The Importance of Humidity Control & Monitoring

Monitoring humidity in a laboratory is critical for several reasons, as it can directly impact the experiments, equipment, and the well-being of researchers.

Let’s discuss what humidity is. Humidity refers to the amount of water vapor present in the air referred to as absolute humidity. Relative humidity is how saturated a space or a gas is with water vapor. It is the most commonly used measure of humidity and is generally expressed as a percentage (%rh).

Here are some key reasons why humidity control is important in a lab:

  • Experimental Accuracy and Reproducibility
    Certain experiments, especially those involving sensitive materials or biological samples, may be influenced by changes in humidity. Maintaining a consistent humidity level helps ensure the accuracy and reproducibility of experimental results.

  • Instrument Calibration
    Many laboratory instruments, such as spectrophotometers, balances, and microscopes, are sensitive to changes in humidity. Fluctuations in humidity levels can affect the performance and accuracy of these instruments, leading to unreliable data.

  • Material StabilitySome materials, particularly those in powder or liquid form, can absorb or release moisture based on the surrounding humidity. This can alter the properties of the materials and impact the outcome of experiments or the stability of stored samples.

  • Equipment Performance
    Laboratory equipment, such as incubators, freezers, and analytical instruments, often have specified operating conditions, including humidity levels. Maintaining these conditions is essential for optimal equipment performance and longevity.

  • Sample Storage
    Humidity control is vital for the storage of samples and reagents. Improper humidity levels can lead to degradation of stored materials, affecting their integrity and usefulness over time.

  • Microbial Growth
    High humidity can create conditions conducive to the growth of molds, bacteria, and other microorganisms. This can contaminate samples, reagents, or even the laboratory environment itself. It poses a potential risk to both experiments and the health of researchers.

Monitoring and controlling humidity in a laboratory is critical to ensure the reliability of experimental results, the proper functioning of equipment, health and safety in the lab, and the overall success of scientific research and development.

Advances in monitoring, like the Traceable® Excursion-Trac™ Thermohygrometer or the Traceable® Temperature/Humidity Wi-Fi Data Loggers wireless capability have made it possible to accurately monitor and maintain humidity in many environments.