WITH FRANCIS EZEDIUNO
Air conditioning has lately become the perfect exemplar of luxury and comfort. In this ultra- modern era, air conditioning is not only installed in homes, malls, theatres, vehicles and workplaces but also in medicals, hospitals and health centres.
The primary aim of air conditioning is keeping people’s comfort uncompromised and also multiplying respective business profits by charging extra taxes.
It is obvious that people who can easily afford ACs do not think twice before buying and installing ACs in their homes and offices.
However, a recent research on negative health effects of air conditioning has found that this sophisticated epitome of luxury and comfort has several health risks which can lead to many health issues.
Due to heavy pollution and extreme global warming, climates are getting extreme hot, especially the period preceding the rains are getting unbearably harsh and hot.
This is the sole reason why people are opting for air conditioning at their respective places to get some relief from scorching and blazing heat. But one needs to put into consideration why it becomes tough for people to bear the heat outside after getting out of the air conditioned homes and workplaces. That’s because the body stresses itself to adjust between two extreme temperatures thereby weakening the immune system.
What are the seemingly negative effects of air conditioning on our health?
As much of southern and northern Nigeria and most parts of the country rest under an extreme heat alert, many are looking for relief from the sweltering outdoor temperatures.
The on hand alternative for the rich and those that can provide it is to indulge in exposing themselves to compressed air from the air conditioner or air conditioning system and thus, they have these units installed in their offices, houses; which included bedrooms and parlours and even in their cars.
For those who cannot, the best alternative is to resort to ceiling, standing, table or wall mounted fans.
Hot and humid air blowing in from the Sahara desert cause temperature to soar into the low- and mid 30°C on an average day and to some, this may cause some level of uncomfortable situation especially when the almighty IBEDC strikes and power supply is cut off for hours.
Air conditioners across some states are undoubtedly working overtime, especially in these months preceding the first drops of rain but despite their welcomed relief from the scorching heat, air conditioners may not be the best option for a person’s health when it comes to cooling off.
OSUN DEFENDER examined the top five health concerns that surround the use of air conditioners in the tropic climate belt that Nigeria falls within.
Illness And Constant Fatigue
When a person is observed shivering at their place of work even in the humid temperature, that might be the reason for constant tiredness.
Research shows that people who work in over air-conditioned environments may experience chronic headaches and fatigue.
Those who work in buildings which are constantly being pumped full of cool air may also experience constant mucous membrane irritation and breathing difficulties.
This leaves the person more vulnerable to contracting colds, flu’s and other illnesses.
After a long days exposure to the AC, on getting home, some people would switch to fans which further compounds their health status.
The continual switching of cooling systems also impart on the body’s immune system.
Dry And Breaking Skin
The more the long hours spent in an air conditioned environment, the more the likely cause of the skin to lose moisture, a situation which makes people who have conditioned themselves to being in air conditioned spaces always make use of the aid of constant supply of moisturizers which in its end may begin to lead to one form of dry skin or other symptoms associated to skin breakage.
Adds To The Effects Of Chronic Illness
A typical culprit of this is the Central air conditioning systems that are known to enhance the effects of illness that a person may already be suffering from or have passed undiagnosed due in part to none presentation of symptoms.
The AC is notorious for increasing the symptoms of low blood pressure, arthritis, and neuritis, making pain management more difficult for those adamant on using their central air conditioners.
The Inability To Deal With Heat
Those who spend a lot of time in an air conditioned environment become increasingly more intolerant of hot summer temperatures.
A little time spent outdoors can be compared to staying in an oven.
This is mainly caused by the stress on the body from moving from a cool environment to the sweltering outdoor air.
A typical example in the mid day Nigerian sun is to experience itching and uncontrolled heavy sweating.
This intolerance of the heat has lead to an increase in heat-related deaths during heat waves, which now averages at 400 deaths each summer in many countries in the tropical climatic belt.
Though, the ACs installed in cars may be a saving grace while stuck in traffic on a hot day, they happen to be the worst offenders for circulating germs and micro-organisms that cause breathing problems.
Researchers have successfully found eight types of mould living inside 22 out of 25 cars tested.
Air conditioners are also known to circulate air-borne diseases such as Legionairre’s Disease, a potentially fatal infectious disease that produces high fever and pneumonia.
Air conditioning creates an artificial change in temperature which is unhealthy for human immunity causing weakening of immune system. People who frequently switch between extreme temperatures by staying inside home and office and later outside in scorching heat fall sick more frequently for no apparent reason.
According to researchers, people who spend more than 4 hours in air conditioning environment are more likely to get diagnosed with sinusitis infections, as the chilling cold air tend to harden or dry the mucous gland.
The negligence in cleaning the air conditioners can lead to accumulation of dust, bacteria and mold in the air circulating ducts which later on circulates infectious air causing skin irritations, redness of skin, itchiness and skin allergy which is another common negative health effect of air conditioning.