Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 5: Facilities, Supplies, Equipment, and Environmental Health

5.2 Quality of the Outdoor and Indoor Environment

5.2.1 Ventilation, Heating, Cooling, and Hot Water Maintenance of Humidifiers and Dehumidifiers

If humidifiers or dehumidifiers are used to maintain humidity, as specified in Standard, the facility should follow the manufacturer’s cleaning, drainage, and maintenance instructions to avoid growth of bacteria and mold and subsequent discharge into the air.
Bacteria and mold often grow in the tanks and drainage hoses of portable and console room humidifiers and can be released in the mist. Breathing dirty mist may cause lung problems ranging from flu-like symptoms to serious infection, and is of special concern to children and staff with allergy or asthma (1). Humidifiers or dehumidifiers may be required to meet American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) humidifier standards and must not introduce additional hazards.
Improperly maintained humidifiers may become incubators of biological organisms and increase the risk of disease. Film or scum appearing on the water surface, on the sides or bottom of the tank, or on exposed motor parts may indicate that the humidifier tank contains bacteria or mold. Also, increased humidity enhances the survival of dust mites, and many children are allergic to dust mites.
Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Indoor Temperature and Humidity
  1. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). CPSC issues alert about care of room humidifiers: Safety alert–dirty humidifiers may cause health problems. Document #5046. Washington, DC: CPSC.