The effects of air purifiers could cost you more than your money! The term is usually used for portable devices that are designed to improve the indoor air quality. The sales pitch usually includes how they can solve all kinds of medical problems but the facts do not back up these claims.
Ion generators use a strong electrical field to create free atoms. These atoms (ions) usually have a negative electrical charge. After this "ionized" air exits the machine, the ions attach themselves to things such as walls, furniture, etc. Then pollutants are attracted to them and removed from the air. Ionic air purifiers as they are sometimes called do not actually remove contaminants from the home. In fact the contaminants are deposited on walls, furniture, etc. which can make those things look dirty. Also, if they are disturbed, the contaminants can be released back into the home's air. During operation, these units also produce a low level of ozone. Ozone generators are devices that are designed to produce an ozone molecule. The normal air we breathe contains oxygen that is made up of two atoms. These machines use electricity to add a third atom of oxygen to the normal molecule. This third atom can then separate from the normal oxygen and then attach itself to other substances. Sometimes, these units include a HEPA filter in with the other technologies. In this case the purifier can in fact improve air quality. But, the air improvement is localized and the potentially harmful aspects of the units are still there.
Although, on the surface, these products may seem like a good idea, they are not! Not since the days of snake oil salesmen, has there been such health claims made. The fact is they can have harmful health effects. Low amounts of ozone can cause throat irritation, shortness of breath, and coughing. These "air purifiers" are marketed to allergy and asthma sufferers but they can actually make those conditions worse. Did you know that ozone is considered a pollutant by environmental agencies? In fact it is actually one of the five air pollutants the EPA regulates under the Clean Air Act. At levels considered safe for public health, ozone generators can not significantly remove contaminants. Also, at these levels they can not effectively remove viruses, bacteria, or other biological pollutants. Did you know that ozone is a major contributor to smog in large cities? So, why are these products still on the market? The truth is that NO GOVERNMENT AGENCY HAS THE AUTHORITY TO FULLY REGULATE THEM. For more information, you can visit the website of the CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION.