Are Air Purifier Ionizers Really Safe For My Family?
I have owned several air purifier ionizers since 1967. Now, if you don't know the difference between an ionizer, an ozone machine, and/or the 8 other types of air purification, I suggest you watch the video below for an explanation.
I original bought several ionizers for help with asthma and allergies. Unfortunately, they actually brought on an asthma attack. I didn't know why but years later the Sharper Image "Ionic Breeze" model was removed from the airwaves for the reason that caused my attack.
Air Purifier Ionizers Can be Dangerous
It's ironic that a machine purchased to clean the air for better health can actually harm you, but it's true. The danger is not in the ionization itself but in a common byproduct: The washable "plates" in many of these air purifier ionizers creates ozone. While ozone can clear smoke and odor too much ozone can irritate or damage lungs and airways.
This fact has also created a lot of confusion among consumers who don't know the difference between ions, ionizers, negative ionizers, and ozone air purifiers. In fact, the term "ionizer" was made so popular by the Ionic Breeze model that many people think ionizer is synonymous with "air purifier."
While the most popular washable plate models do create ozone, all ionizers do not produce ozone. There are exceptions - ionizers that use very small plates, or better, yet grids (which look more like cheese graters than cookie plates) and tend to produce little or no ozone.
If, after this review, an ionizer still fits your needs, you'll have to do some research. If you have a small room to clean, a small ionizer might work for you, and might be safe from ozone. Check with the manufacture or reviews on this website to find out.
How Do Ionizers Work?
An Ionizer cleans the air as it passes through the unit. Using charged plates (electricity that is both + and -), it attracts charged molecules like a magnet. The Oreck (with it's washable Truman cells) and the Sharper Image Ionic Breeze (with it's many plates) are the most well known air purifier ionizers.
The flat plates have a tendency to create ozone because of the positive electrical charge across these plates. So while being inexpensive to manufacture, purchase, and maintain, the ionic or ionizer type of air purifiers have had a big safety problem. But there are other downsides as well.
Ionizers Won't Help Most Allergies
Despite infomercial claims, air purifier ionizers are pretty ineffective for pollen or dust allergies. Because dust and pollen have little to no electric charge the plates are pretty useless. However, if the ionizer also includes a pre-filter (which is like a screen door that the air goes through before the plates), it will hold some of the dust pollen and pet hair. But even a pre-filter is not a very effective means of removing allergens.
Ionizers will help remove smoke and odor, and if this is your only allergy it might work for you. For allergies to dust or pollen you really need a HEPA filter.
If you have a problem with smoke, pollution or odor any ionizers on the market will probably work for you in small rooms. I wouldn't pay very much for an ionizer, and I'd watch out for ozone.
If you have dust or pollen allergies then I'd look at HEPA first.