Do Air Ionizers Help or Harm the Air We Breathe?

Air ionizers may be unsafe for your home

If you suffer from asthma or allergies than air ionizers or electrostatic precipitators may not be right for you.  Months of testing and investigation has led Consumer Reports to critical conclusions regarding certain air ionizers that many families use in order to keep their children and themselves safe from toxic molecules in the air.  Interestingly, Consumer Reports have come out with studies taken on five ionizing air cleaners, focusing specifically on the Sharper Image's $400 popular model, Ionic Breeze.  According to Consumer Reports Magazine's May 2005 issue, research studies conducted prove that 'the Ionic Breeze, the market leader, did a poor job removing dust and smoke from the air' and also show that some ionizing models can expose you to significant amounts of ozone.'  Ozone, a gas that, in large enough quantities, can damage the lungs, irritates the respiratory system and aggravates asthma, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Popular and highly advertised air ionizers may not only be ineffective, but unsafe and harmful household or office 'air cleansing' devices.    

According to USA TODAY, Mark Connelly, director of testing at consumer reports magazine states, 'Anyone who has respiratory problems might think 'the closer I get this thing to my head while I'm sleeping, the better.' Those people will be exposed to relatively high levels of ozone, which is not a good thing.' 

80 percent of the people who purchase air ionizers suffer from asthma, allergies, or other respiratory disorders

According to Consumer Reports, 'ozone reacts with the terpenes in lemon-and pine-scented cleaning products and air fresheners, creating formaldehyde-a carcinogen, and other irritants. Those byproducts can be absorbed by beds and carpets, and be released over an extended time frame.'  Despite the reassurance propelled by advertising campaigns supporting air ionizers which target families and children to purchase their product, the facts behind it are not visible public information.   

Consumer Reports replicated a test which used the 'sealed polyethylene room specified by Underwriters Laboratories Standard 867 to help ensure consistent results. When the Ozone levels were measured 2 inches from each machine's air discharge in accordance with the standard, all five ionizers failed the test by producing more than the 50-ppb limit-in some cases, much more.'  According to this study, Air ionizers are not functioning in the way that they are represented, publicizing their ability to efficiently clean the air.  For example, the Sharper Image advertisement on the Ionic Breeze states that the product 'significantly improves the capture rate of pollen, dander, tobacco smoke, dust and other allergens and irritants.'  The scientific findings made against air ionizers are troublesome because 80 percent of the people who purchase them suffer from asthma, allergies, or other respiratory disorders. 

Dust is not the only thing people with allergies need to worry about

Sharper Image claims that Ionic Breeze is 'the only brand of air cleaner with both the Seal of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and the endorsement of the British Allergy Foundation.'  However, findings by Consumer Reports exposes what the seal does not tell you, that is 'The AAFA's Seal of Truth program is open to manufacturers who submit a $5,000 application fee. According to the AAFA, companies are asked to submit 'independent' research for review by a panel of experts, who determine whether a product's performance meets its claims. If the panel says it does, manufacturers can apply the seal to that product for two years. Fewer than 12 allergy-related products, including vacuums and cleaning products, have the seal; Sharper Image's Ionic Breeze and Oreck's XL are the only air cleaners with it.'  Until The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reviews scientific literature on the effects of ozone-generating air cleaners, air ionizing facts have yet to be determined.

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