The Benefits and Risks of Air Ionizers on Human Health: An Expert's Perspective

Air ionizers have been gaining traction as people look for ways to improve their home's air quality. Learn about their potential benefits & risks from an expert's perspective.

The Benefits and Risks of Air Ionizers on Human Health: An Expert's Perspective

Air ionizers have been gaining traction in recent years as people look for ways to improve the air quality in their homes and workplaces. Negative air ions (NAI) are created when air molecules break down due to sunlight, radiation, and the movement of air and water. These ions enter the body mainly through the respiratory and skin tracts, helping the exchanges between cells and the penetration of oxygen into the lungs. Some types of air ionizers have been shown to remove airborne particles, dust, cigarette smoke, pet dander, pollen, mold spores, bacteria, and viruses. The effects of air ionizers on human health are largely unknown, although a few recent studies have raised some concerns.

One of the most popular types of air purifiers on the market today are ion generating systems, including “bipolar ionization” devices that electrically charge particles so that they settle faster in the air and are typically marketed to kill bacteria, fungi, and viruses. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been installing ionizers in offices and restaurants. In a controlled environment experiment, air ionization reduced the concentration of fine particles (PM) by 70% to 75%. Another recent study on air ionizers in school classrooms reduced particulate matter concentrations and led to some improvements in the respiratory health of children ages 11 to 14. However, ionizers had an adverse effect on heart rate variability (a measure of cardiovascular health), meaning that any benefit to the lungs came at a cost to the heart. To assess these effects in my doctor's office, I decided to try an ionizing device that, in addition to the expected effects on well-being, reduces the presence of microbes, micropollutants and allergens in the indoor air that my patients breathe. The market for air purifiers is booming, but a new study has found that some air cleaning technologies that are marketed to combat COVID-19 may be ineffective and have unintended health consequences. Some critics believe that air ionizers emit dangerous levels of ozone that are not only harmful to the environment but can also be just as hazardous to health.

When inhaled in high enough doses, ozone can cause lung damage, chest pain, coughing or shortness of breath. Contrary to what their name suggests, negative ions have a positive effect on air quality and human health. The main function of air ionizers in general and TEQOYA ionizers in particular is to diffuse negative ions capable of purifying the surrounding indoor air from different pollutants that are harmful to health. While more research is needed to understand their full effects on human health, it is clear that they can be beneficial when used correctly.

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