Ozone air purifiers provide a method for sanitizing the air and removing harmful chemical substances and bacteria. While they were primarily used in medical settings, smaller ozone air purifiers were eventually made for consumer use.
These devices quickly became popular before the potential dangers of ozone were discovered. While ozone air purifiers are still available, many consumers do not know whether these devices are safe to use in their homes.
If you are looking for a way to purify the air in your home, ozone air purifiers may offer a suitable solution. However, you should first understand how these devices work and the possible health risks associated with ozone.
What Are Ozone Air Purifiers?
Ozone air purifiers or ozone generators are devices that produce and release ozone into the air. Ozone is a gas that can help kill bacteria, mold, and viruses in the air, helping to maintain a sanitary environment.
To produce the ozone, these generators typically use a silent corona discharge. A small wire called a corona wire is used to create an electric discharge. This silent corona discharge produces the ozone gas, which is then dispersed into the room.
The ozone gas is a molecule that is composed of three oxygen atoms while the oxygen that we breathe is composed of two oxygen atoms. Ozone is an unstable molecule that alters the composition of any organic matter that it bumps into.
When ozone bumps into bacteria or mold spores, the reaction kills these substances. Along with bacteria and mold, ozone can help eliminate viruses and odors.
While ozone is effective at removing microscopic organic molecules, it does not help remove larger airborne particles such as dust or pet dander.
There are several different types of ozone generators, including a couple of options that are marketed as ozone air purifiers. The main types of ozone devices include:
- Filtered air purifiers with ozone-generating features
- Consumer-grade ozone air purifiers
- Commercial-grade ozone generators
The filtered air purifiers combine ozone with filtration media to remove particles and harmful bacteria. This includes air purifiers containing HEPA filters and activated carbon filters to remove dust, pet dander, and other airborne particles.
The consumer-grade ozone air purifiers are the standard ozone generators that are available for home use. These devices may produce harmful levels of ozone in a residential setting depending on the output of the device, the size of the room, and the ventilation of the room.
Commercial-grade ozone generators are larger devices that produce unsafe levels of ozone. They are mostly used in medical facilities such as hospitals or clinics where staff needs to maintain sanitary conditions. However, these ozone generators are used when an area is unoccupied to limit the health risks.
The consumer-grade ozone air purifiers are the typical ozone generator that you will find for sale online or in stores. The design of these devices can vary. You can ozone air purifiers designed for placement on a desk, the floor, or the wall.
These devices also include a variety of features to give users more control. These features may include timers, speed settings, and ozone monitoring. Devices that feature a built-in ozone detector can monitor the levels of ozone in the atmosphere. Depending on the device, they may shut down when the safe threshold is reached or may reduce its speed.
The speed settings control the rate of ozone generation and are typically used to adjust the release of ozone based on the environment. For example, you may need to increase the speed when using the device in a larger room or slow the speed in a smaller room.
Benefits and Dangers of Ozone Air Purifiers
The main advantage of using an ozone air purifier is the effectiveness of these devices. Ozone air purifiers can help sanitize the air. They may help kill microbes, bacteria, and viruses. Ozone may also help reduce the spread of mold.
Using an ozone air purifier may help you maintain a cleaner environment and reduce the risk of airborne disease. When used correctly, these devices work quickly to kill these substances. They are also one of the few devices that can help eliminate these airborne threats.
Along with bacteria and viruses, ozone air purifiers are also useful for eliminating odors. They help kill chemicals and molecules that produce odors. However, instead of leaving the room odorless, the ozone produces its own smell.
Many people believe that ozone smells similar to a combination of chlorine and fresh laundry. It produces a crisp, fresh scent that leaves the room smelling cleaner.
While ozone air purifiers provide several benefits, there is also a potential danger. These purifiers work by producing ozone, which is known to be a harmful product.
As mentioned, ozone molecules alter the chemical composition of other molecules. This reaction is beneficial for eliminating bacteria but harmful for humans, pets, and plants.
Ozone interacts with all organic molecules that it bumps into, including your molecules or those of your pets or plants. When inhaled, ozone poses a severe risk to humans.
You may experience chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing, and throat irritation. It is also known to cause lung damage.
There are many groups that believe that ozone-generating devices should be banned. In fact, the state of California recently did just this. They banned the sale of ozone purifiers for consumer use and created strict guidelines for products marketed as air purifiers.
Despite the potential risks, ozone air purifiers are still available to consumers. However, there are ways to determine whether an ozone generator is producing unsafe levels of ozone.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established recommendations for safe limits of ozone exposure. According to the EPA, concentrations of ozone that exceed 0.08 parts per million (ppm) are potentially harmful.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also imposes restrictions on the output of ozone-generating medical devices. This limit is 0.05 ppm.
Some manufacturers list the output of their devices or provide a recommended room size. If a purifier that is meant for a large space is used in a smaller room, the room is likely to end up with unsafe ozone levels.
Besides paying attention to the output or recommended room size of the device, users may limit the risk of ozone exposure by adjusting the settings on the air purifier. Many ozone purifiers include multiple speeds to increase or decrease the output.
When the ozone gas is kept below the safety limits, the odor of the gas should be barely detectable. Ozone gas has a distinct, fresh odor that is similar to the scent of chlorine. If you detect this clean smell when entering a room, the ozone generator is likely producing too much ozone.
Q: Which Air Purifiers Produce Ozone?
A: Air purifiers that use ozone technology or ionizing technology produce ozone. However, the amount of ozone generated by these devices can vary. The main types of air purifiers that produce ozone include:
- Ozone air purifiers
- Air purifiers with ozone-generating devices
- Ionic air purifiers
Devices that are marketed as ozone air purifiers, either for consumer or commercial use, generate ozone as their primary method of purifying the air. These devices rarely include effective filtration and are only used for the removal of bacteria, viruses, chemicals, and odors.
The consumer ozone air purifiers may include a pre-filter, which is used to help with the collection of dirt and debris. However, these thin filters are ineffective at removing allergens such as pollen or mold from the air.
The HEPA-filter air purifiers that feature ozone technology combine a more effective filter with limited use of ozone. These devices are less likely to produce harmful levels of ozone when used properly.
Air ionizers or ionizing devices may also produce low concentrations of ozone. These devices apply a negative charge to ions. These ions are similar to ozone molecules as they are basically oxygen atoms with an extra molecule. However, instead of a third oxygen molecule, these devices add an electron.
The negatively-charged ions attract airborne particles. When these particles attach to the ion, they become too heavy to remain in the air. Instead of killing bacteria and viruses, these devices help knock dust and pollen out of the air. The debris then settles on the ground and surfaces.
With an ionic air purifier, a small amount of ozone is generated. The ozone generation occurs when the ions are charged. This process naturally creates a limited amount of ozone that is released into the air. However, the ozone levels produced by these devices are considered safe for use in your home.
Air Purifiers That Don’t Produce Ozone
Ozone generators are not the only type of air purifiers available. There are several options that do not produce ozone, including:
- HEPA filters
- Activated carbon filters
- UV light air purifiers
HEPA filters and activated carbon filters do not produce any ozone. They rely on filtration to help remove harmful particles from the air. However, they do have limitations compared to an ozone air purifier.
With a quality HEPA filter, you can effectively remove most bacteria and viruses. These filters may also trap dust, pollen, and pet dander. They do not trap odors or chemicals. HEPA filters are also ineffective against gases, including ozone gas.
The filter is made from fine fibers that are folded in an accordion shape to create a larger surface. As air passes through the filter, bacteria, viruses, and airborne particles are trapped in the fibers.
Activated carbon filters also help trap airborne particles. These filters contain tiny pores that can trap and bond a variety of pollutants. With an activated carbon filter, you may trap chemicals, cigarette smoke, odors, and gases.
The HEPA and activated carbon filters are typically housed inside plastic or metal cases. The case also includes at least one fan and two vents. The fan helps draw air into the purifier and through the filter. These devices continue to circulate the air through the filter, removing more pollutants with each cycle.
The use of UV lamps to create UV radiation is another technology that is found in air purifiers. With UV technology, UV rays are radiated to help kill germs, including bacteria and viruses.
The UV air purifiers work similarly to the filtered air purifiers. They typically include a fan to help circulate air through the air purifier. However, instead of trapping particles with a filter, these devices use a UV lamp to expose the air to UV rays. These UV rays then kill the bacteria or viruses. However, they do not remove airborne particles.
As UV technology does not get rid of dust, pet dander, and pollen, these UV air purifiers often include one or more pre-filters. These filters may even include HEPA or activated carbon technology.
If you want to avoid ozone, pay attention to the technologies used by the air purifier. You may also find air purifiers that use filters or UV light combined with ozone technology. These devices typically produce lower levels of ozone compared to a standard ozone generator. However, they still produce ozone.
Last Thoughts on Ozone Air Purifiers
Ozone generators may provide an effective method for killing bacteria, mold, and viruses while also eliminating odors. However, they do create a potential health hazard. Even in low concentrations, ozone can be harmful to people and pets.
The EPA has established safe limits for ozone. Ozone air purifier manufacturers commonly provide a room size recommendation or list the amount of ozone that their devices output each hour.
Using a device in a smaller room may result in higher concentrations of ozone in the air. If you want to enjoy the benefits of ozone, look for devices that do not exceed the EPA recommendations.
You may also want to consider the use of air purifiers that do not produce ozone, such as purifiers with HEPA filters, activated carbon filters, or UV lights. The filters help capture airborne particles while the UV lights are effective at killing bacteria and viruses.
None of the air-purifying technologies eliminates 100% of harmful pollutants from the air. Some of these devices are better at trapping chemicals and less effective at trapping dust while other purifiers provide the opposite results.
If you want the most effective solutions, you should consider purchasing an air purifier that combines several technologies.