Are Ionic Air Purifiers Safe? (Dangers To Watch Out For)

Josh Mitchell

Written By

Josh Mitchell

Expert Reviewed By

Holly Curell

Last Updated On

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Key Takeaways

  • Ionic Air Purifiers are safe as long as they do not have ozone generators. Ionic Air Purifiers that have ozone generators are dangerous.
  • Safe Ionic Air Purifiers work by releasing negatively charged ions to clean the air. This can sometimes create ozone. However, contrary to popular belief, the risks are almost negligible.
  • If you have an ionic air purifier with an ozone generator, make sure to check if its ozone PPB are in safe levels.

Just like everyone else, I want clean, fresh air. And what better way to achieve that than with an air purifier?

However, before investing in an ionic air purifier to improve your indoor air quality, there are a few things I think you should keep in mind.

These devices may eliminate pollutants from the air and air purification, but they may also come with a few safety concerns.

Using ionizer air purifiers could pose hidden dangers that lurk undetected and potentially surpass the adverse effects of dirty air.

Below we’ll explore the ins and outs of these purifiers and the risks you should consider.

Are Ionic Air Purifiers Safe To Use In Homes?

While ionic air purifiers can effectively remove airborne particles, they also produce ozone, which can be harmful to human health.

Ionizers release negatively charged ions into the air to clean and sterilize it, which can create potential health risks.
Are ionic air purifiers safe

The good news is that air ionizer dangers are typically negligible. Negative ions occur naturally in the environment, produced by energy sources like sunshine, lightning, and waterfalls.

So, breathing in negative ions is safe.

However, the safety of air ionizers depends on whether they have an ozone generator. If it’s just an ionizing device without an ozone generator, or it allows you to control the ozone production level, it’s generally safe to use.

ACLAB Note:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies ozone as a toxic gas that damages the lungs triggers asthma attacks, and even increases the risk of death. So ozone is something you don’t want to play around with.

Some ionizer air purifiers are ozone-generating air cleaners, so it’s essential to know how much ozone they produce, and what’s considered dangerous. 

To do that, we’ll look at the PPBs (parts per billion) produced. Different places throughout the world have different standards for ozone generators.

“In 2005, California established an 8-hour standard of 70 PPB and a one-hour standard of 90 PPB,” says IAQ Science.

Are these standards rigid enough for devices that emit ozone? Let’s take a look:

  • 0 – 50 PPB
    No health impacts should be incurred when ozone levels are within these numbers. Air ionizers sold in California cannot produce more than 50 PBB.
  • 51 – 100 PPB
    If you are particularly sensitive to ozone, you’ll need to limit exposure to ozone generators at this level.
  • 100 – 200 PPB
    These are downright unhealthy levels. While everyone should avoid exposure to ozone in this range, those who are more sensitive should place even more attention to avoiding it.
  • 200 – 400 PPB
    This is the danger zone. Avoid these levels at all costs.

TL;DR: Yes, Ionic Air Purifiers are safe to use indoor as long as they do not have an ozone generator. If they do generate ozone, make sure the production is between 0-50 PBB.

Pros & Cons Of Ionic Air Purifiers

Now that we’ve discussed some potential dangers, let’s take a look at the pros and cons to decide if an ionic air purifier is worth it for you.

Pros
  • Ionic Air Purifiers are quite.
  • They do not use a lot of energy.
  • No replacement filters requires.
  • Cheaper to operate and maintain
  • Highly effective against remove odors.
CONS
  • Ozone production is the biggest concern. 
  • Buildup of ozone concentration in your home may quickly result in an unhealthy environment.
  • Ionizers are not as effective as mechanical air purifiers with HEPA filters and activated carbon.

TL;DR: While there are some benefits to Ionic Purifiers, if you want to thoroughly clean the air, mechanical air purifiers with HEPA filters and activated carbon are preferred.

Ionic Air Purifiers: How Exactly Do They Work?

Ionic air purifiers work by producing a constant stream of negatively charged ions into the air of your home.

These negative ions attach to nearby positively charged particles like airborne molecules (smoke, dander, etc.). 

These small particles batch together, causing them to be too heavy to be suspended in the air, so they fall.

The main difference between an ionizer air purifier and other types is that ionic models use these ions to remove airborne contaminants, while others mechanical filtration. And Ionic air cleaners emit ozone to get the job done.

do air purifiers give off radiation

There are 2 main types of ionizer air purifiers. Let’s take a brief look at each one:

Electrostatic Precipitator Ionizer

Electrostatic Precipitator Ionizers use corona discharge to release charged ions into the air. 

These ions attach themselves to airborne particles and are collected by a flat plate with the opposite charge.

Ion Generators

Ion generators work by releasing charged ions into the air, but they don’t use plates to collect the pollutants.

Instead, they create ions through corona discharge or UV lights, which then stick to surfaces in the room. Unfortunately, this means that there’s no effective way to collect these pollutants.

TL;DR: Ionic air purifiers work by releasing negative ions in the air. These negatively charge the particles in the air thus making them heavier and attracting them to positive and neutral surfaces.

Ozone Side Effects & Dangers To Human Health

While these purifiers are certainly great for many purposes, the ozone they produce can cause some adverse effects on human health. 

Even inhaling just a bit of ozone can be damaging to the lungs.

The following are some of the side effects and conditions it can cause:

  • Coughing
  • Throat Irritation
  • Breathing Discomfort (pain, burning in the chest when taking a deep breath, shortness of breath)
  • Chest Tightness or Wheezing
  • Worse asthma
  • More vulnerability to respiratory infections

ACLAB Note:

If you feel any of these symptoms aggravate when you turn on your Ionic air purifiers, it is best to turn it off, and consult with a physician.

How To Tell If Your Purifier Produces Ozone

Now that we know these purifiers can produce ozone, we need to be able to identify the signs.

Of course, the best way to go about this is to read through the manufacturer’s website or manual, but the following tips are also reliable:

  • The Ozone Smell
    This is usually the top sign an air purifier is emitting ozone. It smells very unique – almost like bleach or antiseptic.
  • Blue Light
    If your air purifier starts shining a blue light, then you have a UV lamp. Ultraviolet light creates ozone, so this is crucial to pay attention to.
  • Dusty Surfaces
    If your purifier and surfaces around it are particularly dusty, it’s because the air cleaner is producing negative ions which attach to dust. This causes the dust to fall onto the surface, and this kind of ionizer also creates ozone as a byproduct.

TL;DR: If the device is a strong ozone producer, then you can most probably smell it. Otherwise, it is best to either check the manual or contact the manufacturer to confirm.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Do Ionizers Kill Mold?

Ionizers could help kill mold spores. It’s not a sure thing, but air purifiers may help to clean the air and reduce mold exposure within your home.

Can Ionic Air Cleaners Get Rid Of Cigarette Smoke?

Ionic air cleaners can help get rid of tobacco smoke. They help remove tobacco smoke particles from the air and other types of smoke in general.

Is It Safe To Be In A Room With Ionic Air Cleaners?

It’s safe to be in a room with ionic air cleaners if the window is open. However, it’s important to avoid being in an enclosed space when an ionizer is running.

How Do I Know If My Ionizer Is Working?

To know your ionizer is working you should first check to see if fluff and dust have been collected on the ionizer’s metal rods which produce ions. If it’s working, you’ll see this dust and fluff. You will also see pollutants collected in the “pollutant collector compartment.”

However, the easiest method is to simply check its airflow by placing your hand and see if there’s a breeze.

What Are the Types of Air Purifiers?

The types of air purifiers are:

  • Activated carbon filters
  • HEPA air purifier
  • Ionic purifier
  • UV-C light air purifiers
  • Ionic air purifiers
  • Ozone generators
Are HEPA Filters Better Than Ionizers?

HEPA purifiers are generally more effective than ionizers at improving air quality. 

This is because a HEPA purifier uses mechanical filtration to physically capture particles and pollutants in the air, whereas ionizers rely on charged ions to attract particles, which may not always be effective in capturing all types of pollutants.

So Should You Get an Ionic Purifier? 

I can attest that while these devices can help enhance indoor air quality, they do come with drawbacks. You need to keep in mind that ionic air purifiers have the potential to generate harmful ozone.

If you decide to purchase an ionizer, always use them safely and responsibly by keeping ozone levels in check and steering clear of enclosed areas with high concentrations of ions.

Based on my personal experience, I strongly recommend following these guidelines to ensure that you can reap the benefits of these devices while mitigating any potential harm.


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Josh Mitchell

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Josh Mitchell
My name is Josh and I am obsessed with home appliances. From portable AC units to heaters and air purifiers, I enjoy testing, learning and using these devices to improve the air quality inside my family home.

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Midea U Shaped Window Air Conditioner

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