There is much confusion in the air purifier market about the difference between air purifiers, ozone generators and ionizers. Because the Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t regulate the sale of air purifiers, there is a huge need for the public to be aware of what each product does and whether or not purchasing an air purifier will actually help reduce your home’s indoor air pollution. Some do and some don’t.
Ionizers are generally the same as a typical air purifier in that they have several layers of filtration to clean your indoor air. They differ in the fact that they attach negatively charged ions onto positively charged dust and allergen particles. By attaching to the dust, the negatively charged ions cause the particles to drop out of the air in front of your ionizer unit. This element of an ionizer’s air filtering process means you'll need to vacuum the floor around the unit frequently. Ionizers sometimes produce excess ozone as well.
What is Ozone?
Ozone is a gas that occurs naturally in our atmosphere and unnaturally at ground level. When it occurs naturally in the atmosphere, ozone acts as a protective layer against the sun’s harmful UV rays. Nearer to ground level, ozone is created when air pollutants expelled from power plants, cars, etc., react chemically to the sunlight – hence ozone creation is more common during summer months. Ground-level ozone is harmful to the respiratory system, especially your lungs. according to the Environmental Protection Agency, ozone has been known to reduce lung function, exacerbate asthma and make your lungs more vulnerable to infection.
With all of the research against the creation and inhalation of ozone, it amazes us that ozone generator manufacturers still produce and market their products as air purifiers. They may still have the some of the same technology as an air purifier, but because they also crate ozone, they should not be used by anyone suffering from asthma, or by health-conscious individuals.
Ozone generators are mainly marketed for their ability to remove unwanted odors from a room. This is very true; the creation of ozone does eliminate pesky cooking, pet-related or smoke odors. In fact, when ozone is released in your home it will smell just like it does after a thunderstorm, fresh and clean – that smell is ozone. However, if you are truly looking to purify the air, look closely for air purifiers that advertise ozone-free technology.
The scary truth is that many devices in your home produce ozone byproduct – anything with an electrical motor like TVs, computers, electric mixers, hair dryers and ceiling fans. The Food and Drug Administration and EPA regulates most of these types of products, requiring ozone output to be no more than 0.05 ppm. Air purifiers are not regulated as most home appliances are, thus there is a danger that the unit could be producing excess ozone. When purchasing an air purifier, look for a filter that is UL listed, has an ETL mark or is certified by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. All of these organizations, though not government run, are independent companies that test for safe levels of ozone production and compliance with other safety codes.