Air-conditioners are a necessity of summer.  Even if you only use it for a few days a year, it is worth its weight in gold for those hot humid days.  However, have you thought about how air-conditioners might affect your health? Health implications of air-conditioners depend on various factors such as your age and health, as well as the quality and condition of the air-conditioning unit.

During a heat wave, air-conditioning can help you sleep thereby reducing the risk of heat exhaustion and dehydration especially for vulnerable people (babies, elderly, or malnourished people).  It can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems or respiratory problems in people who are predisposed to these conditions.

Air-conditioners can also be helpful during allergy season.  For those who suffer from seasonal allergies, air-conditioners can help filter and limit exposure to pollen thereby reducing the impact of allergies.  However if your air-conditioner is poorly maintained it may contain a high concentration of pollen and dust causing your allergy symptoms to worsen.

If your air-conditioner is full of mould, this could cause problems for people with respiratory problems.  The mould releases spores into the air, which the AC would disperse throughout the building, affecting people with weakened immune systems, asthma, allergies, or other respiratory diseases.

Air-conditioners can also be home to various germs, viruses, bacteria, and fungus causing more problems for people with respiratory illnesses.

Asthma sufferers who find that cold air triggers asthma attacks or other symptoms may find the cold air from air-conditioners is a trigger.  In fact, prolonged exposure to air-conditioning can make asthma worse and can lead to lung infections.

Air-conditioning that is set too high of a setting can lead to various health issues including:

  • dry and irritated eyes, mouth, throat, or nasal passages
  • headaches
  • sore throat
  • Raynaud’s Disease
  • arthritis

Here are some tips for using your AC.

  • Use your AC with moderation.
  • Avoid major differences between the indoor and outdoor temperatures. Try to keep the difference within 8 degrees Celsius.
  • Keep your AC well maintained
  • Check for stagnant water in your cooling system.  Change the water often.
  • Read the AC’s manual and follow all instruction for proper use and care.
  • Replace or clean filters regularly.
  • If possible, choose a cooling system with an air purification system.