Dr. Mark Mendell, an epidemiologist with the California Department of Public Health studied the health effects of air conditioning systems while with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He told Time.com that worsening asthma problems and allergies are two health issues that can stem from contaminated AC units.
“If you have a badly maintained or badly designed AC system, whether it’s in your home or office or vehicle, it can become contaminated and potentially harmful,” says Dr. Mark Mendell, an epidemiologist with the California Department of Public Health.
That’s because your poorly-maintained AC system can become a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. So be sure to routinely maintain and service your AC unit.
Ok, but can AC lead to more colds and flu, especially during the summer? According to science, no.
Common Cold Centre director Ron Eccles told Mic via email, “One could speculate that chilling and drying of the nose weakens defenses to infection, but there are no experimental studies on this published to my knowledge.”
The American Lung Association actually recommends people with asthma use air conditioners to promote air circulation, especially since indoor air pollution is wide-spread in most homes.
“Outdoor air pollution is common in urban environments, and especially in heavy traffic,” said Mendell. “AC filters out the particles in outdoor pollutants.”
And during a heatwave, AC can save lives.
Here are some appliance-related tips for reducing indoor air pollution in your home from WebMD.com
- Make sure your clothes dryer vents to the outside.
- Install and keep clean hood exhaust fans in your kitchen.
The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers recommends, “Control moisture in the home to prevent mold spores by maintaining relative humidity below 55 percent through appropriate use of heating, air conditioning and a dehumidifier.”