With the recent dust storm in Phoenix, Arizona, many people are hearing of “valley fever” for the first time. We are starting to get calls from people that want to know the best air cleaner for Valley Fever.
If you didn’t see the pictures last week, you missed a sight! The dust storm that blew through Phoenix was by some accounts up to 50 miles wide. The pictures I saw looked like they were straight from the movies.
If you live in the desert southwest, or if you sell air cleaners to people that live in that area (like we do), valley fever is not new to you. When our southwestern customers call and are comparing air cleaning units, one of the things they may ask about is what is the best air cleaner for valley fever.
Valley Fever is the common name for the fungal infection properly known as coccidioidomycosis. Many people live with it for years and never know they have it. But, it can lead to serious health problems, especially in those with already compromised immune systems.
The initial symptoms can be mild and are frequently mistaken for flu or a cold. Many people don’t even know they have been exposed and contracted the fungal infection until it shows up on chest x-rays.
The fungal agent is found in the desert sands of the southwest. When the land is disturbed by construction, farming, or high winds the spores become airborne and then are inhaled.
They can also land on clothes, hair, and skin where they are carried inside and spread around the home. It is the desert Southwest's equivalent to the woodland’s Aspergillus.
If your line of work causes you to have frequent exposure to disturbed desert lands, then you should wear a protective dust or pollen mask. The same is true if you participate in dusty sports such as riding ATVs.
If you are thinking of an air cleaner for protection, you want a machine with a true HEPA filter. Stay away from an ionizer, as it will not get rid of the spores. Ultraviolet light is not enough in and of itself to kill the airborne spores.
Our customers prefer the Austin Air Allergy Machine for valley fever protection. It combines medical-grade HEPA filtration with multi-gas absorption material for a unit that removes harmful allergens and fungal spores as well as absorbing volatile organic compounds and household odors.
It is designed to be long-lasting, with filters requiring a change only every 5 years.
Of course, the Austin Air HealthMate Plus would do the job also. It is just a little more than you need if valley fever is your only concern. That is why we think the Allergy Machine is the best air cleaner for Vally Fever.
Whether you live in an area that is home to valley fever or aspergillosis or not, you want to use the following tips to minimize the spores that you bring from the outside to the inside:
- On windy, dry days keep pets indoors (their fur coats trap allergens, molds, pollens, etc and then bring them indoors)
- If you must be outside when pollen and mold counts are high, shower wash your hair and change clothes when you come inside
- Don’t change clothes in your bedroom (change in the bathroom to minimize contamination of your sleeping area)
Every environment has its challenges. You just have to learn to manage them.