From our previous posts on piano humidifying systems, many here know that I consider the use of de-humidifying systems as appropriate. And that I have never encouraged the use of piano-specific humidifying systems, nor have I ever installed one. After our last discussions, I wrote the attached article for my customers itemizing my considerations for the use of piano humidifying systems (it is also on my Web site). I would appreciate your comments on my topic #1 (see below).
Do you consider the humidifying systems as having a potential health consideration that we need to bring to the attention of our customers? It seems to me that the chemicals added to the water will go into the air in the room that our customers (and we) breath. Have there been scientific studies on this topic?
The following is the first of eleven general considerations in my attached article:
1) Health Considerations. Piano humidifying systems have a water reservoir, and solutions are sold to be added to each water fill-up to avoid bacteria, mildew, mold, and perhaps other conditions associated with standing water. The chemical composition of the additives that I've recently looked at have warning labels for handling of the liquid and to keep it away from children, but I have not seen an analysis of whether there are air born particle health issues from ongoing use in a humidifying system. Contents listed that I've seen include (a) <1% of CAS #68424-85-1 (CAS being an American Chemical Society classification.), (b) Benzyl-C12-18-alkyldimethyl ammonium chlorides, (c) Quaternary ammonium compounds, Benzyl-C8-18-alkyldimethyl compounds, chlorides, and lastly (d) of both CAS 7732-18-5
and CAS 8030-78-2. I have done a little Web searching, including on the SDS (Safety Data Sheet) for CAS #68424-85-1, but I am not a chemist or physician and am reluctant to offer an opinion about safety. I would suggest that any potential consumer do their own research in advance of a purchase of a system that may put minute quantities of these types of chemicals into their home air.
Good to hear from you again. I've never had any health concerns with the pad treatments. The amount you add is so small and is diluted in the tank full of water. Yes, you shouldn't drink it, but you also shouldn't drink toilet bowl cleaner either - and that doesn't stop anyone from using it properly. When used per the instructions, it's just as safe as any other household chemical.
I noticed in your article you referenced the risk of electrical damage due to the power cord. There is a built in safety that will cut the power in the event of an electrical shock or power surge.
I don't want to dismiss your concerns, but I think a lot of them are fears of the unknown. Please take advantage of the training programs and knowledge the team at Dampp-Chaser has put together. They've literally spent decades researching and developing their products, and they're willing to share that knowledge. Plus, their office staff are some of the nicest people on the planet! Give them a call and take advantage of their resources.
Something does not compute. Room humidifiers and whole house (expensive) systems both have chemicals added to the pads or water. And for an un-tested for safety problem, why did you take the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine!
Norm ... just about everything today has a warning label. Believe it or not one of the most hazardous place in your house is under the kitchen sink where there are all sorts of cleaners in spray cans. The pad treatment for Piano Life Saver systems helps prevent bacteria and nasties forming in the standing water tank and on the wet pads. I do not think there is any real issue about the moist air given off and I doubt there is a wide dispersal pattern. There is a deflector shield as well. Far more serious may be the neglected water tank with dried out old pads, standing water, failure to add pad treatment. Dampp Chaser has improved their systems adding the tank liners, smart heater sleeves, clear fill tubes, gone back to the blue treatment pads, quick disconnect for grands.
The one big thing I warn clients about and ask about is sensitivity to CA glues when I treat pin blocks. Because of the quantity and concentration of fumes it could be problematic. I will use fans, open a window and have clients go to a different location in the house . For my own protection I use nitrile gloves, splash goggles and a VOC respirator.
I see warning labels on nearly every product under the sun that in California it may cause cancer. (Don't quite understand why it doesn't do this in other states...but what do I know anyway?)
Since you asked for opinions, I respectfully think youre making a potential mountain out of a molehill.
Peter Grey Piano Doctor
------------------------------Peter GreyStratham NH(603) email@example.com------------------------------
------------------------------James KellyOwner- Fur Elise Piano ServicePawleys Island SC(843) 325-4357Original Message:Sent: 09-26-2023 10:40From: Larry MesserlySubject: Piano Humidifying Systems – Is There A Health Consideration?
------------------------------Larry Messerly, RPTBringing Harmony to Homeswww.firstname.lastname@example.orgOriginal Message:Sent: 09-26-2023 08:56From: Benjamin SanchezSubject: Piano Humidifying Systems – Is There A Health Consideration?
------------------------------Benjamin Sanchez, RPTPiano Technician / Artisan(256) 947-9999www.professional-piano-services.comOriginal Message:Sent: 09-25-2023 21:55From: Norman BrickmanSubject: Piano Humidifying Systems – Is There A Health Consideration?
------------------------------Norman BrickmanPotomac Piano ServicePotomac, Marylandpotomacpiano@verizon.nethttps://potomacpiano.com(301) 983.9321------------------------------
Norman, In California there would probably be a required warning label on a DampChaser system, but then we have warning labels on cars (please note, in spite of my sarcastic cynicsm about this subject I do not recommend that you or anyone around you eat a car or any of its components)!
Thanks to all for the good responses. Very lively. The consensus to my question was obviously that there is no need to inform our customers of any potential health hazards associated with using piano-specific evaporative-type humidifying systems. I'm afraid that I personally need a scientific study which says "forget it, it is not a problem," before I consider taking the potential health issue off my list of considerations and before I stop mentioning it to my customers concerned about the best way to achieve good humidity control.
And yes, California Proposition 65 is it? We all know where some comments are coming from! I'll post a couple responses below that might be of assistance relative to the comments that we got.
1) Thanks for the update on how piano humidifying systems include some surge protection; I need to look into it. For electrocution protection, I am used to appliances needing a three-wire system/plug. Such as with the ALCI plugs (like a GFCI on the supply side) that come with hair dryers.
2) Chemicals sitting in water, like with those used in cleaning toilet bowls, I don't believe would be the equivalent to piano humidifying systems actively putting minute quantities of toxic chemicals in the air, due to there not being a heater along with pads or a wick.
3) True, my wife and I are up to date on our Covid-19 boosters – in fact, we just got the latest one yesterday. But I think such is OK to do if we are up to speed on both the pros and cons -- and then decide to go for it. Others decide not to.
4) I did not realize that there are multiple types of room humidifiers: ultrasonic, vaporizing, evaporative-vaporizing, and whatever else. In a small sample that I looked at on Amazon, none had pads and none referred to adding chemicals to the water reservoir – but I presume that there are some that do so. All the units that I looked into require weekly, or frequent, cleaning for bacteria or for other reasons. The only whole-home humidifying systems that I am familiar with use flowing water near the central air-flow furnace, so no chemicals for anti-bacteria purposes are required.
5) Lastly, this topic of potential health considerations can get complex. If anyone wants to pursue it further, I suggest the use of a good AI engine. You can contact me direct about it.
Norman B. wrote in part: "4) I did not realize that there are multiple types of room humidifiers: ultrasonic, vaporizing, evaporative-vaporizing, and whatever else. In a small sample that I looked at on Amazon, none had pads and none referred to adding chemicals to the water reservoir – but I presume that there are some that do so"
Dampp-Chaser makes a point that their system should only use their proprietary solution. Use of other "humidifier treatments" has in some cases caused damage (corrosion, I believe) to pianos. I think being concerned about those other solutions may be appropriate, but you shouldn't "use a broad brush" and lump Dampp-Chaser in with those products. As Benjamin wrote earlier, most of us know Dampp-Chaser to be a very open, service-oriented company.
All that aside, the experience of technicians in higher humidity climates is quite different from those of us in more northern, inland (not near bodies of water) situations.
Thank you for your mindfulness for the health of piano owners. It is important to us as well. Whenever you have question, please don't hesitate to first reach out to us directly for information.
Formulating a branded treatment that is both gentle for the piano and for piano owners was essential for our company. This is exactly why we did not use a standard off-the-shelf humidifier descaler or treatment that can include corrosive ingredients. Instead we partnered with a local business here in the Carolinas for a custom product.
We worked closely with the producer's chemist, and also an international environmental consultant, technologist, and safety advisor through the development of this product. Because our Piano Life Saver Pad Treatment is sold worldwide, we knew it also needed to meet European standards for household products, which is higher than that in the United States.
You listed a few ingredient numbers. The one in our product is CAS #68424-85-1. At the level of concentration provided in the bottle, the ingredient is reported (per Global SDS) to not have any toxicological effects (including through inhalation and aspiration) . Consider then, how much more dilute when you use only 1 capful per gallon in the humidifier.
I certainly respect having an awareness of the products we use on a daily basis at home. Thankfully, Piano Life Saver Pad Treatment is formulated with the well being of the piano owner in mind.
------------------------------Kelly HollifieldGeneral ManagerDampp-Chaser CorporationHendersonville, NC800-438-1524------------------------------
Norman, in regard to your response number 2, please view this video, it will make you forget all about piano humidifiers.
------------------------------Kelly HollifieldGeneral ManagerDampp-Chaser CorporationHendersonville, NC800-438-1524Original Message:Sent: 09-25-2023 21:55From: Norman BrickmanSubject: Piano Humidifying Systems – Is There A Health Consideration?
Playing a piano (especially an older one) disperses minute particles of felt (and whatever bits and pieces of century old air contaminants that may have settled on them) with every stroke of every key. The pianist cannot help but inhale some of this potential air pollution (not to mention us piano tuners whacking the keys and standing right over it opened up). I have personally experienced negative respiratory effects from some of these.
If you're going to be thorough in your advice to clients you had better include this fact (which is not new information) since it is just as pertinent as any other warning. "Playing an acoustic piano could be harmful to your health" is actually a very real thing. Hammer manufacturers have long warned us about protecting ourselves from the particulate matter contained in their products. Deep grooves in hammers where felt used to be is incontrovertible proof that the felt went somewhere during playing (unused pianos do not wear hammers). Most of it probably into the area surrounding the piano including players lungs.