Air Ionizer Dangers & Safety Concerns – Ionic Air Purifiers Or Ionizers?

Last Updated on: 11th December 2023, 07:45 pm

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 question whether these ionizers are safe for their health or any dangers associated with using them. If you’re one of those, then go no further.

This article will discuss whether ionizers are safe or bad for your health. You’ll also learn what ionic air purifiers are and how they work.

Ionic Air Purifiers

Table of Contents

Are Air Purifiers With Ionizers 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, the device must 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 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.

Electrostatic Precipitators

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 attached to the collecting plates, such as dust or pollen. As a result, particles are left behind, and cleaner air is released into the air. The dust particles are then easily washed or scraped from the collecting plates.

Ion Generators

As compared to electrostatic precipitators, ion generators work by dispersing charged ions into the air without using collecting plates. This air purifier releases the charged ions by 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.

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.
  • It 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 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 help eliminate viruses and bacteria from the indoor air but adversely affect 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
  • Coughing
  • 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 that emit less than 0.05 parts per million of ozone as a by-product. However, even at this amount, ozone can still harm people with preexisting respiratory problems.

Are Ionizer Air Purifiers Effective?

ionic air purifiers

Apart from emitting ozone gas and causing health problems, these ionic air purifiers are ineffective in purifying indoor air quality. 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 using these types of air purifiers is that the particles removed from the air aren’t completely removed from your room.

The negative ions bound with pollutants like mold spores are 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 prefer HEPA filter-based air purifiers over air ionizers. HEPA air purifiers are generally safer and more effective for people with 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 ionic air purifiers are completely safe as they use negative ions to clean the air.

However, other ionic air purifiers or ionizers generate ozone as a by-product. In this case, it is unsafe to use devices because even in small doses, ozone can harm our health. It can cause coughing, shortness of breath, or chest pain in people with respiratory problems.

What are the Alternatives to Air Ionizers?

Many other options in the market do not use ionization technology to clean the air. For example, you can use portable air purifiers with HEPA filters. HEPA filters are more effective in purifying the air because they capture 99.97% of airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns. Moreover, these air purifiers do not emit ozone, making them safe to use.

Final Thoughts

Ionic air purifiers have several benefits, including 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, other options are 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 device’s specification and make sure it does not generate ozone; if it does, it should be below 0.05 ppm.

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