Ion air purifiers offer a unique method of cleaning air that provides consumers with the choice of an air cleaner that does not require replacement filters.
A huge selling point when you realize the investment you are going to have to make in filter replacements over the life of an air purifier.
But does the benefit of being a filter less air purifier also come with the risk of being dangerous?
Are air purifiers with ionizers safe?
The danger that ion air purifiers present is that they create ozone as a by-product.
Ozone is a known Lung irritant that can cause a range of Health issues like:
- Chest pain
- Throat Irritation
- Airway inflammation
It can also be a trigger for predisposed conditions like asthma and bronchitis.
The EPA has crack downed on manufacturers that knowingly sell ozone generators as domestic air cleaners.
A ozone generator is a machine that intentionally manufacturers Ozone gas as a means of sterilizing the air.
Ozone is a very strong oxidant that will not only oxidize the pollutants in the air, it will also oxidize your lung tissue when breathed to large of amounts.
That makes it completely unsafe as an everyday air cleaning device that you turn on and leave it.
Ionizer air purifier dangers
Ionizers typically manufacturer ions in one of two ways.
1. Corona discharge which amounts to a lightning simulation
2. Ultraviolet light
Though not nearly the level of ozone that an ozone generator would create,
The presence of ozone at all creates a need for safety precautions.
The good news is that ionizers do not produce Ozone gas as an intentional method of air cleaning.
And the level of ozone manufactured is below the 0-50 ppb Federal limit for the amount of ozone a device can create before it becomes a health hazard.
But that does not negate the fact that ozone can build up when an ionizer is used wrongly or in a wrongly specified space? No.
In other words if you purchase a ionizer that is made to use in 1000 square feet, the same ionizer is going to create much too much ozone in 100 square feet.
You’re still required to follow the directions for the Ionizer to be used safely.
For a lot of people the Ideal that an air cleaner could actually create ozone and potentially have the opposite effect means
their search for an air purifier should narrow to air cleaners that rely on filters. And why not? There are plenty of good choices.
But by abandoning the ionizer path, they are leaving behind some benefits that filtering air purifiers just can’t give.
Besides the obvious benefit of being filterless and not requiring the maintenance and replacement filters associated with HEPA air purifiers,
The arguably much greater benefit of air ionization is the effect that ions have on bacteria and viruses.
The summary of a study conducted by the University of Michigan concluded that “dangerous airborne viruses are rendered harmless on-the-fly when exposed to energetic, charged fragments of air molecules, researchers have shown.
The test was done using plasma bipolar ionizer that emits both positive and negative ions.
Other similar studies have come to the same conclusion.
PCO (photo catalytic oxidation) ionizers
Manufacturer ions through a process of combining ultraviolet light with a titanium oxide catalyst.
The result is hydroxyl ions and hydroperoxide ions. These powerful ions can sanitize the air and the surfaces in the room as well.
The use of PCO has been described as spritzing an entire room with hydrogen peroxide. The same stuff you put on a cut or abrasion to disinfect the area.
Image disinfecting your entire room with an ionizer.
Using an Ionizer safely.
Although most ionizers do not create
dangerous amounts of ozone,
Ozone, never the less is being generated on some level.
The safest way to approach the use of an Ionizer air purifier is to to use it as an air treatment.
The type of air purifier that is used in a space when there is no one in the room.
Professional ozone generators are operated under the strict guidelines that the area being treated is unoccupied by people, animals, or plants.
The area is left to completely dissipate before it is put to use again.
By applying the same type of caution to a ionizer, you can reap the benefits that ion air purifiers offer without exposing yourself or others to any danger.
Ion air purifier danger comes in the form of ozone.
Because of the way ions are manufactured in an ionizer, namely ultraviolet light or Corona discharge which is the real definition of lightning in a bottle.
Ozone is the unfortunate by-product.
And since ozone is such a powerful oxidant, it will not only oxidize the pollutants in your air, it can also oxidize your lung tissue.
Though ionizer air purifiers do not create the level of ozone that a ozonator does, ozone, even at a low level can build up and be harmful to breathe.
But because ionizers have benefits that other types of air purifiers don’t have like never having to replace the filter and having a actual destroying effect on viruses and bacteria,
They still offer amazing benefits even if they have to be approached differently then a HEPA air purifier.
An ionizer should be treated as a air treatment rather than a set it and leave it filtering type of air cleaner.
But approaching an air ionizer as a air treatment that is used in an unoccupied room and then left to dissipate,
You still reap all the benefits of ionized air without any of the dangers of using a ion air purifier.
And even though one of the main benefits of ionizers is there absence of filters, they can actually make your HEPA filter work better because they clump particles that would normally be too small for a HEPA filter to capture,
Into a size that can be trapped easily in the filter.