In order to understand why monitoring humidity is important, you need to understand what humidity is. Humidity is the amount of water vapor present in the air referred to as absolute humidity. Water vapor is the gaseous state of water and is invisible to the human eye. Relative humidity is how saturated a space or a gas is with water vapor. It is the most commonly used measure of humidity and is generally expressed as a percentage with the symbol “%rh.”
When people say the humidity bothers them more than the heat, they are referring to the fact that when there is a lot of water in the air, it feels thicker and hotter and less comfortable. Relative humidity is affected by the dew point temperature which is basically a measure of how much moisture is in the air. You have probably heard meteorologist talking about the dew point in weather forecasts.
Just like our comfort levels are affected, environments, too, can suffer the effects of humidity. According to the Environmental Protection, indoor air quality is one of the top environmental threats. Environments that store food, technical equipment like computers or data centers, or your home are susceptible to the negative effects of humidity.
- Preservation. Monitoring the temperature and humidity of a storage environment is a basic element in the overall preservation of materials. According to The Data Center Journal, too much humidity leads to condensation, which can then lead to corrosion or electrical shorts in environments such as data centers. Yet if there is too little humidity, there may be a buildup of electrostatic charge, causing static electricity. Equipment may be damaged or destroyed as a result.
- Processes. Because humidity affects the properties of air and all materials that come into direct contact with air, various manufacturing, storage, and testing processes are dependent upon humidity. Materials that must be stored are vulnerable to damage from their specific environments. For instance, industry regulations call for storage areas to maintain 30 percent and 60 percent relative humidity. If moisture levels rise or fall outside of this range, sterility of any medical equipment stored can be compromised and not suited for patient usage.
Measuring humidity in environments where there is a necessity to prevent and control corrosion, condensation, mold, warping, or other damage of materials for products like foods, pharmaceuticals and chemicals is critical. Yet managing temperature and humidity can be a challenging issue due to other day-to-day tasks that require immediate attention as opposed to long-term climate control. Advances in monitoring, like the Excursion-Trac™ Hygrometer, have made it possible to accurately monitor and maintain humidity in a number of environments.