The Dangers of Air Purifiers and How to Avoid Them

Breathing in ozone, even in small amounts, can irritate the lungs and cause throat irritation, cough, chest pain and shortness of breath, as well as an increased risk of respiratory infections. Ozone is a powerful oxidizing agent that can irritate the lungs and worsen asthma and other respiratory conditions. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified ozone as a “Group A carcinogen,” meaning it is known to cause cancer in humans. Fake air purifiers, also known as ozone generators, are bad for your health and can be especially dangerous for hypersensitive people suffering from asthma and other allergies.

Inhaling a small concentration (0.08 parts per million) of ozone can cause throat irritation, chest pain, cough, swelling, and shortness of breath for 7 hours of exposure. The continuous high concentration level of ozone exposure can cause irreversible damage to olfactory organs, lung tissue cells, and other respiratory diseases. Air pollution causes about 200,000 premature deaths a year in the U. S., and has been linked to negative effects on children of pregnant mothers, such as premature births, asthma and autism.

Experts say certain types of air purifiers can be very useful. But when it comes to a popular type of purifier, so-called “ionizers”, the risks can outweigh the rewards. Ionizers produce ozone gas which is very bad in an indoor environment. Ozone is a type of oxygen molecule produced by electrostatic reactions.

At higher concentrations, it can damage lungs and respiratory tissue. For these reasons, both experts recommend omitting ionizing air purifiers in favor of mechanical purifiers or those that draw air through a filter designed to trap and retain harmful particles and contaminants. HEPA or high-efficiency particulate air refers to a type of filter that removes 99.9% of particles above a given size, a standard set by the Department of Energy. Installing this type of filter in your home's central heating and cooling system and remembering to change it every three months will go a long way in cleaning the indoor air of things that can trigger or worsen allergies and asthma.

If your home doesn't have a forced air system or if you're looking for something for your workplace, both experts recommend a portable air purifier that has a built-in replaceable HEPA filter. Store it in your bedroom or anywhere you spend most of your time and keep it running day and night. Change filters according to the product manual and keep the device away from the ground where it cannot remove dust particles that have settled. Choose a device (or filter) certified by the California Environmental Protection Agency's Air Resources Board for maximum safety. Keep in mind that air purifiers are not a standalone solution; if you live with someone who smokes indoors no device or filter is certified to remove all those secondhand smoke pollutants. Do all of that, and a portable air purifier is worth buying, especially for people with allergies or asthma, people at risk for cardiovascular disease, and families with young children.

But anyone can benefit from using an air purifier with HEPA filters which can remove 99.7 percent of the particulate matter (PM) in the air circulating in your home environment. Even so, you should consider having an air purifier with a HEPA filter in your home since although its ability to hinder the transmission of coronavirus has not been proven it can be useful in some situations. If you also want to avoid odors and fumes try air purifiers with HEPA and activated carbon filters.