Until fairly recently, ionizing air cleaners were a popular economical choice to remove contaminants from the air. But a Consumers Reports investigation has concluded that many popular, best-selling models emit dangerous ozone.
Ozone production is typical of ionizing air purifiers, yet for years the amount of ozone exposure has been downplayed. Environmental studies performed have revealed several popular ionizing purifier models radiate unacceptable elevated levels of ozone.
Ozone is a faint, unstable gas that causes a cocktail of pollutants, and is lethal to our health. Exposure to excessive levels penetrates the airways, and due to its strong oxidizing properties, causes irritation of mucous membranes and lung tissue. At high concentrations even healthy adults experience decreased lung capacity.
Consumers have routinely purchased ionizing air cleaners from well known store-bought names like Plenty Air, and Sharper Image, that is, until some of these best-selling products were found to pose a risk.
According to a 2014 EPA study, elevations in ozone levels in the outside air contribute to mortality rates every year in the United States.
What CU Wished Consumers Knew
In 2003, Consumers Union released a report concluding ionizing air purifiers were ineffective and performed an unacceptable job of cleaning the air, contrary to their advertising claims. The report sparked a 2003 lawsuit filed by Sharper Image Corporation, which manufacturers Ionic Breeze – one of the top-selling ionizing air purifiers.
A California court dismissed the lawsuit, ruling Sharper Image did not prove the statements made in the CU report were false. CU recovered court costs and legal fees from the company, totaling just over half a million dollars.
The Consumers Union did acknowledge that according to updated ozone tests the air cleaners did not appear to pose any health hazards, however, none of the models tested proved to be effective, even when measured 3 feet away.
Ironically, consumers who purchase ionizing air purifiers to clean the air they breathe are actually polluting it, and not benefiting at all.
“The bottom line is these ionizing purifiers don’t perform in a way the consumer expects anyway, so why increase your level of ozone exposure, adding to the ozone already in the home, because it certainly isn’t a benefit to them”
says Jeff Asher, Consumers Union Vice President.
This goes to show you, manufacturers try to invent solutions to life’s most vexing problems, yet many companies overstate or even mislead us about the benefits.
As more people become aware of the detrimental effects the ozone has on our health, consumers will arguably become more aware of prevention, and the machines that pose more of a risk than a benefit.