Clean air is no longer something we can take for granted. COVID-19 has shown us that airborne viruses require comprehensive air purification protocols to keep indoor environments safe for us.
As air purification has become a necessary consideration, ion generators or ionizers have become a popular tool. While ionizer air purifiers are highly effective at disinfecting the air, they should be used with caution as they can also produce harmful ozone.
Ozone can be found in the Earth’s protective layer. This “stratospheric ozone” helps keep us healthy by filtering out damaging ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
Ozone can also be produced by internal combustion engines and power plants, among other things. That ozone is in the air we breathe: In low amounts, it can cause chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath, and throat irritation. Repeated exposure to ozone can inflame lung tissue and cause respiratory infections.
If you are interested in purifying your building’s air with ionizers or ozone generators, there are a few things you should know before using one of these powerful machines.
When we talk about ozone generators, there are two types of machines to consider. Ozone generators—These directly produce ozone for the primary purpose of reducing odors and pollutants. These devices are typically used in unoccupied spaces because the device produces levels of ozone that are higher than what is considered safe for humans. For example, if a home recently caught fire, an ozone generator could be used to clean up air debris and odor.
Ionizer air purifiers—These devices produce ozone indirectly but can still emit a large amount of ozone, especially compared to other standard household appliances. Their potential for releasing too much ozone in a small, occupied space is exceptionally high.
Ionizers are ion generators that emit negatively charged particles into the air. Contaminants and other harmful particles, on the other hand, are positively charged. Coulomb’s law essentially states that opposites attract, meaning negative ions and harmful particles attach themselves in the air, become heavier, and are pulled down to surfaces. Then, they are drawn back to the device for removal.
Ion generators can remove small particles, such as tobacco smoke, but not gases or odors, using electrostatic shock and oxidation. They are also ineffective at removing allergens and dust.
Ionizers are highly effective at removing particulate matter (PM) from the air and some surface particulates. On their own, ionizers produce too much ozone and can be harmful to people’s health. While some manufacturers claim the ozone produced by an ionizer is the same amount found in outdoor smog, they are often found to produce even higher ozone levels.
Additionally, you could consider hydroxyl radical technology, which has the power of creating hydroxyl radicals (OH) that can decompose chemicals and harmful viruses, like coronavirus, in the air.
If you consider an ionizer for reopening your business during the COVID pandemic, it is best to consider it part of a more extensive air purifier system. Such a system would include virus-targeting technologies, such as HEPA filters, PCO (or UV light technology), and ActivePure® technology. ActivePure® also oxidizes molecules and effectively removes 99.9% of airborne pathogens, targeting surface and airborne contaminants.
Luckily, to purify the air, you do not have to use an ionizer that emits harmful ozone. Instead, you can use an air purifier with multiple stages of filtration to use less of the ionization method and take advantage of filters that effectively kill viruses and pathogens and neutralize mold, gases, allergens, pet dander, and all kinds of PM.
In making the right decision about air purification devices for your building, know that you are not alone. At Sanalife, we want you to get the best product for your unique needs. While you need clean air, you do not want it at the expense of your building occupants’ health. Contact us today, and we can recommend the best air purifier to suit your company.