How to Prevent Air Conditioners from Harming Your Health

  • By Hong Jun-ki

    July 25, 2018 13:06

    As the sweltering heat shows no signs of abating, more people are suffering the health hazards of air conditioning like colds, headache and muscle tension.

    The most common harmful effects are drying of the airways and colds. Bacteria or viruses often proliferate inside air conditioners in public buildings, and the resulting respiratory infections can even lead to pneumonia. Other bugs like gastric infections can also be spread this way.

    Headaches are the most common symptom. "When you freeze in an air-conditioned room, your body shivers to produce heat and muscles tense in the chilly air," said Prof. Kim Yong-hwan at Yonsei University's Severance Hospital in Seoul. "That can have all sorts of consequences."

    To prevent bacteria from proliferating in the air conditioner, clean the filter once every two weeks. Ideally an air conditioner should also be turned off for 30 minutes every hour and windows opened to let fresh air in, even if that increases electricity consumption.

    The best way to prevent the unhealthy effects is to set the temperature at a relatively high 25 degrees. "If you work in an office where it is hard to set the air conditioner to the temperature you want, take a long-sleeved shirt along," Kim said.

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