Some Devices Marketed as Air Cleaners
Are Dangerous to Public Health
California Environmental Protection Agency
Air Resources Board
News release, May 31, 2006
Devices marketed as air cleaners or air purifiers are not always good for your health, a report to the California Air Resources Board (ARB) revealed last week. According to the report, there are devices that intentionally generate ozone, a key component of smog, resulting in indoor ozone concentrations well above health-based state and federal ambient air quality standards.
"Unfortunately, ozone-generating devices are often marketed to those most at risk - people with respiratory ailments or weakened immune systems," said ARB Chairman Dr. Robert F. Sawyer. "It is best for everyone to steer clear of these health-damaging devices."
The ARB report covers four devices that were tested according to manufacturer instructions in a small furnished room under common residential temperature and humidity conditions. ARB findings conclude that each device tested emitted ozone at levels that exceed health-based standards and can pose a serious health risk. One model produced room concentrations more than 4.5 times the health-based state ambient air quality standard for ozone. At elevated levels, ozone can exacerbate asthma, cause lung damage and lead to difficulty in breathing.
Air cleaners of all types are being more aggressively marketed than ever before. Today's report to the Board specifically covered devices that purposely generate ozone, which are marketed by manufacturers who make false health claims regarding the effectiveness and level of ozone being emitted from the device. Some manufacturers falsely claim that their products produce "safe" levels of ozone that remove indoor air pollutants such as particles, gases, allergens, viruses, odorous compounds, mold, and bacteria. In fact, ozone reacts with other gases to produce significant increases in other pollutants, such as formaldehyde and ultrafine particles, which are also harmful to health, all the while deadening one's sense of smell. In addition, ARB scientists have stated that at the levels produced by ozone generators, their emissions could hurt humans without affecting pathogens.
Currently, no government agency has full authority to regulate ozone generators. ARB is actively working to educate public health professionals and consumers about the dangers associated with the use of ozone generators.
For Additional Information
- ARB fact sheet: Beware of ozone-generating indoor "air purifiers
- Evaluation of ozone emissions from portable indoor "air cleaners" that intentionally generate ozone
- ARB List of hazardous ozone generators sold as air purifiers
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Ozone Generator Web site
- New concerns about ionizing air cleaners. (Consumer Reports, May 2005)
- Air cleaners: Some do little cleaning. (Consumer Reports, October 2005)
The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.
This article was posted on June 13, 2006.