Home humidifiers; a source of Legionnaires Disease?

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Home humidifiers are an easy and relatively inexpensive way to increase moisture levels in your home. But some families worry that the risks outweigh the benefits.

Stephanie Stewart recently bought an portable ultrasonic humidifier. She says, "We get a lot of static build-up on our electronics, and you touch them and it zaps everything."

After turning it on, she noticed her house was covered in a yellow dust. She says, "At first I was fussing at the kids for not dusting, then I started to think about what that dust was doing to our lungs."

She turned off the humidifier immediately and cleaned it out. She says inside the machine, the water looked like pond scum, and it had a bad odor. Once she changed the water, the humidifier stopped spitting out yellow dust.

In extremely moist climates, using a humidifier can increase the risk of Legionnaires Disease. That's why some people worry that home humidifiers can put their families in harm's way.

But Mike Hejny with Haining Heating and Cooling says the climate in the Grand Valley is so dry that it's not really an issue here. He says, "We're so dry typically inside a house, we'll take a reading and we're at 30 percent. Around 40 percent is where our lungs want to be."

Dennis Rosette with Home Depot says that film is nothing to worry about. He says, "It's the minerals that are drying on the surface when the humidiy disapates." He says to cut down on the risk of releasing those minerals into the air, keep the humidifier clean, and use filtered water.

Stewart says she's learned her lesson and now keeps her humidier clean. She says her home is much more comfortable when she uses the humidifier. "We're not shocking things, we're not shutting computers down, I just have to remember to clean it out."


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