What is the purpose of an Air Ionizer? Are they effective? What about the dangers of ionizers? What’s up with that smell?
Air Ionizer purpose
An Air Ionizer is an air cleaner that uses the polarity of ions to clear the Ambient air of allergens like pollen, bacterium, dust, and smoke.
How does an Ionizer work?
An ionizer works by emitting negatively charged ions into a room.
Because of their polarity, the emitted ions, instantly attach to the positively charged contaminants in the air.
The result is that the newly-formed particles are too heavy to float and fall to the surface and out of the ambient air you breathe.
Do Air Ionizers really work?
Air Ionizer Effectiveness
There are many benefits to using an ionizer.
1. Bacteria reduction
At the top of the list is the ability of an ionizer to kill bacteria rather than just capturing it in a filter.
A study concluded by the US national library of medicine stated that the ionizer had the ability to kill the bacteria and dramatically reduce its bacterial effect.
Secondly, even though an ionizer can work very well in concert with a HEPA air purifier, a stand alone air ionizer does not require filter replacements.
A big plus for those people looking for air purifier but trying to avoid a lifetime investment of air purifier replacement filters.
Using ionizers in your HVAC ductwork can turn your central heat and air system into a whole house air purifier without putting strain on your handler for adding any significant change to your electric bill.
Other benefits of air ionizers include: reducing static electricity,
helping HEPA purifiers capture smaller particles and then there is the science of negative ions as a mood enhancer.
Air Ionizer ineffectiveness
For all of their benefits, ionizers do have their problems.
One of the main issues is that they leave the surfaces around the air cleaner dusty.
Anything with an opposite charge like a wall or TV screen located near the ionizer will tend to get extra dusty.
Bear in mind that all air purifiers require some type of maintenance or replacement parts.
So having to dust around the air purifier is just par for the course with an ionizer.
Also ions are limited in the distance that they can travel before dissipating.
That means that an ionizer works best only in a small area.
And then there is the point that ionizers create a low level of ozone as a by-product.
Air Ionizer Dangers.
Why do people say that ionizers can be dangerous?
It is because of the way they actually produce the ions.
Ionizers create ions through two different methods.
Needlepoint and or UV. Both methods create ozone as a by-product.
Ozone is dangerous to breathe at too high of levels.
Though most modern ionizers come equipped with a sensor to ensure that the machine cannot produce over the federal limit of .05 ppm acceptable ozone,
Some do not.
To avoid any type of risk relating to ozone in an Ionizer,
Simply use the machine in an unoccupied room and let it dissipate before using it again.
Ozone 03 is actually Oxygen 02 with a third molecule. When ozone collides with any type of contaminant, it oxidizes it and reverts back to oxygen.
Approaching an ionizer as a treatment rather than a 24/7 filtering air cleaner is a easy way to get all of the benefits of an air ionizer without taking a risk.
Air Ionizer Smell
If you have ever been around and Air ionizer, then you were aware of the smell that it generates.
The smell is ozone.
Most of the time it is described as the freshness that occurs after a thunderstorm.
The reason is, ozone is created by lightning.
Needlepoint ionizers are basically a type of lightning simulation mimicking the effects of a thunderstorm.
Though the smell of the ozone may be considered fresh after the rain rolls through, inside a closed area, it is more comparable to chlorine or antiseptic.
The strong smell of ozone can be downright pungent. If the smell coming from your ionizer seems extra sharp or pungent then there may be a problem.
The purpose of an ionizer is to clean the ambient air in a room or area by using the polarization of ions.
They work because ionized particles clump together and become too heavy to float. Clearing the air.
In some ways they are more effective than other types of air cleaners because of the ability of ions to damage virus and bacteria cells, leaving them inactive.
Another great benefit of an air ionizer is how well they work with a central heat and air system.
Placing specific ionizers in the HVAC ductwork can turn your air handler into a whole house air purifier without damaging your equipment or increasing your energy bill very much.
Weighing the good with the bad.
Ionizers have a lot of great benefits, but they have their not so shining moments to.
Stand-alone ionizers are limited to the amount of square footage they can cover.
Ions are very limited in the amount of space they can travel before they dissipate.
That also means that the surfaces around the air ionizer can get very dusty.
The walls and the monitors included.
And then there is this thing called ozone.
Because of the way ions are created in an ionizer, ozone is also created as a by-product.
Ozone is dangerous to breathe and can damage your lung tissue if you are exposed to too much for too long.
Ionizers create very little ozone, .05 ppm and under to comply with federal limits.
For this reason, ionizers, in many cases should be approached as a air cleaning treatment rather than the type of air purifier that you leave on 24/7.
Ozone, even in very low levels has an odor.
The smell of ozone is often described as an after a thunderstorm fresh fragrance.
I’m sure that’s true if you’re out on the beach.
But in a closed area, the smell of ozone can be much stronger and more reminiscent of chlorine or bleach.
An air ionizer that is running right should only produce a small smell of ozone.
If on the other hand the smell is very sharp or pungent, it is likely that there is a problem with your unit and you should have it checked.
An air ionizer is definitely the type of machine that you want to weigh the good and the bad before investing.
Because of there anti bacterial effect
and their efficiency as a whole house HVAC air purifier, my thumb is up.