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Air Purifiers and Ozone - Is It Dangerous?

Oct 11, 2007
There's been a lot of hype these days about whether or not the air purifiers many people have in their homes is actually causing a type of indoor smog that can be more dangerous to humans than some of the air found in America's dirtiest cities.

In a recent study published by the National Science Foundation, researchers reported findings that sent shock waves throughout the air purifying manufacturing industry. According to the study's results, products that use ionic air purifiers based on ozonolysis appeared to create high levels of ozone in the surrounding area that rivaled that of smog saturated areas such as Los Angeles, California.

Ionic air purifiers work by charging airborne particles and then attracting them to metal electrodes. While the system is touted as being highly effective in clearing the surrounding air of pollutants and allergens, according to their advocates, it is now recognized that they also emit small amounts of ozone as a byproduct during the ionization process. While standard ionic air purifiers don't seem to emit enough ozone to cause concern in the typical, well-ventilated home, those models using an Ozonolysis process t clear pollutants from the air have been found to emit even more ozone, which can build up in poorly ventilated rooms to an excess of 350 billion parts per billion. When measured outside, these levels would trigger a Stage 2 smog alert in most U.S. cities, something that hasn't even happened in southern California since the 1980's.

"These ozonolysis machines are insidious," warned Barbara Riordan, acting chairperson of the California Air Resource Board (ARB), in 2006. "They emit the same chemical that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been trying to eliminate from our air for decades."

Even more devastating, according to Riordan, is the fact that many people who already suffer from respiratory problems such as asthma and emphysema are voluntarily bringing this new danger into their homes, mistakenly believing that it will help their condition, not worsen it over time.

Making matters worse, the EPA has now officially stated in its literature that "ozone has been found to have little effect to remove indoor air pollutants," which may be making the use of these machines unnecessary anyway since science has yet to verify the authenticity of most manufacturer's claims regarding their products.

Until further research is completed, most experts agree that the safest thing to do is use a different kind of filtration cleaning system to rid your home of any indoor pollutants and allergens that may be causing your family discomfort.
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