common use is the cup anemometer, which catches the wind with rotating cups, usually four. Cup anemometers are still used for wind, power performance evaluations and site calibrations.

An anemometer is also a common instrument used in HVAC. Specifically for indoor air quality and HVAC / R technicians measuring Heat / Ventilation / Air conditioning / Refrigeration wind flow and temperature in residential, commercial and industrial air conditioning systems. Data Centers and other hi-tech manufacturing operations use anemometers to insure that the air flow is sufficient to maintain proper temperature or cleanliness of the facility.

The Sper Scientific Model 840001 Datalogging Anemometer automatically records up to 16,000 data points in the field, along with time and date. This data can later be downloaded to a computer with the included software or logged in real time. The software also enables real time data logging directly from the anemometer to the computer. The microprocessor calculates air volume (CFM) as well as air velocity and min/max and simultaneously displays air temperature in ºC or ºF. Also reads type-K or J thermocouple probes. Features a calendar/clock, auto power off, and hold functions. This well-made anemometer has a detachable probe, fold-out tripod and a large easy to read LCD. Comes ready to use in a protective foam lined carrying case complete with metal vane anemometer probe, software, RS232 computer connection cable, 4 AA batteries, and a 3V button cell battery.