Ionizers are one of those good, bad, and ugly subjects to discuss. For the amount of people that tout their benefits, there’s at least that many people lined up with issues against them.
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What Does An Ionizer Do?
Ionizers charge the air, creating a balance of negative and positive ions.
In doing so they discharge static electricity and attach themselves to airborne particles that causes them to be too heavy to float so that they fall to the surface.
Ionizers are widely used in air cleaning because when ions combine with airborne particles, the particles clump together and provide the extra mass needed to be large enough to be captured in a HEPA filter. (High-efficiency particulate absorber)
Ionic air purifiers without filters are known to make the surrounding surfaces around the air purifier and the air purifier itself extra dusty.
Many of the surfaces that become extra dusty include the walls. Grey Wall syndrome is a phrase coined that describes the effects of polarized dust on walls.
Other surfaces that tend to accumulate dust when an ionizer is in use are television screens and computer monitors.
There are three different types of ionizers that are marketed today.
- Negative Ion Generator
- Photocatalytic Oxidation
What does a negative ion generator do?
A negative ion generator is just what it sounds like. A machine that generates negatively charged ions and emits into the airstream.
The reason the negative ion generators work is because the pollutants in the air are positively charged.
So once the negative ions are released they instantly combine with the positive ions because of polarity.
The newly-formed particles clump together to the point that they become too heavy to float and fall to the surface or get pulled into a particulate filter.
What is a photo catalytic oxidation ionizer do?
Photocatalytic oxidation or PCO for short is an ionizer that creates hydroperoxide ions through a process of combining ultraviolet light with a titanium oxide catalyst.
Photocatalytic oxidation ions not only provide weight to airborne pollutants like a negative ion generator, they disinfect the air similar to how hydrogen peroxide disinfects a cut or abrasion on your skin.
PCO ionizers are very good at reducing airborne bacteria and germs but must be used carefully to avoid ozone build up because of the use UV-C.
What do Plasma cluster ionizers do?
Plasmacluster ionizers emit both positive and negative ions. the release of both positive and negative ions create an instant polarity between the two that causes the ions to snap together and capture whatever pollution happens to be in the way at that moment.
by polarizing the air with equal amounts of positive and negative ions, the are essentially becomes its own air cleaner.
Both PCOS and plasma air purifiers are very efficient at reducing mold spores which makes them ideal for HVAC central heat and air units.
Air ioniSer dangers
The danger of using ionizers is the production of ozone that they create in the process. Ozone is dangerous to breathe and is a lung irritant.
The warnings often cited about ionizers is because of ozone generators being sold as domestic air cleaners.
Though ionizers are not considered an ozone generator, they do generate some ozone.
Most argue that it is not enough ozone to be harmful.
Most ionic air purifiers create less than .005 parts per million of ozone which is below the federal allowed limit.
But that doesn’t account for the square footage that the ionizer is intended to be used in, versus using the same ionizer too small of an area.
The ozone buildup would be too great.
Ozone as an industrial cleaner is never used in the vicinity of people and it is always left to completely dissipate before the area is used again.
So that creates a gray area for manufacturers who build ionic air cleaners.
The solution is to treat any ozone generator regardless if it is a commercial size unit specifically built to pump ozone gas,
Or if it is an ionizer on an air purifier the same in how it is used.
Even if the amount of ozone being created is not nearly amount of an ozone generator, ozone can still build up and be dangerous.
Ionizers remove static electricity
One thing that most people do not talk about when discussing what air ionizers do is their ability to remove static electricity.
Static electricity happens when there is an uneven balance of negative and positive ions in a room or small area.
Though static electricity is typically just a nuisance and a surprise when it gives you a low voltage shock, it can be very dangerous when it builds up high enough.
A large buildup of static electricity can cause gases to ignite and even cause a shock strong enough to stop your heart.
Static electricity is also known to have a bad effect on your electronics. Even causing devices like your phone keyboard to fail.
As a prevention and solution to reducing static electricity, ionizers are often used to create a balance of ions in the air to discharge static electricity and keep electrons from building up and jumping across from surface to surface.
An Ionizer Fan can protect you from static electricity issues and dangers.
Ionizers can lighten your mood.
In the now infamous WebMd article “Negative Ions create positive vibes“
“Negative ions are believed to produced by a chemical reactions that increase levels of moved chemical serotonin, helping to alleviate depression, relieve stress, and boost our daytime energy”
The article goes on to say that
“Columbia University studies of people with winter and chronic depression show that negative ion generators relieve depression as much as antidepressants”
Maybe ion generators are a hidden health secret they can solve all the world’s problems. Lol.
But the things we know that ionizers do like disinfecting the air and discharging static electricity are remarkable enough to add them to our daily lives.