What to Know About Ozone Air Purifiers
What is Ozone in Air Purifiers and How Does it Clean the Air?
By Becky Dotson
12 min read
When you hear the word ozone, you probably think of the layer in the sky above us that helps filter out ultraviolet radiation from the sun. But it is also a molecule used in some air purifiers because it effectively reacts with and eliminates strong odors and airborne chemicals. It can naturally turn a bad smell into a good one. But before you buy an air purifier or generator that uses ozone technology – you should understand what you’re considering and know the dangers.
Ozone is a molecule composed of three atoms of oxygen. It is an unstable molecule that reacts with anything it bumps into. The chemical effectively removes odors and kills mold and mildew because it can react with and break down anything it comes in contact with. Unfortunately, the very thing that makes ozone so effective at removing odors also makes it dangerous. If it is present in high enough concentrations to eliminate bad smells, then it is also reacting with your skin, eyes, lungs, and other exposed areas and causing harm. It has a pleasant smell, but if you can smell it, it reacts with you and can cause long-term damage to your respiratory system.
If it’s inhaled, ozone reacts with compounds in your body and can harm your lungs. Even small amounts of ozone can cause coughing, shortness of breath, chest pains, and throat irritation. Ozone can inflame and damage your airway, make your lungs more susceptible to infection and aggravate existing breathing and lung conditions. It can even increase asthma attacks and cause Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD. Everyone is at risk, but anyone with asthma or certain vitamin deficiencies, children or older adults has a greater chance of exposure problems. The longer you are exposed to ozone, the worse the damage to your respiratory system will be.
Air purifiers are great ways to rid your home of all kinds of airborne particles – everything from mold to pet dander to pollen. You should always look for an air purifier that uses a HEPA filter. HEPA filters take the smallest of particles out of the air and keep them from reproducing. A high-performing purifier can help improve the air quality in your home for you, your family, and your pets.
When looking for an air purifier for your home or office, steer clear of HEPA/ionic air purifiers with built-in ozone-generating devices. These purifiers use electrostatic plates as their primary means of filtration and incorporate ozone to remove odors and freshen the air. If the purifier uses ozone technology, it will often be displayed prominently on the box or in the description. Still, it’s essential to read as much information as you can about the product to ensure you aren’t getting one that uses ozone. Manufacturers will sometimes use words or phrases like “activated oxygen,” “super oxygenated,” or “energized oxygen” in their description to imply healthy oxygen. Still, they are, in essence, just other ways to describe ozone technology.
In searching for ways to clean up your air and reduce odors in your home, you may also find consumer-grade personal ozone generators for sale. They produce relatively high concentrations of ozone but do not have any other particle filtration functions. They are used to remove odors but are entirely ineffective at removing airborne allergens like mold and pollen. The word ‘generator’ in the name will often help tip you off that the equipment uses ozone technology.
There are commercial grade ozone generators that perform the same function as a consumer-grade personal ozone generator. These should only be used by trained professionals and only in specific settings. Commercial grade ozone generators produce such a high ozone concentration. They should be used under strict guidelines and never in a room where a person is present.
If you’re in the market for a quality air purifier, here are some we recommend for safely ridding your home of airborne irritants and odors. None of them use ozone technology.
Ozone can be used safely, but only by professionals in particular situations. A flooded home, a sewage back-up, or a serious mold issue are appropriate reasons for technology use. If you ever need this kind of cleaning at your home or office, make sure you find a reputable company that specializes in ozone purification to come in and treat the area. In these cases, people and pets have to leave the space for some time, usually 24-48 hours, and won’t be allowed back in until the ozone is completely removed.
Why do air purifier manufacturers continue to use ozone in their products?
As mentioned above, there are cases to use ozone technology for air purification safely and effectively. But home air purifiers that use ozone are also widely available. They’re touted as a way to “clean” the air and make it smell better. Using an ozone air purifier easily gets rid of odors such as cigarette smoke. As mentioned above, ozone purifiers and generators can be used in professional and controlled situations. Still, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says they should not be sold for residential home use. Since there is no government ban on using the technology in residential air purifiers or generators, they continue to be sold.
There are certain restrictions on the amount of ozone that can be used. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has ozone exposure level recommendations that have been adopted for workplaces by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also has recommendations for ozone given off by indoor medical devices.
The state of California is one place where the government has tried to cut down on the sale and use of ozone technology for residential use. It has created a certification standard that all products sold as air purifiers in the state must comply with to cut down or eliminate the sale of air purifiers that use ozone.