Are Air Ionizers Good for Your Health? - A Comprehensive Guide

Air ionizers are a popular choice for air purification but are they really good for your health? Learn about potential risks associated with air ionizers before investing in one.

Are Air Ionizers Good for Your Health? - A Comprehensive Guide

Air ionizers are a popular choice for air purification, but are they really good for your health? Many people are turning to air ionizers to help reduce the amount of particles, microbes, and odors in the air, making it healthier for people to breathe, especially those with allergies, asthma, and other airway-related diseases. However, it is important to understand the potential risks associated with air ionizers before investing in one. Ozone is a naturally occurring gas that can be beneficial in the form of the protective layer that protects us from the sun's UV rays (good ozone). Unfortunately, “bad” ozone, also known as “smog”, is incredibly harmful to health if inhaled.

According to the EPA, particles contain microscopic solids or liquid droplets that are so small that they can be inhaled and cause serious health problems. Particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, also known as fine particles or PM2.5, represent the greatest health risk as they can penetrate deep into the lungs and some even reach the bloodstream. Numerous scientific studies have linked exposure to fine particle pollution to a range of health effects such as premature death in people with heart or lung disease, non-fatal heart attacks, irregular heartbeats, worsening asthma, decreased lung function, airway irritation, coughing, or difficulty breathing. Ionizers can be touted as an effective air purifier for your home; however, tests prove otherwise.

Laboratory tests were carried out with air, particulate and gas samples in a large, semi-furnished chamber and in a field test with an ionizing device installed in an air treatment unit that serviced an occupied office building. The health effects of air ionizers are largely unknown, although some recent studies are a cause for concern. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been installing ionizers in offices and restaurants. An air purifier with a high-quality HEPA filter system removes particulates from the air without producing ozone.

Because air ionizers emit ozone, harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and fine particles as a by-product, you could introduce more toxins into your environment instead of eliminating them. Most ionizers have a fan to suck in air so the particles settle in a collection dish and not on chairs and tables. Therefore, it is extremely important to consider whether the ozone produced by a typical household air ionizer is acceptable for extended exposure. An ionizing air purifier works differently from traditional purifiers with a mechanical filter such as a HEPA air purifier.

Some ionic air filters also have metal plates inside the device to collect contaminants that have been released from the air. In another recent study, air ionizers used in school classrooms reduced particle concentrations and produced some improvements in the respiratory health of 11- to 14-year-old children. Ionizers had an adverse effect on heart rate variability (a measure of cardiovascular health), so any benefit to the lungs came at a cost to the heart. One of the most popular types of air purifiers on the market right now are ion generating systems including “bipolar ionization” devices that electrically charge particles to settle in the air faster and are generally marketed to kill bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

In conclusion, while air ionizers may be effective at removing particles from the air and improving respiratory health in some cases, they may also produce ozone which can be harmful if inhaled over long periods of time. Therefore it is important to consider all factors before investing in an air ionizer for your home.