How Ozone Air Purifiers Work
There is a debate raging about the safety of ozone air purifiers. Some love the fresh smell and swear by them. Others are voicing concerns about the ozone that is a by product of the air cleaning process. Ozone is a pollutant and at high levels can cause respiratory problems. This is particularly true for people living with a condition that causes decreased lung function.
How Ozone Air Purifiers Work
These purifiers work by giving the air a positive charge as it moves through the machine. This causes the particles in the air to become charged as well. The charged contaminants are handled in one of two ways. In some systems, the air simply moves through the machine and is charged. The particles then settle on your walls, furniture and carpeting. These need to be vacuumed or dusted away.
More common is a system that contains a collection grid to trap the contaminants in the air. The Ionic Breeze is probably the best known of these systems. You have probably seen this advertised on late night television. The particles attach to a collection grid. You remove the grid and wipe away the contaminants and then replace the grid in the machine. The grid is easy to clean with a damp rag. This eliminates the need for replacement filters, as with hepa air purifiers.
Safety Concerns with Ozone Air Purifiers
The controversy over the safety of ozone gained publicity a few years ago when Consumer Reports gave the Ionic Breeze a low rating due to the ozone released. The position of Consumer Reports was that the ozone released was unhealthy. Sharper Image disputed this claim and tried to sue Consumer Reports and the parent company, unsuccessfully.
The new Ionic Breeze has a feature called Ozone Guard that is intended to clean the ozone out of the air. While not all the ozone can be removed, the level in the room is lower than without the Ozone Guard feature. In spite of this change, Consumer Reports still gave the system low marks. According to their testing, the purifier scored just within the acceptable limit of ozone in the air.
Ozone is particularly bad for people with decreased lung function. This includes people with asthma or COPD. For these people, ozone can cause coughing and shortness of breath. Many find the symptoms of respiratory disease become worse when exposed to ozone in the air.
5 Ways to Improve Safety with Ozone Air Purifiers
o Operate the purifier on a lower setting to reduce the amount of ozone in your air. If odors are a problem, run the machine on the higher setting when you are not in the room and then turn it to the lower setting.
o Buy a machine made for the size of your room. Using a machine intended for larger areas in a small room can cause an unhealthy level of ozone in the room. Be sure your unit is appropriate for the size of your room.
o Make sure the room is well ventilated. The more air circulation, the less ozone will accumulate in the room. Keep the doors open to increase air flow.
o Home furnishings help absorb some of the ozone in your air. A sparsely furnished room will contain more ozone in the air than a room with upholstered furniture, curtains, rugs, pillows and other decoration.
o Run the appliance when you are not in the room. Turn it off and air out the room before entering. If you are having company, you can run the machine in the empty room and turn it off before your guests arrive. This will remove odors and leave the room smelling fresh.