I got an ozone producing air purifier to fight cigarette smoke. After a bit more research (see below), I’m taking it back. I’m going to go with plants instead. (see below). They work and produce real oxygen. I picked up my first Dracaena tonight.
Is breathing ozone air from air purifiers good or bad for your health?
Well, that depends on who you’re listening to. If you listen to the ozone air purifier salesman, he’ll claim that breathing ozone air from air purifiers is “good” and safe.
However, if you listen to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Consumer Reports, the answer is definitely “bad!” As far as the experts are concerned, breathing ozone air from air purifiers is harmful to human health. Here’s why.
Ozone is an irritant and breathing it in can worsen asthma and cause coughing, wheezing and chest pains. It also deadens your sense of smell, raises your sensitivity to pollen and mold and may even be responsible for permanent lung damage.
In fact, Consumer Reports, the EPA, Canada and some U.S. states have issued warnings against ozone from air purifiers. For example, California warns, “People should avoid using indoor air cleaning devices that produce ozone.”
Ozone is a highly effective killer that oxidizes whatever it comes into contact with. Sure, ozone kills bacteria and mold, but it’s also the same molecule responsible for the free radicals that can cause heart disease, cancer and premature aging.
Now, I’m not saying that breathing ozone air from air purifiers will kill you, but ozone is definitely not something you want to voluntarily breathe into your lungs. There’s just too much evidence against it.
However, ozone generator marketers say their machines are approved by the government. That’s simply not true. Air purifiers fall into a bureaucratic crack where there are no regulations. According to the EPA, a registration number on the packaging “does NOT imply EPA endorsement or suggest in any way that the EPA has found the product to be either safe or effective.”
Another sales pitch is that you can keep an ozone air purifier on low and only turn it up until you smell a “fresh laundry odor.” But as you breathe it in, you quickly become desensitized to the ozone smell. And keeping the setting on low, doesn’t eliminate the problem, it only makes the air from an ozone air purifier a little less dangerous.
How do these marketers get away with making such outrageous claims? Easy! Since ozone generators have no regulation, salespeople can say anything and everything they want, in order to sell their product. There’s no one to stop them.
As you can see, you should be concerned about breathing ozone air from air purifiers. There are other safer more effective choices available.
When you consider all the options, a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) purifier with an additional activated charcoal filter is your best option. The HEPA system combined with a charcoal filter works like a sponge soaking up offensive cooking, tobacco and pet odors, as well as being 99.9% effective at eliminating airborne allergens down to 0.3 microns in size. That’s small. There are over 600 microns in the period at the end of this sentence.
A HEPA system with a charcoal filter provides the best benefits, with no risk of breathing ozone air from air purifiers. – ezinearticles
First, a review of scientific research shows that, for many of the chemicals commonly found in indoor environments, the reaction process with ozone may take months or years (Boeniger, 1995). For all practical purposes, ozone does not react at all with such chemicals. And contrary to specific claims by some vendors, ozone generators are not effective in removing carbon monoxide (Salls, 1927; Shaughnessy et al., 1994) or formaldehyde (Esswein and Boeniger, 1994).
Second, for many of the chemicals with which ozone does readily react, the reaction can form a variety of harmful or irritating by-products (Weschler et al., 1992a, 1992b, 1996; Zhang and Lioy, 1994). For example, in a laboratory experiment that mixed ozone with chemicals from new carpet, ozone reduced many of these chemicals, including those which can produce new carpet odor. However, in the process, the reaction produced a variety of aldehydes, and the total concentration of organic chemicals in the air increased rather than decreased after the introduction of ozone (Weschler, et. al., 1992b). In addition to aldehydes, ozone may also increase indoor concentrations of formic acid (Zhang and Lioy, 1994), both of which can irritate the lungs if produced in sufficient amounts. Some of the potential by-products produced by ozone’s reactions with other chemicals are themselves very reactive and capable of producing irritating and corrosive by-products (Weschler and Shields, 1996, 1997a, 1997b). – epa
Many useful things have come from NASA. This one is better than Tang. This is an older study but still one I think more people should know about.
NASA Study House Plants Clean Air
In the late 1980s, a study by NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) resulted in excellent news for homeowners and office workers everywhere. The study concluded that common houseplants such as bamboo palms and spider plants not only make indoor spaces more attractive, they also help to purify the air!
The study was conducted by Dr. B.C. Wolverton, Anne Johnson, and Keith Bounds in 1989. While it was originally intended to find ways to purify the air for extended stays in orbiting space stations, the study proved to have implications on Earth as well. – cg
Common indoor plants may provide a valuable weapon in the fight against rising levels of indoor air pollution.
Those plants in your office or home are not only decorative, but NASA scientists are finding them to be surprisingly useful in absorbing potentially harmful gases and cleaning the air inside modern buildings. … NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) have announced the findings of a 2-year study that suggest a sophisticated pollution-absorbing device: the common indoor plant may provide a natural way of helping combat “SICK BUILDING SYNDROME”.
While more research is needed, Wolverton says the study has shown that common indoor landscaping plants can remove certain pollutants from the indoor environment. “We feel that future results will provide an even stronger argument that common indoor landscaping plants can be a very effective part of a system used to provide pollution free homes and work places, ” he concludes.
Each plant type was placed in sealed, Plexiglas chambers in which chemicals were injected. Philodendron, spider plant and the golden pothos were labeled the most effective in removing formaldehyde molecules. Flowering plants such as gerbera daisy and chrysanthemums were rated superior in removing benzene from the chamber atmosphere. Other good performers are Dracaena Massangeana, Spathiphyllum, and Golden Pothos. “Plants take substances out of the air through the tiny openings in their leaves,” Wolverton said. “But research in our laboratories has determined that plant leaves, roots and soil bacteria are all important in removing trace levels of toxic vapors”.
“Combining nature with technology can increase the effectiveness of plants in removing air pollutants,” he said. “A living air cleaner is created by combining activated carbon and a fan with a potted plant. The roots of the plant grow right in the carbon and slowly degrade the chemicals absorbed there,” Wolverton explains.
NASA research has consistently shown that living, green and flowering plants can remove several toxic chemicals from the air in building interiors. You can use plants in your home or office to improve the quality of the air to make it a more pleasant place to live and work – where people feel better, perform better, any enjoy life more. – zone10
TOP 10 plants most effective in removing: formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide from the air:
For an average home of under 2,000 square feet, the study recommends using at least fifteen samples of a good variety of these common houseplants to help improve air quality. They also recommend that the plants be grown in six inch containers or larger.
Here is a list of resources for more information on this important study:
PDF files of the NASA studies related to plants and air quality: here, here
List of NASA studies related to treating a variety of air and waterborne pollutants with plants: here