How Much of a Role Does Humidity Play in Spreading SARS?

My boss just told me to turn off the AC because it can spread SARS. If this virus needs moisture to survive wouldn’t it be better to leave the AC on or better yet a dehumidifier?

Was your boss referring to a central aircon system for an entire building? I think the point here is that there MIGHT be SOME evidence to suggest that SARS MIGHT percolate through buildings via central aircon systems. If he’s talking about a stand-alone model, he’s probably talking out of ignorance, bad news coverage and scaremongering of the Formosa type.


isn’t the air coming out an AC dry anyway??

And the the virus is spreading in Toronto too which is not too much of a moist place, no?


I don’t know about the humidity question, but cleaning the filters of aircons regularly is a good idea, and so is opening the windows from time to time. These are advised regardless of the size of the aircon unit.

I suggest buying an N95 mask and duck-taping it over the air outlet of the A/C. Might look a bit weird, but hey, they gobble up 95% of virises right?

My boss just showed up with a truckload of fans for our school. Air-con’s going off as of Monday. Our air-con is not central to the buildings.

Seems over-reactionary to me, but what do I know? They (employers) think I’m a rebel for not locking myself up in my home night after night.

Air coming from an A/C has lowered humidity but not 0% humidity, so perhaps as monkey suggested buying the N95 mask (for elephants) else do the Taiwanese thing and borrow one of Dolly Parton’s wonder bra and convert… to stop 96.5749855050950% of the virus

Other helpful suggestions:

Chop up a pineapple and push the slices through the A/C grill.

Hang a string of onions over the A/C (this may have the additional benefit of keeping away vampires as well as SARS)

Monkey, the The pineapples cracked me up.

Monkey, the pineapples cracked me up.

[quote=“Zen”]My boss just showed up with a truckload of fans for our school. Air-con’s going off as of Monday. Our air-con is not central to the buildings.

Seems over-reactionary to me, but what do I know? They (employers) think I’m a rebel for not locking myself up in my home night after night.[/quote]

Your boss is a fuckwit of the very highest order. Thanks for a jolly good laugh ! Have a nice sweat ! (Germs and bugs like warm damp environments - I would worry if I were you…)

If I put a dehumidifier in the classroom, would it help in stopping the possible spread of the contagion?

Sounds like some more of the Taiwan superstitious rubbish that will only get get more people killed. “I’ve got my herbal tea, I’m immune”

I’m not a virus expert, but I always thought that viruses don’t respire, they don’t eat, they don’t need water. It’s debatable if they are even alive, all they do is reproduce, that they can only do by invading another cell. Whether a virus could stay intact longer (or indeed less long) in a humid enviroment, or is easier or harder to spread. I don’t know.
Another thread mentioned ionizers, they might help.

I mentioned that hospital study which showed that ionizers dramatically reduce airborne bacteria. It seems, however, that most scientists agree that SARS is water-borne: present in droplets of water. While I know droplets of water can be very small (hence air humidity), it seems that doctors and scientists envision SARS as present in bigger droplets which would not remain suspended in the air but quickly fall to the ground or if sneezed or transmitted by hand to other surfaces would remain there for some time. That’s why they say that masks are not necessary for the majority of people. In addition, they did suggest for a while that SARS required moisture to survive and could not survive on a dry surface; I don’t know what current thinking is, however.

Anyway; supposing that SARS is not airborne, there would be no advantage to using ionizers, apart from generally cleaning the air of other bugs and pollutants (provided that the windows were kept closed!).

Those pineapples cracked me up as well.

So if I can keep the classroom completely dry, using a dehumidifier, the virus would have no place to live or at least become less communicable? Are there any studies or research on this?

I don’t think so, EOD. The scientists seemed to be saying that it is ALREADY not airborne. Anyway, the thing to watch out for would be students (and teachers?!) sneezing, touching things, not washing hands, picking noses, sucking thumbs etc. A dehumidifier wouldn’t change any of that.

Thanks, it was just a bullshit theory, like we don’t have enough of those.

That’s right. Toronto - being on the shore of a lake slightly smaller than Taiwan - is as dry as Arizona. Not. :laughing:

You can try and keep it dry but I doubt you can keep it 100% dry… it MAY reduce the places for the virus to live

Best thing is to try and stop the virus getting inside the classroom… try and contain it by keeping it out

I think they’re confusing SARS with Legionnaire’s Disease, which has repeatedly been linked to stagnant water in air conditioning systems.

Extremely dry air will tend to dry out your nasal passages and throat, which IIRC increases the risk of catching colds. The virus that causes SARS is a close relative of the various viruses that cause many colds, so it would probably find such conditions hospitable. Slightly-drier-than-outside air wouldn’t have this effect; individual-room wall unit type air conditioning should be safe.

Any sort of centralized ventilation system (whether providing fresh air, cooled air, or heated air) is probably a bad idea. IIRC, this is how they believe the disease was spread in that Hong Kong hotel, where the international outbreak to Singapore et alia kicked off. (The HK apartment complex, Amoy Gardens, where most of the early HK-local cases came from, apparently had its sewage system somehow mixing into its incoming tap water, which is why that building got hit so badly; the virus is in fecal matter also. The “patient zero” for that outbreak had diarrhea, and everyone in the building drank some of it thanks to their crappy water system.)

Wearing masks, bowing, and perhaps wearing gloves seem to be the way to go. Also washing hands frequently, and not touching heavily-used surfaces (doorknobs, public restroom faucets…). And if you’re in the habit of rubbing your eyes or nose frequently, break the habit.

JMHO, and YMMV. Good luck.