- Are Ionic Air Purifiers Safe?
- What are Air Ionizers?
- Final Thoughts
Recent studies show that indoor air is two to five times as polluted as outdoor air. That’s why people are getting more concerned about the air quality of their indoor spaces. In this regard, air purifiers have become popular tools to keep you healthy by eliminating harmful pollutants such as allergens, dust, or pollen from the air.
However, when it comes to ionic air purifiers, many people question if these ionizers are safe for their health or if are there any dangers associated with the use of these devices. If you’re one of those then go no further.
In this article, we’ll discuss whether ionizers are safe or bad for your health. You’ll also learn what ionic air purifiers are and how they work.
Are Ionic Air Purifiers Safe?
The short answer is: It depends. Ionizers or ionic air purifiers are safe for your health if they use just an ionization method to clean the air and do not involve the emission of ozone. If the ionizing device does include an ozone generator, it is necessary that the device should allow you to control the amount of ozone production.
What are Air Ionizers?
When you look for an ionizer air purifier, you’ll find two different terms i.e air ionizers and ionic air purifiers. In the market, both these terms are used interchangeably and they both mean the same product. Both ionic air purifiers and ionizers use the same technology of electricity-charged particles to clean the indoor air. In this article, we’ll call them “air ionizers”.
Types of Air Ionizers And How They Work?
There are generally two different types of air ionizers that you’ll find in the market: electrostatic precipitators and ion generators.
Let’s talk about the working principles of each type.
An electrostatic precipitator is a purification device that cleans the air using electrostatic force to attract dust or other air particles. It consists of two oppositely charged plates or electrodes. This device releases charged ions into the air through a process known as “corona discharge”.
These charged ions then grab the airborne particles such as dust or pollen, which are then attached to the collecting plates. As a result, particles are left behind and cleaner air is released into the air. The dust particles are then easily washed or scraped off from the collecting plates.
As compared to electrostatic precipitators, ion generators work by dispersing charged ions into the air without using collecting plates. This type of air purifier releases the charged ions by either UV lights or corona discharge. The charged particles in the air cling to dirty particles such as dust or pollen. The bound particles become too heavy to float in the air. Hence, they settle on nearby surfaces such as carpets, tables, walls, curtains, or other furniture.
Related post: The 5 different types of air purifiers and how they work
Benefits of Air Ionizers
Air Ionizers use negative ions to eliminate particles such as bacteria, dust, or unwanted odors from the air. The negative ions offer many benefits in the natural environment. These include:
- It supports your mood and decreases irritability. A study showed that negative ions in the air had an impact on improving overall mood.
- It improves indoor air quality by eliminating harmful airborne contaminants such as dust, pollen, pet hair, bacteria, and mold spores from the air.
- It improves the immune function by reducing exposure to bacteria, viruses, and molds thereby decreasing respiratory infections.
- Helps in reducing stress levels or depression.
These were the good aspects of naturally occurring negative ions. Now, let’s talk about the negative side of using an air ionizer.
The Dangers of Ionizer Air Purifiers
The negative ions of ionic air purifiers aren’t not naturally occurring because they are produced through a process known as “electronic discharge”. During this charging process, the ionizer emits ozone gas as a by-product. Although ozone is produced in very small amounts by ionizers as compared to ozone generators, it can still be bad for our lungs.
Ozone is a colorless gas that is present naturally in the atmosphere but it can also be released from ozone generators or some types of ionic air purifiers. The ozone emitted from these devices may be helpful in eliminating viruses and bacteria from the indoor air but it poses adverse effects on our health.
According to the EPA, ozone is a lung irritant and it can be harmful to those who have preexisting respiratory issues. When inhaled, ozone can be bad for our health. Some of the possible side effects include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Throat irritation
- Difficulty breathing
- Increased risk of respiratory infections
The FDA (Food And Drug Administration) has established an ozone limit of 0.05 ppm on devices such as air purifiers. This means that only those air purifier products are sold which emit less than 0.05 parts per million of ozone as a by-product. However, even at this amount, ozone can still have bad effects on people who have preexisting respiratory problems.
Are Ionizer Air Purifiers Effective?
Apart from emitting ozone gas and causing health problems, these ionic air purifiers are not effective in purifying indoor air quality. This is because these ion air purifiers can eliminate small air particles such as smoke. Larger air particles such as pollen and allergens are not effectively removed from the air. Moreover, according to the EPA, ionic air purifiers cannot efficiently remove unwanted odors and gases.
Another main concern with the use of these types of air purifiers is that the particles that are removed from the air aren’t completely removed from your room.
The negative ions bound with pollutants like mold spores are sitting on the surfaces of your tables, walls, and carpets. These particles can be easily resuspended into the air and can cause allergy or respiratory issues if we breathe them.
Due to these reasons, many people prefer HEPA filter-based air purifiers over air ionizers. HEPA air purifiers are generally safer and more effective for people who suffer from allergies or asthma.
So, Are Ionic Air Purifiers Safe?
The answer to this question depends on what type of ionic air purifier you use. Some types of ionic air purifiers are completely safe as they use negative ions to clean the air.
However, there are other types of ionic air purifiers or ionizers that generate ozone as a by-product. In this case, it is unsafe to use devices because even in small doses, ozone can be harmful to our health. It can cause coughing, shortness of breath, or chest pain in people who have respiratory problems.
What are the Alternatives to Air Ionizers?
There are many other options available in the market that do not use ionization technology to clean the air. For example, you can go for portable air purifiers that have HEPA filters. HEPA filters are more effective in purifying the air because they capture 99.97% of airborne particles that are as small as 0.3 microns. Moreover, these air purifiers do not emit ozone which makes them safe to use.
Ionic air purifiers have several benefits which include the ability to purify indoor air in your home. However, there is an ongoing debate about the safety of these devices due to their potential ozone emissions. If you have concerns about using an ionic air purifier, there are other options available for keeping the air in your home clean. One alternative is a HEPA filter air purifier, which uses a highly efficient filter to remove pollutants and allergens from the air.
However, if you still want to purchase an ionic air purifier, check the specification of the device and make sure it does not generate ozone and if it does, it should be below 0.05 ppm.
Richard is a retired HVAC specialist and air quality enthusiast! With decades of experience in the field, this author has seen it all when it comes to air-related issues and knows just what it takes to keep your surroundings clean and healthy.