ABC’s Good Morning America collected ten humidifiers from different homes in the Philadelphia area and brought them to Thomas Jefferson University to be tested in the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory. Although humidifiers are known for their health benefits, the bacteria, mold, or worse, that could be developing in these machines can causing adverse health issues. Recently, consumer reports asked the United States Environmental Protection Agency to investigate claims that some humidifiers can prevent bacteria growth.
Dr. Amity Roberts, the Director of Microbiology at Jefferson, tested the humidifiers’ water tanks and vapor. She found all ten of the humidifiers had bacteria. Specifically, two had “heavy bacteria,” and three had mold.
Dr. Gregory Kane, the Chair of Jefferson’s Department of Medicine, told GMA he was surprised by the results and explained that, “mold can cause nasal congestion and sore throat. If the individual has asthma, it can cause chest tightness or wheezing.”
GMA correspondent Gio Benitez returned the humidifiers to each of the families, and told them of the results. Many were shocked to hear that their machine could be harboring such harmful bacteria, and vowed to change their cleaning habits.
According to the humidifiers’ manufacturers, humidifiers should be cleaned every day by emptying the water, cleaning the base and air drying before refilling it. Humidifiers should also be sanitized every week to avoid buildup.