Breathing in ozone, even in small amounts, can irritate the lungs. Specific effects may include throat irritation, cough, chest pain and shortness of breath, as well as an increased risk of respiratory infections. Some ozone air purifiers are made with an ion generator, sometimes called an ionizer, in the same unit. When inhaled in sufficiently high doses, ozone can have harmful effects, such as damage to the lungs, chest pain, cough, or shortness of breath.
When we think of ionic air filters and air purifiers, many people will remember the infamous Sharper Image Ionic Breeze, an ionizing air purifier with an electrostatic precipitator that, according to Consumer Reports, produced high levels of ozone, a by-product created due to the ionizing process. Ozone, according to the EPA, is a dangerous by-product that can cause harm to the health of those exposed, such as chest pain, cough, shortness of breath and throat irritation. However, this type of purification cleans as much air as your TV. Most UV cleaners don't contain ozone and don't damage the lungs, but they don't kill pathogens either.
Air purifiers pass air through filters and out through ventilation grilles, creating air circulation in a room. Hospital UV lights are effective at killing particles by reducing or eliminating airflow. The same properties that allow high concentrations of ozone to react with organic matter outside the body, give it the ability to react with similar organic matter that forms the body and can cause harmful health consequences. When inhaled, ozone can damage the lungs.
Relatively low amounts can cause chest pain, cough, shortness of breath, and throat irritation. Ozone can also worsen chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma, and compromise the body's ability to fight respiratory infections. People vary widely in their susceptibility to ozone. Healthy people, as well as people with respiratory distress, may experience respiratory problems with exposure to ozone.
Exercise during ozone exposure causes more ozone to be inhaled and increases the risk of harmful respiratory effects. Recovery from harmful effects may occur after short-term exposure to low ozone levels, but health effects may become more damaging and recovery is less safe at higher levels or longer exposures (U.S. UU., 1996a, 1996b). Since the conflicting data associated with the ionizer remains persistent, I usually keep my ionizer option turned off.
However, to get rid of the dangers of second and third hand smoking from my roommate, I now plan to keep my ionizer turned on only for 30-40 minutes when no one is in the room, and then turn off the ionizer before anyone comes in. An ionizer uses an electromagnetic charge to add or remove electrons from oxygen atoms, causing oxygen particles to be positively or negatively charged when they leave the ionizer. In their 6-month study, the authors found no statistically significant difference in PEFR between active ionization environments and environments with placebo or without ionizer. Ionizer air purifiers are generally safe because ionizers are not energized enough to be harmful to you.
Another recent study of air ionizers in school classrooms reduced particle concentrations and led to some improvements in respiratory health among children 11 to 14 years old, ionizers had an adverse effect on heart rate variability (a measure of cardiovascular health), meaning that any benefit to the lungs had a cost to the heart. As more information is disseminated and presented to the public about the dangers of air ionizers, the more informed consumers will be before purchasing an air purifier, and they are likely to be aware of and avoid these potentially hazardous ionizing air systems. Air ionizers are designed to help provide cleaner air and they do so through the use of ionized particles. Chamber and field tests found that an ionizing device led to a decrease in some volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including xylenes, but to an increase in others, especially oxygenated VOCs (e.g.
Laboratory tests were conducted with sampling of particulate air and gases in a large semi-furnished chamber and in a field test with an ionizing device installed in an air handling unit serving an occupied office building. These ionizers turn on for 8 hours every day, and I have a Therapure TPP300D with UV+ ionizer that turns on for 8 hours in my living room. . .