The purpose of this survey was to measure the thermal environment in a hospital during winter, and to investigate the subjective responses of patients and staff via a questionnaire. The air temperature and humidity in the sickrooms and nurse stations were measured for 3 months during winter. After 2 months, we introduced humidifiers into about half of the rooms and nurse stations as a method of improving the environment, and evaluated the effects of the installed humidifiers on the thermal conditions. In all, 36 patients and 45 staff members were asked once a week about subjective symptoms (dry and itchy skin, thirst, etc.). Before setting up the humidifiers, the existence of a low-humidity environment in the hospital during winter was confirmed, with the levels of relative humidity and humidity ratio reaching under 50% and 5 g/kg DA, respectively, which is known to promote the spread of influenza viruses. However, the introduction of the humidifiers increased the relative humidity in sickrooms from 32.8% to 43.9% on average, and the air humidity in sickrooms thus almost reached the optimum range suggested by the Hospital Engineering Association of Japan (HEAJ). Additionally, complaints of thermal discomfort and dryness of air decreased among the staff, though not among the patients, after the humidifiers were installed. These results suggest that introducing humidifiers into a hospital during winter is an effective method of improving the low-humidity environment and relieving the discomfort of staff members.
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