DRI-STEEM Corp. (DriSteem), along with Jennifer Reiman, PhD, of the Mayo Clinic, working in collaboration with Integrated Science Education Outreach (InSciEd Out), has released findings from a pilot study investigating how indoor humidity levels affect transmission of respiratory viruses in a classroom setting.
Reducing the spread of these viruses is important for students at K-12 schools because research has shown that missing just ten percent of school days in a year for any reason predicts low student achievement. When viruses spread among students, teachers also tend to get ill and have to take sick days. Having to rely on substitute teachers too often can negatively affect lesson plans and is also expensive for schools. In addition, school budgets are based on average daily attendance, so a higher absenteeism rate can equate to less funding meaning that schools have less money to pay for essential classroom needs.
In this study, two classrooms were humidified with steam humidifiers donated by DriSteem, while two identical classrooms were not humidified. Air and surface samples were collected from all four classrooms for analysis in the Mayo Clinic lab.
It was found that steam humidification resulted in a reduction in the total number of influenza-positive samples in the air and on surfaces, viral copies, and viral infectivity. “This is exciting data, because we see that, in the humidified room, we’re reducing the amount of flu that we see in the air, which is the main way that flu is transmitted, and also on surfaces, the secondary route,” comments Dr. Reiman.