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Last edit: 10/06/15

Re: Air Purifiers for Preventing Flu and Chronic Illness?

A Reader writes:

Hi Ed,

I'm so glad I found your site. Great work.

I work in schools, so I'm always around kids, and I get sick a lot, presumably from their germs.

I have some mild allergies as well, which I'm sure compromises my immune system.

Finally, in one of my offices there is a musty smell coming from one of the walls, which makes me think there's some unpleasantness inside it.

(Actually I just moved into that office, so mold hasn't caused my illnesses to date, but I don't think it will help.)

Is there an air cleaner/purifier that will help prevent colds/flu under these circumstances?

I understand that touch is the primary culprit, but I try to keep my hands away from the children.

Maybe controlling the other factors (allergies/mold) would help somewhat?

I'm just so sick of getting sick.

My colleague in the office next to me is sick right now, and I tend to follow behind him.

I work in two offices, and I'm thinking I could get a unit for each office, plus home.

Money isn't the primary factor, although I think three IQAirs would be a bit much.

One office (the musty one) is under 150 square feet, but the other is maybe three times that, with high ceilings to boot.

The larger one has no windows, just recycled air through some filthy vents.

(The vents in the smaller office are pretty filthy too, actually.)

So I guess the school is trying to clean the air, but not very effectively.

At home I have a cat, another allergy producer but she's a permanent housemate.

(I do lock her out of my room when I sleep, although her dander is still everywhere.)

Any suggestions you can offer would be much appreciated.


A Reader.

Ed's Reply

Hey Reader;

As you have read, I believe the “air purifiers prevent viral illness” hype is largely marketing fluff.

In any given epidemiological event, whether it is cholera, SARS, Ebola, seasonal flu, or outright bioweapon assault, there is a triage pattern.

Some will resist the invader, with short duration of symptoms or none at all.

A second group will become ill but experience a reduced percentage mortality which varies with the infectious agent.

Some percentage of the effected population will die outright, depending on the virulence of the organism.

So the key to beating the frequent cold, and preparing for the real flu, is strengthening the immune system, being one of the first group.

Air purifiers can help by reducing pollutant loads, but really won’t change the overall profile of the event.

In addition, schools and offices are public places unsuited to the enclosures needed for air purifiers to work well.

With those caveats, let’s try to formulate a plan for your three spaces.

Have you seen my page on the Dylos Laser Particle counter?

With air quality under the control of others in two of your three habitats, I think the laser scanner is a better initial investment than a premium air cleaner, IQAir or not.

So I would start in the small musty office, with the Dylos DC1100 and a less expensive air cleaner.

Airborne mold spore reduction is fairly easy, almost any air cleaner can do it.

Spores are relatively large, like 2 – 3 microns, and even cheap Honeywells can sequester them.

Your goal is to gain control of this space, while using the laser as a learning tool.

I like the strong but inexpensive Winix 5500, about $200, as a starter machine.

Later you may consider upgrading.

With the experience gained there, the larger office, with obvious incoming air contaminants, will be easier to deal with.

Again, the particle counter is your strongest ally, and may suggest adding filtration to the vents.

This could be as easy as taping some inexpensive air conditioner filter material over the grates.

Why not take a vacuum cleaner to work and clean the dirty vents and spruce up the office yourself?

Workplace desktops are notorious for microbial contamination, which supports the flu virus when it arrives - keeping yours clean will help when the guy next door is shedding virus.

Elevator buttons, door handles, escalator rails, handshakes, and shopping carts are major germ spreaders.

It is a good idea to wash your hands frequently, and avoid touching your face, as we do unconsciously, in any public space.

I would focus more money on the “home” environment, where your immune system works hardest while you sleep.

So the place where you sleep, your bedroom, is the most important spot on the planet.

While the Dylos is too bulky for a briefcase, I’d take it with you until you begin to anticipate particle counts and be proactive in response.

The cat should be excluded from the bedroom permanently.

I’d start by making sure your vacuum cleaner has good emissions, then attack the bedroom.

All unnecessary clutter and mold-growth substrates should be moved to another room.

Horizontal surfaces should be wiped with a damp cloth frequently – this is a good indicator of overall particle density, which you can learn to visualize.

Wash all bedding more than once in hot water, along with vacuuming fastidiously, including upper surfaces, shades, drapes, blinds, ceiling fans...

The particle counter will be especially informative during the bedroom clean-up, surprising you with the huge amount of latent dust lurking there.

Since we are concerned with biological contaminants, I suggest you consider the long term consequences of your bedroom’s carpeting;

If carpeted, I suggest a strong SEALED True-HEPA vacuum with plenty of suction and deep-cleaning capability, to reduce embedded nutrients that support microbial populations.

Long term I recommend hardwood floors, they are much healthier.

Keep the door to your bedroom closed, and use the particle counter to evaluate HVAC system cleanliness, looking for particle spikes when AC or heating kick on.

The bedroom is a good place for an IQAir, but I use additional air cleaners, and the particle counter, to lower filter costs and insure burst mode power.

Any chemical sources should be removed, including particleboard, dry cleaned clothing, & etc.

Strengthening your immune system is a lifetime task, and setting up your air quality defenses is but one step.

I recommend you investigate the effects of high-carbohydrate mineral-deficient diets on the internal human ecosystem.

Your intuitive mold sensing suggests high blood sugar and attendant yeast toxin (primarily acetaldehyde) levels in the bloodstream.

Trace minerals, increasingly absent from our food, are very important: iodine, silver, selenium, zinc, germanium, chromium, vanadium, and about 70 others play roles in immunity.

So here is my plan:

1.) Start at home, with the bedroom/cat situation, lock cat out of the bedroom 24/7 forever.

2.) Get Dylos "Pro" (NOT Standard model), start monitoring air.

3.) Make sure you have a very low emissions sealed True-HEPA vacuum cleaner, if not, get one.

4.) Get bedroom CLEAN, this may be somewhat difficult, but WILL be worth the trouble.

5.) Get an air cleaner for the bedroom, I would get a Winix 6300, it can move to the workplace later.

6.) Expand into house, clean, clean, clean...

7.) When you have improved your home, expand again to offices...

Dylos DC1100 Pro laser particle monitor at

Best wishes,


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