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Ozone in Air Purifiers

Many people believe that ozone is not harmful to people. Indeed, people are likely to cite the benefits of ozone...

Many people believe that ozone is not harmful to people. Indeed, people are likely to cite the benefits of ozone in our atmosphere as evidence that ozone is actually beneficial to us. And while it is absolutely true that the ozone layer in our atmosphere protects us, it is also true that ozone, when breathed in, is incredibly bad for our lungs. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) describes ozone as “good up high, bad nearby”.[1] What they mean by this is that while atmospheric ozone is good for us, ozone that we breathe in is never good for us. The reason for this is due to the fact that ozone is a volatile compound that reacts quickly with organic matter. In the atmosphere, ozone blocks incoming UV rays from the sun, but if it gets into our lungs, the ozone will react with our respiratory lining and cause many different problems. Given a high enough concentration of ozone, the following symptoms may appear:

    • Worsening asthma
    • Irritation of throat and lungs
    • Chest pain
    • Shortness of breath
    • Lung tissue inflammation

      One must also keep in mind that some people are more sensitive to the effects of ozone than others. Even an ozone generator used in homes that normally only produces very small quantities of ozone can cause these symptoms to appear.

      But what about in air purifiers? Is ozone also created in air purifiers? The answer is yes, but this is only for air purifiers with built-in ionizers. Ionizers are often used in air purifiers to get rid of the smaller particulate matter in the air by giving it an electrical charge. This charged particulate matter then seeks an earthed object such as a wall or floor in order to get rid of its charge. This may be all well and good, but the charged plates used to give the particulate matter an electrical charge creates small amounts of ozone. This small amount of ozone, while much smaller in quantity than an actual ozone generator, may still cause respiratory problems to people with very sensitive respiratory tracts. As mentioned earlier, some people are inherently more sensitive to ozone in the air than others, and as such, these people should avoid ionizers in their air purifiers. In addition, smaller amounts of ozone can actually be considered a larger amount of ozone for infants or small children, considering the relative size of an adult to a child.

      While the use of ionizers in air purifiers are not necessarily a bad thing, people should be more acutely aware of its potential problems, as asthma has slowly been on the rise in the United States for the past few decades. [2] The simplest solution to this potential problem is to get an air purifier that does not have an ionizer, or to just turn off the ionizer of the air purifier.

       


      References

      [1] Ozone Generators that are Sold as Air Cleaners

      [2] Asthma Prevalence in the United States

       

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