To begin with, air ionizers usually rely on the use of electronically charged ion particles to remove containments or purify the air. Everything is filled with positively charged particles which could be made up of anything like, dust, odor, microbes, etc. The primary job of an air ionizer is to release negatively charged particles which are then bonded with positively charged particles present in the room.
A typical air purifier uses fans or filters (often HEPA grade filters) to purify the air by removing confinement, unlike air ionizers which solely count on the use of electrically charged ions. When these ionizes particles join with the airborne particles, they become too heavy to float in the air and hence, fall to the ground.
Types of Ionizer Air Purifiers
There are two types of ionic air purifiers, namely the fanless and the fan base ionizers. The fan base ionizer uses its fan to circulate air around the room quickly whereas the fanless ionizer takes longer to distribute the air in comparison. The former is noisier and consumes more electricity while the latter is just the opposite.
Air ionizers can also be combined with other purification technologies, such as HEPA filters to remove excess particles from the air, or a carbon filter to remove VOCs (volatile organic compounds), and other gaseous pollutants. In fact, the best air purifiers in India come with a thoughtfully built air purifying system with these filtering stages. Sometimes, the filter also acts as the collector plate in an electrostatic purifier. In some of the available units, the ionizing function is optional and can be switched off independently of the rest of the purifier’s functions.
Benefits of Air Ionizers
To start off with, negative ions do produce a number of benefits in our natural environment. Interestingly, air ionizers and their bond with negative ions have proven to result in major health benefits, including good respiratory circulation. Let’s take a quick glance at the following benefits:
- Improved and better air quality due to removal of pollens, dust, allergens, mold spores, and other airborne bacteria.
- Reduced exposure to airborne respiratory bacteria like flu, asthmatic triggers, colds, etc.
- Better sleep cycle is yet another benefit of negative ions, along with improved mood and overall great health.
- Relief from chronic depression is an interesting benefit as, according to the reports of Columbia University, negative ions are impactful as prescribed anti-depressants.
Dangers and Side-Effects of Air Ionizers
Air ionizers create negative ions through a process of ‘electric discharge’ and during the process, these negative ions are release ozone which is a very harmful and toxic gas. Higher levels of ozone in the air can have really drastic effects on human health such as chest pain, damage to your lungs, coughing, or shortness of breath.
Is it important to note that air ionizers can only clean the air temporarily until the particles are disturbed and pushed back into the atmosphere. Therefore, its effect lasts only for a while until the environment is properly cleaned. Just like air ionizers, UV air purifiers also release ozone as a by-product. The latter can increase the chances of mercury contamination in the air through its damaged UV bulbs and hence, are not preferred over air ionizers.
Ionic Air Purifier VS HEPA Air Purifier
HEPA purifiers are designed in a way that they circulate air into the room and remove containments such as allergens, dust, etc by trapping them in filters. HEPA purifiers, unlike ionic purifiers, always use a fan and they usually do not affect the air molecules by using any type of electrostatic charge. A High-Efficiency Particulate Air filter or a HEPA filter refers to a specific type of design to meet certain air purification quality levels and efficiency. These HEPA filters are made up of very dense fiber material. They come with various features and variations, although they are pretty simple to use. They come with a fan which is generally used to draw in air and force it through the filters, to blow out fresh air into the room.
To compare ionic air purifier and HEPA air purifier-
- Ionic air purifier charges air particles which are collected on the filter and the fan pushes the air through the filter.
- The ozone production in ionic air purifiers is very small but absent in HEPA air purifiers.
- Germ killing ability in ionic air purifiers is low to good whereas, in HEPA purifiers, it is almost absent.
- Air-flow rate in ionic air purifiers is low whereas in HEPA purifiers it is high.
- Odor reduction is poor in ionic air purifiers but good in HEPA purifiers.
HEPA filters can be a decent option if you wish to remove particles such as pet dander, pollen, dust, etc, due to their efficiency and track record, whereas, a carbon filter will do the job better if you are facing problems with gaseous pollutants such as fumes from paints or bad smells.
To conclude, deciding whether or not an air ionizer is the right choice for you is a personal preference. For cities like Delhi, that face a higher level of overall pollution, it might very well be a pragmatic thing to own an indoor air purifier. Although there is no denial of the certain benefits to air ionization, there are some potential uninvited risks to it as well. In the recent scenario of the rising covid situation in 2021, reports have suggested that without properly tested air ionizers, their exposure to negative ions and by-products can actually cause negative health effects like systematic oxidative stress levels.
Thus, one must be aware of both the benefits and the threats that the use of air ionizers may pose, and indulge in proper researching and exploring different variations and options available in it. With that being said, make a wiser decision to move forward into a home with cleaner air and happy health.