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The Pro & Cons of Ozone Generators in Air Purifiers

Lee Morgan

Air purifiers are consumer products that are designed to improve the overall air quality in homes and other buildings. Many air purifiers now come equipped with an ozone generator. Ozone is a clear, reactive form of oxygen gas that exists in the upper atmosphere of the earth to protect the surface from harsh ultraviolet light from the sun. On the surface, it is a substance that manufacturers of ozone generators claim has many benefits. While there is some good that comes from ozone, the cons certainly outweigh the pros for air purifiers.

Health Hazards

Although ozone is an essential element in the planet's atmosphere, on the surface it is technically a pollutant. This substance can be harmful to human health, despite some of the positive claims made by manufacturers. Moderate levels of ozone can cause eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, according to the California Department of Health Services website. Healthy, exercising adults can temporarily lose lung capacity from low levels of the substance. Asthma sufferers may experience constricted airways associated with ozone toxicity. Those who are allergic may experience heightened sensitivity to allergens when exposed to ozone. People breathing ozone increase their risk of respiratory infections and structural damage to the lungs.

False Promises

One argument against air purifiers with ozone generators is the failure to produce promised results. "They advertise ozone's ability to oxidize indoor air pollutants and 'leave only carbon dioxide, water,

and breathable oxygen,'" states the California Department of Health Services.

But ozone generators fail to clear the air of contaminants, according to the Environmental Protection Agency website. The EPA suggests that it would take many months or even years of ozone generation to counteract indoor air contaminants, despite some evidence to support the industry's claim. There is also no evidence that ozone generators can destroy viruses or mold, states the EPA. This is another common claim made by ozone generator companies.

Controls Some Smell

One advantage of having an air purifier with an ozone generator is the potential of removing some odors from your home. The smell of ozone can mask some odors, including body odor, but the source of the odor is not removed by safe levels of ozone, notes the EPA. The results are only temporary.

Often Combined With Ionizers

One minor advantage of an air purifier with an ozone generator is its association with an ionizer. Often these units are equipped with both an ozone generator and an ionizer. But it is the ionizer that actually produces the positive result. These devices are effective at attaching to dust or other particles in the air and giving them a positive or negative charge. This causes the particles to cling to walls or other surfaces as opposed to floating free through the air, where they might be inhaled.