Air Conditioners: How Bad Are They for Your Health?

Air conditioning can help us to feel healthier and fresher on a hot day and generally it’s not something we think of as being unhealthy. While air conditioning can have benefits though in preventing us from feeling hot and stuffy, actually they unfortunately do have a number of negative impacts on our health and it’s important that we consider these before we use them in our homes or businesses. Here we will look at the negative impacts of air conditioners, and how to limit the damage as much as possible.

Negative Health Effect of Air Conditioning

The first problem with air conditioning is that it circulates the same air around the room repeatedly. This then means that if someone coughs or sneezes, that germ is then going to stay in the air and get to travel all the way around the office for the rest of the day. Over time more and more people will sneeze leading to a build-up of bacteria that means you’re more and more likely to breathe something unwanted in. Because you’re contained in a small room this then means that the overall bacteria content of the room is going to go up to a large degree – and the same is similarly true of dust (most of which is made up of dead skin) and allergens.

These dust particles can make breathing difficult as they mean we are having to filter more than just air when we breathe in. At the same time though, they will also cause more trouble by absorbing the tiny droplets of water and moisture in the air which will result in the air becoming much drier and more difficult to breathe. This dry air can also cause other problems like dried out skin and eyes.

Types of Air Conditioner

However it is worth noting that there are different types of air conditioner, and being discerning with your choice as well as using them correctly and being sure to maintain them can help you to avoid health problems.

For one, some air conditioners will actually clean using a disinfectant as they circulate it – making the air much cleaner. Air conditioning for instance is used in operating theatres and here it uses a chemical disinfectant to remove bacteria from the environment.

Likewise, to prevent the spread of dust, air conditioners will use filters and the more effective these are the less dust will be re-circulated into the environment. This is why it’s so important to replace your filters from time to time and to clean them out which will ensure they stay as effective as possible and also improve the efficiency of the unit. Likewise if your air conditioning uses air vents then it’s highly important that these are regularly cleaned out.

It’s also possible to use air conditioners that are known as ‘split units’ or ‘window units’ which only work for one room, but do so by sitting halfway in and halfway out of a window and circulating clean air in from outside.

Measures You Can Take

Whatever air conditioning you use there are lengths you can go to to limit the damage. For instance you should bear in mind that in order for pathogens to be circulated by your air conditioning they need to exist in the room to begin with. If you keep your room clean and regularly dust and wipe your surfaces, as well as sending home ill staff if you’re in an office and getting people to hold their hand in front when they sneeze, you can greatly limit the problem.

Meanwhile, you might also benefit from using a humidifier in the same room to make sure that your room air doesn’t get too dried out. These use a sensor to measure the humidity of the room, and will then distribute water droplets throughout the environment only when they are needed.

It’s important not to use air conditioning unnecessarily, and you need to consider before you use it whether it might not be better to just open a window or take off a layer…


  1. Good info that most people are unaware of.

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Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki is a full time writer who spends most of his time in the coffee shops of London. Adam has a BSc in psychology and is an amateur bodybuilder with a couple of competition wins to his name. His other interests are self improvement, general health, transhumanism and brain training. As well as writing for websites and magazines, he also runs his own sites and has published several books and apps on these topics.

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