Are Air Ionizers Environmentally Friendly? A Comprehensive Guide

The importance of air quality cannot be overstated - learn more about how ozone-generating air purifiers work & why EH&S does not recommend them.

Are Air Ionizers Environmentally Friendly? A Comprehensive Guide

The importance of air quality cannot be overstated, and using air purifiers is an important strategy to help improve indoor air quality (IAQ). Ozone is a colorless gas that occurs naturally in the Earth's upper atmosphere and protects us from harmful UV rays, although it can also form at ground level. It is known to cause the formation of free radicals in biological systems, which damage tissues. Inhaling relatively small amounts of ozone can cause coughing, chest pain, throat irritation, and shortness of breath.

For these reasons, Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) does not recommend the use of ozone-generating air purifiers or ozone generators under any circumstances. Electronic air purifiers (including ionizers, electrostatic precipitators, hydroxyl generators, and ultraviolet light) use electrical voltage to convert oxygen molecules or other species into their charged ionic components that inactivate air pollutants, in a process called bipolar ionization (BPI). The ionic components of oxygen are reactive radicals that are capable of removing hydrogen from other molecules. In the case of bipolar ionization, positive and negative ions surround the air particles, destroying the germs and pathogens present, and the added mass helps air particles to fall to the ground and enter the building's air filter. However, BPI can emit ozone and other free radical species as a by-product and may be less effective than other cleaning technologies, since charged particles in the air sometimes adhere to room surfaces (e.g.

Floors (and walls) instead of filtering. Filtering air purifiers pass air through a filter, where polluting particles or gases are trapped, and return clean air to the room. There is some popular controversy surrounding the extent to which air filters can reduce the presence of larger particles (such as pollen, household dust allergens, mold spores, and animal dander), but most of these large particles settle on home or office surfaces and an air filter cannot remove them unless they are altered and re-suspended in the air. Therefore, regular cleaning is the best way to eliminate larger allergens. Air cleaning units have air volume limitations that are identified by a “Clean Air Supply Rate” (CADR).

A CADR is the cubic feet per minute (CFM) of air from which all particles of a given size distribution have been removed. The CADR indicates the volume of filtered air delivered by an air purifier per unit of time, with three different scores for smoke, pollen and dust, representing different particle sizes. The higher the CADR number for each pollutant, the faster the unit will filter the air for contaminants in a given size range. A carbon filter is the most suitable unit for cleaning gaseous VOCs from the air, such as when new furniture is emitting gases. However, if you notice an odor in a room, contact EH&S first for an evaluation.

The best course of action is to eliminate and control the source of the odor, and EH&S can perform an evaluation to do so and develop a remediation plan. HEPA filters are better for cleaning particulates from the air. The 0.3 micron diameter specification responds to the worst case scenario or to the most penetrating particle size (MPPS). Particles that are larger or smaller are trapped with even greater efficiency. If the particle size is used in the worst case scenario, an efficiency rating is obtained in the worst case scenario (i.e.

Minimum Efficiency Report Values, or MERV, indicate the ability of a filter to capture larger particles between 0.3 and 10 microns (µm). EH&S recommends HEPA filters for particulate matter and aerosols. All filters need regular replacement as specified by the manufacturer in the product's user manual. If a filter is dirty and overloaded, it won't work well. With proper care and maintenance, a portable air filter will continue to work properly and filter the air.

Consider buying replacement filters for your air filter. Carbon filters can passively absorb VOCs from the air so make sure they remain sealed until they are installed in your unit to extend their lifespan. According to EPA there is currently no evidence to suggest that a reasonable amount of indoor plants is effective in removing significant amounts of indoor air pollutants. Indoor plants should not be overwatered because soil that is too wet can promote growth of microorganisms that can affect allergy sufferers. Ultimately both ionizers and HEPA filters work together to remove particles that float in your home's atmosphere. I especially appreciate your full and unbiased review of air ionization technology and hope to receive an equally unbiased concern in response to my question as this topic also seems to be in realm of controversy. While ionizer air purifiers are very effective at disinfecting your home's atmosphere they should be used with caution as they can also produce harmful ozone.

However ozone is very harmful you can install an ionizer that complies with UL 2998 standard which basically states that this product does not produce ozone. I suggest you hire an air quality specialist in your area to test your home's atmosphere whether it's working or not. Today's air ionizers are often equipped with ozone sensors. By following these guidelines you can ensure your home's atmosphere remains safe while still enjoying all benefits that come with using an ionizer.

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