Air Conditioners and Health Issues

By: rsbombard
We are so concerned about the comfort that air conditioners provide us that we hardly ever look at what kind of health implications the air conditioners might have. However, if we spend some time on the topic, we can understand that air conditioners can be considered both as a boon and a bane, depending upon the circumstances. Let us consider the positive health implications of an air conditioner first.

These days air conditioners have a much improved technology and the basic principle in which it functions allows it to significantly improve the quality of the air. Through the various processes like filtration, humidification, cooling, disinfection etc. the air conditioner actually provides us with a much cleaner and safer air to breathe. So someone having severe allergic problems, would be much better of in a room air conditioned. People suffering from asthma would also be benefited. Even for operations that are conducted, the air conditioner allows a climate where the infections can be controlled and the environment would be safe for the patients. Without air conditioners, many critical operations would have been just too risky.

Places where we have severe heat waves, air conditioners can actually save the lives of the elderly. In fact, local authorities at many places actually build facilities with air conditioners so that those without ones can actually seek refuge in one of these shelters during the time of an acute heat wave.

However, air conditioning can also be held responsible for a few health problems. If the central air conditioning system in an office or in a home is not properly maintained, then it can actually facilitate the spread of microorganisms. These can include Legionella pneumophila, a microorganism responsible for Legionnaire's disease.

Air conditioning units can generate sounds to which when someone is exposed over a considerably long period of time can lead to the individual's hear loss. To provide an analogy, being exposed to the sound of an air conditioner constantly is like living near an air port or a busy highway.

There have also been claims, that excessive use of air conditioners can actually cause someone to grow fat. Some researchers maintain that with regulated temperatures our body stops adjusting to the temperature changes and since there is a cessation of effort on the part of our body we burn less calories and hence more fat gets accumulated. Such claims need to be clarified better.
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