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The Dangers of Ionic Air Cleaners


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Many people use air purifiers who have  allergies to airborne dust, mold, pollen and other airborne allergens. These tiny particles can accumulate in your home environment, potentially leading to health problems.

For relief these affected people look to an indoor air purifier or air cleaner. However you need to know what the difference is between an indoor air cleaner and an air purifier?

Air cleaning refers to the filtering of harmful contaminants and particles from the surrounding air. Room air purifiers using HEPA filtration, on the other hand, are designed to kill airborne microorganisms, mold spores, and other viruses. So-called ionic air purifiers do not, in reality, purify the air at all. This is because they do nothing to kill off airborne microorganisms. The name can be misleading, as they are really air cleaners.

For a while, ionic air cleaners took the world of air purification by storm. People were drawn in by their quiet operation, the fact that they don’t use or require filters, and for their energy efficiency. It seemed as if HEPA air purifiers had some legitimate competition for the very first time. It didn’t take long, though, for news about the problems with ionic air cleaners to spread. Studies by consumer groups have cast doubts on the performance and health benefits of these appliances. Here is what the EPA says about ozone generators.

The biggest concern that haunts the supposed benefits of these machines is their close association with ozone. Indeed, ionic air cleaners produce ozone as a byproduct – and ozone is a proven lung irritant that flies in the face of improving indoor air quality.

To understand the growing concern that many people have about ionic air cleaners, it is necessary to get a handle on why ozone is so problematic. Most of us are familiar with ozone due to the ozone layer, the much talked about protective bubble that envelops the Earth’s atmosphere. Nearly everybody knows about the ever increasing concerns about ozone layer depletion and what it means for the health and safety of people around the world. In that regard, ozone is a very important and necessary molecule in the Earth’s stratosphere; it’s when ozone gets into the air we breathe that it creates trouble.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued warnings regarding the dangers of ozone exposure. Basically, breathing in ozone can cause a laundry list of health problems. Chief among these health problems are coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain and an irritated throat. Breathing in ozone on a regular basis can exacerbate or worsen existing respiratory conditions including asthma and allergies. Without a doubt, all of us are better off avoiding ozone at all costs – yet an air purifier that is designed to clean the air we breathe produces it as a byproduct.

How Ionic Air Cleaners Work

Ionic air cleaners work in a completely different way than HEPA air purifiers. A negative ion generator is the main part of an ionizer or ionic air purifier. That negative ion generator continually generates and emits a stream of negative ions into the surrounding air. Negative ions are oxygen atoms or molecules that have an extra electron. These negative ions are attracted to the positive particles in the air. Ultimately, both the negative ion and the positive particles join together in the air. This union results in the particles in the ionic air becoming too heavy. Due to their own weight, they ultimately drop from the air to the floor. This removes all sorts of particles from the air. They are removed from the air, but not removed from the room. Instead, they create a film of sorts on things around a room and can even be stirred back up into the air.

Ozone and Ionic Air Cleaners: A Troubling Connection

As beneficial as ionic air cleaners may sound, they come with one very negative side effect: ozone production. In order to produce the negatively charged ions that they do, these machines must emit ozone as a byproduct. Considering that the American Lung Association (ALA) has issued stern warnings about exposure to ozone in the past, it stands to reason that using an ionic air cleaner just doesn’t make any sense. Why introduce such an irritant into the air in your home if you can help it?

Controversy Swirls around Ionic Air Cleaners

Sharper Image – a popular retailer of unique, high tech gadgets – coasted on the popularity of their ionic air cleaners for quite some time. In fact, Sharper Image actually sued a consumer watchdog group that raised concerns about the health issues caused by ozone production. That suit was thrown out of court, and Sharper Image actually ended up paying damages. Ultimately, the negative press generated by the ozone production of their ionic air cleaners hurt Sharper Image’s sales considerably; they even had to file for bankruptcy when all was said and done.

HEPA Air Purifiers for Tried and True Indoor Air Quality

Despite their initial threat to the popularity of air purifiers with HEPA technology, ionic air cleaners actually ended up cementing and proving the benefits of HEPA air purifiers in the end. Quality HEPA air purifiers do not produce ozone and do not introduce any contaminants into the air in your home. Unlike ionic air cleaners, HEPA filtration effectively removes 99.97% of all airborne pollutants as small as 0.3 microns including mold spores, bacteria, dust, pollen and viruses, making it easier and healthier to breathe. HEPA air purifiers are the genuine article when it comes to superior respiratory health.

It’s easy to take advantage of the many benefits of HEPA air purifiers. If you own an ionic air cleaner, it’s in the best interests of the health of you and your family to toss it to the curb and get a HEPA air purifier. Then you can rest easy that the indoor air quality of your home is being dramatically improved – not worsened.

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Clean Air Plus is a veteran and family owned small business. We represent the leading manufacturers in HEPA filtration including Austin Air Standard Units, Austin Air Junior Units, IQAir, Amaircare, Oransi and Airpura. Shop online or call one of our friendly experts at 888.247.1147. We'll be happy to help you choose from our large selection of quality air purifiers.

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