Ozone air purifiers: are they dangerous? (2023)

These days, people know that the air inside your home can be just as polluted, if not more so, than the air outside your home. That is why, in recent years, air purifiers have become a fashionable product.

Ozone air purifiers: are they dangerous? (1)

Ozone is a powerful disinfectant but it will also affect your body.

One of the most promoted types of air purifiers are those that generate ozone. but it isozone all that sure? In this article, you will learn how ozone affects the body, what ozone air purifiers are, and alternatives to these devices.

Common Ways to Reduce Indoor Air Pollution

Before we start talking about air purifiers, let's go over the most common ways toreduce indoor air pollution:

Ozone air purifiers: are they dangerous? (2)

  • control source: This is when you reduce or eliminate air pollution at its source.
  • Ventilation: By diluting and expelling air pollution to the outside, you eliminate the pollutants that compromise your health.
  • clean air: Remove pollutants through proven air cleaning methods, including air purifiers.

The most effective method is source control because it removes toxins before they have a chance to get into the air. To do this, you would disinfect wet surfaces, minimize moisture, and use other hygienic practices.

The second method is also reasonably effective. It involves installing air exhaust ports near potential sources of pollutants or opening windows.

Air cleaning, the third approach, is used to complement the other two because it is not enough on its own.

What is ozone?

Ozone air purifiers: are they dangerous? (3)

We don't breathe individual oxygen molecules, we breathe dioxygen, which is two oxygen atoms joined together. When an electrical charge is applied to dioxygen, the atoms are separated and reformed into a group of three, which then becomesozone.

When an ozone molecule floats in the air, it may encounter a pollutant. If it does, one of the oxygen atoms breaks off and latches onto it, neutralizing the pollutant.

This is the source of ozone's supposed power to disinfect and deodorize.

How it harms the human body

Ozone air purifiers: are they dangerous? (4)

Many manufacturers ofair purifiersthat produce ozone claim to safely clean the air. Some companies go so far as to say that these devices have been approved by the federal government for use in occupied spaces, which is not remotely true.

In the stratosphere, ozone offers protection from the sun's UV rays. On the planet's surface, ozone is so dangerous that the EPA has classified it as an air pollutant.

Ground level ozone is even an important component of smog.

For nearly a century, medical professionals have repeatedly claimed that ozone inhalation can cause irreparable damage to the human body.

Today, the Food and Drug Administration requires that ozone levels not exceed 0.05 parts per million. This is because breathing high concentrations of ozone can cause the same kind of long-term lung damage as inhaling gasoline or glue.

Ozone air purifiers: are they dangerous? (5)

Dangerous levels of ozone can also be produced when sunlight interacts with man-made emissions, such as automobile exhaust and industrial pollution.

This can cause potentially harmful consequences for your body.

For example, if you breathe in high levels of ozone, it can damage your lungs. Other symptoms of ozone inhalation include chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath, and throat irritation.

Exercise increases the amount of ozone that reaches the lungs.

What is an ozone air purifier?

An ozone air purifier is any device that uses ozone to clean the air.

Types of ozone air purifiers

Ozone air purifiers: are they dangerous? (6)

HEPA/Ionic air purifiers with integrated ozone generating devices use filters or electrostatic plates as the primary filtration media. They use ozone to increase their cleaning power.

consumer grade personalozone generatorsThey are devices that produce relatively high concentrations of ozone but do not filter particles. Commercial grade ozone generators produce high concentrations of ozone. They should never be used in a room with a person present. These are the machines used by cleanup companies after a flood or when raw sewage has leaked into your home.

You will have to vacate your premises for 24 to 48 hours while the cleaners clean your house.

The impracticality of ozone air purifiers

Ozone can remove some (but not all) indoor air pollutants. However, it can only do this at concentrations that are so high that they violatepublic health standards. Some ozone air purifiers produce so much ozone that they cause ozone buildups that would trigger severe smog alerts for outdoor air.

Ozone air purifiers: are they dangerous? (7)

This means that if you want ozone to clean your indoor air, you'll need to leave your home for at least four hours.

That's not very practical!

No matter how high the ozone concentration, it will never eradicate biological impurities found in porous materials (such as duct lining or ceiling tiles). It won't even touch carbon monoxide or formaldehyde, two of the most insidious indoor pollutants.

Plus, ozone does a horrible job of getting rid of odor-causing chemicals. Sure, it'll mask body odor and other noxious odors with a fragrance reminiscent of fresh laundry, but it won't stop them at their source.

How the manufacturers deceive you

Studies have shown that dangerous amounts of ozone can be produced even when the user follows the manufacturer's instructions. In one study, an ozone generator recommended for spaces up to 3,000 square feet was used in a 350-square-foot room.

Ozone air purifiers: are they dangerous? (8)

Ozone levels rapidly reached 0.50 to 0.80 ppm, five to 10 times the public health limits and a dangerous amount to breathe.

Another way manufacturers mislead you is that the control buttons on most units have a major flaw in that the settings do not reflect proportional magnifications. For example, the high setting can be ten times the amount of ozone production than the medium setting.

This makes regulating the amount of ozone an almost impossible task.

Some manufacturers recommend lowering the setting if you start to smell ozone. Unfortunately, the ability to smell this compound varies greatly from person to person. Also, the closer you are to him, the less you will be able to detect his scent.

Safer Alternatives

Ratherunsafe ozone burp machines, here are the air purifiers you should use:

  • HEPA devices: HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air. HEPA filters are the only type of air purifier that meets specific EPA standards for efficiency. A filter must filter 99.7% of particles 0.3 microns or larger to meet these standards. HEPA air purifiers are effective at trapping airborne particles, but they do not remove odors, chemicals, or gases.
  • activated carbon technology: The activated carbon filters in these machines capture pollutants such as chemical emissions and cigarette smoke. They also trap odors. They're even effective at absorbing formaldehyde, which carpets, wood, and upholstery can give off into the indoor air.
  • Ozone air purifiers: are they dangerous? (9)

    HEPA filter air purifiers are a safer and more affordable alternative.

  • Ionized Air Purifiers: Ionized air filters work by generating ions, which are positively or negatively charged particles. These ions then bind to contaminant particles, causing the particles to fall harmlessly onto household or floor surfaces.
  • Hepa and Activated Carbon Combination: Air purifiers that combine HEPA filters and activated carbon technology can remove airborne particles and remove unpleasant odors. These purifiers provide the most advanced air purification available.

final thoughts

Now more than ever, it's crucial that you make sure your indoor air is as clean as possible. That is why you need to buy an air purifier.

use ourpractical Guideto facilitate your purchase. There are several different types, and some are more effective than others.

Just make sure you never buy an ozone air purifier because they don't work and can be dangerous.

Ozone air purifiers: are they dangerous? (10)


Philip Owens. respected expert on air pollution, he discovered his love for science at the young age of 8 during a school field trip toCOSI. The demonstrations he saw that day ignited a passion and set him on a path to using science to help solve everyday problems.

felipe owens

Air pollution expert


Ozone air purifiers: are they dangerous? ›

People who buy ozone generators may not be aware that ozone can harm the cells in the lungs and respiratory airways. Exposure to ozone irritates and inflames the lining of the respiratory system. This causes symptoms including coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and impaired breathing.

Is ozonated air safe to breathe? ›

Whether in its pure form or mixed with other chemicals, ozone can be harmful to health. When inhaled, ozone can damage the lungs. Relatively low amounts of ozone can cause chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath and, throat irritation.

Can you be in the house with an ozone machine? ›

The Connecticut Department of Public Health (CT DPH) recommends that ozone generators not be used in the home. Ozone is a gas that can cause health problems, including respiratory tract irritation, breathing difficulty, asthma exacerbation, and chest pain.

What are the side effects of ionizer air purifier? ›

Some critics believe that air ionizers give off dangerous levels of ozone which is not only harmful to the environment, but can be equally as hazardous to your health. When inhaled in high enough doses, ozone can have harmful effects– including damage to your lungs, chest pain, coughing, or shortness of breath.

How do I know if my air purifier emits ozone? ›

Air purifiers that may generate ozone and other harmful chemicals are listed as “Electrical” under the type column. Those that do not generate ozone or ions are listed as “Mechanical”.

Can breathing ozone cause lung problems? ›

What Kinds of Harmful Health Effects Can Ozone Cause? Ozone can damage the tissues of the respiratory tract, causing inflammation and irritation, and result in symptoms such as coughing, chest tightness and worsening of asthma symptoms.

Why did California ban ozone generators? ›

California was the first state to step up to defend consumers from false marketing claims that ozone generators are safe, effective air purifiers. In reality, ozone is a lung irritant, especially harmful to allergy and asthma sufferers. In 2009, California became the first state in the nation to ban ozone generators.

How long do you have to stay out of the room after ozone? ›

While lower levels could take 1-2 hours to dissipate, it is recommended that you not return to a room for at least 4 hours after an ozone generator has been functioning to avoid any damage to your health. Ozone has a particular smell and may still be present hours after your generator has been disconnected.

Is ozone A Carcinogen? ›

How likely is ozone to cause cancer? Ozone is not known to cause cancer in animals or humans. How can ozone affect children? Children are at high risk because they spend a lot of time outside and are more likely than adults to have asthma.

How long does the smell from a ozone machine last? ›

Will there be a leftover ozone smell? There is often a leftover faint smell of ozone the first couple weeks following a treatment. Past clients have enjoyed this smell and describe it as clean & fresh smell, similar to that after a lightning storm or after the rain. The ozone smell will continue to fade over time.

Is it safe to sleep with an air ionizer? ›

Air purifiers have a positive impact on our lives, so some may ask if that impact extends to sleep. Air pollution does not stop when we sleep, so the simple answer is yes, if you want the full benefits of your air purifier it should be running in your bedroom when you sleep.

Is it safe to be in a room with an ionizer running? ›

Do not use an ionizer in an enclosed space when someone is present. Either open a window or run the ionizer when no one is home, turning it off whenever anyone is in the room with it.

Which is better ionizer or air purifier? ›

Ionizers also purify a larger area than HEPA air purifiers and can eliminate smaller particles from the air. Air purifiers are also more expensive than ionizers.

Why does my air purifier smell like ozone? ›

Ozone is a byproduct of some air purifiers, and this might be why you have that disturbing smell in your house. Sadly, not many people realize that their air purifiers produce ozone during operation.

Which air purifier does not produce ozone? ›

HEPA filters – These filters are designed to remove 99.97 percent of all particles that are 0.3 microns in diameter from the air. While they are not effective against odors, VOCs or other gaseous pollutants, they do not produce any ozone.

Do HEPA filters remove ozone? ›

HEPA filters do not remove ozone gas. If you're concerned about indoor ozone gas pollution, your best option is to use an activated carbon filter.

What are the symptoms of too much ozone? ›

Exposure to ozone may cause headaches, coughing, dry throat, shortness of breath, a heavy feeling in chest, and fluid in the lungs. Higher levels of exposure can lead to more severe symptoms. Chronic exposure may lead to asthma. Workers may be harmed from exposure to ozone.

What are 3 harmful health effects of ozone? ›

Breathing ground-level ozone can trigger a variety of health problems including chest pain, coughing, throat irritation, and congestion. It can worsen bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma. Ozone also can reduce lung function and inflame the lining of the lungs.

How long does it take for ozone to damage lungs? ›

Controlled human exposure studies have demonstrated that short-term exposure - up to 8 hours - causes lung function decrements such as reductions in forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), and the following respiratory symptoms: Cough. Throat irritation.

Why do air purifiers have a prop 65 warning? ›

Simply put, the warning means that the manufacturer believes the product might contain any of the 800-plus chemicals that the State of California considers harmful. It does not mean that the labeled products themselves are necessarily harmful or are in violation of any safety standard.

What does ozone smell like? ›

Ozone has a very characteristic pungent odor, sometimes described as like chlorine bleach, and it can sometimes be detected after lightning strikes or during electrical discharges. Individual humans vary in their ability to smell ozone; some people can smell it at levels as low as 0.05 ppm.

Why is ozone not FDA approved? ›

Ozone gas is toxic to humans, and there has been little research into the safety of ozone therapy. For this reason, official organizations do not currently support its use.

Does ozone permanently damage lungs? ›

Ozone damages the cells that line the air spaces in the lung. Within a few days, the damaged cells are replaced and the old cells are shed–much in the way skin peels after a sunburn. If this kind of damage occurs repeatedly, it may lead to permanent damage to your lungs that could cause a lower quality of life.

How long does ozone stay in your blood? ›

Ozone enters your body and lasts for approximately 10 minutes and promotes glutathione production when it meets with proteins in your blood. Ozone creates reactive oxygen species: alkenes, alkynes, super oxygen ions, peroxides, peroxiles.

Can ozone go through walls? ›

Ozone does not penetrate walls, floors, or other surfaces. While it can get into nooks and crannies, ozone can only tackle air born mold and surface mold.

Who is at risk from ozone? ›

Who is at risk? People most at risk from breathing air containing ozone include people with asthma, children, older adults, and people who are active outdoors, especially outdoor workers.

What is most harmful to ozone? ›

When chlorine and bromine atoms come into contact with ozone in the stratosphere, they destroy ozone molecules. One chlorine atom can destroy over 100,000 ozone molecules before it is removed from the stratosphere. Ozone can be destroyed more quickly than it is naturally created.

How air purifiers can be harmful and aggravate health conditions? ›

Air purifiers that use ozone are bad for your health

Certainly, these products generate significant amounts of ozone that, if inhaled, can cause long-term damage to olfactory cells and lungs.

What smells does ozone remove? ›

Ozone is very effective in eliminating odors including tobacco smoke, human and pet odors, food odors, mold and mildew odors, garbage odors, renovation odors and much more. It is not a re-odorant. It totally destroys the offending gases that are the source of everything we smell.

Does ozone machine get rid of dog smell? ›

Treating the space with ozone (O3) is very effective in pet odor removal because it attacks these odors at their source. Commercial rental companies, veterinary offices, homes, apartments, and even vehicles can all utilize ozone as a permanent pet odor eliminator.

Does ozone really remove smoke smell? ›

Smoke from cigarettes, fireplaces, fires and other sources gives a strong odor that can penetrate floors, walls and furniture. Ozone can treat and effectively remove most of the odor.

Should I run my air purifier all day? ›

Since air pollution is a pervasive and continuous problem, it's best to leave your air purifier on all day. There are no perceived drawbacks to keeping your unit running all the time, and if the filters are changed on time it can help to reduce pollutants in the home.

How close to bed should air purifier be? ›

The best place to put an air purifier is somewhere in your breathing zone. The closer the unit is to your head, the shorter distance clean air has to travel before it reaches you. In the bedroom, this usually translates to putting the air purifier on a nightstand or small table close to the bed.

What is the difference between ionizer and ozone? ›

An ozone generator produces ozone that attacks the source of odor causing gases through a process called oxidation and permanently removes the odor. This is very different from a negative ion generator, or ionizer, whose primary purpose is to reduce particles like dust and pollen floating around in air spaces.

Does an ionizer remove mold? ›

Ionization Treatment at your HVAC system Kills Mold, Viruses and Bacteria.

Are ozone machines safe? ›

Breathing high levels of ozone can worsen asthma symptoms. Breathing ozone for a short period of time may worsen symptoms in people with heart disease. Ozone can react with other chemicals in the air to produce additional chemicals and fine particles that can also be irritating to the eyes, nose, throat and lungs.

Do air ionizers help with COVID? ›

When used properly, air cleaners and HVAC filters can help reduce airborne contaminants including viruses in a building or small space. By itself, air cleaning or filtration is not enough to protect people from COVID-19.

Why not use ionizer? ›

Under certain use conditions, ion generators and other ozone generating air cleaners can produce levels of this lung irritant significantly above levels thought harmful to human health.

Is HEPA filter better than ionizer? ›

Through specific and particular research, experts have found that HEPA technology air purifiers are an all-around better air purifier when compared to ionizers.

How often do you need to clean an ionizer? ›

The emitter pins should be cleaned at least every six months. However, more frequent cleaning may be required if used in environments with more contaminants. Over time electrode pins may produce a white build up.

How do you remove ozone from indoor air? ›

Your best option might be to keep the windows closed, especially on warm and sunny days with little or no wind. Running an air purifier that can remove ozone in your home, either with a carbon filter or using PECO technology, may help lower ozone levels indoors.

Why am I smelling ozone in my house? ›

Burning, Smoky Odors

The smell of ozone, common during a lightning storm, could mean overheated electrical wires or appliances, overloaded circuits, frayed or loose wiring, or incorrectly sized breakers or fuses.

Why does ozone smell like rain? ›

The scent of ozone heralds stormy weather because a thunderstorm's downdrafts carry O3 from higher altitudes to nose level. Once the rains arrive, other odors come with them. Falling water disturbs and displaces odoriferous molecules on surfaces, particularly on dry ones, and carry them into the air.

How do I know if my air purifier is ozone free? ›

Air purifiers that may generate ozone and other harmful chemicals are listed as “Electrical” under the type column. Those that do not generate ozone or ions are listed as “Mechanical”.

Do all air purifiers create ozone? ›

There's no ozone emission from air purifiers that use only high-efficiency particulate air filters (HEPA filters) to cleanse the air. Ionizing air purifiers, because of their electric charge, do create ozone.

Does Dyson air purifier emit ozone? ›

TP02 Air Quality Monitoring and HEPA filter, so no it does not produce Ozone.

What are the side effects of air purifiers? ›

Specific effects may include throat irritation, coughing, chest pain and shortness of breath, as well as an increased risk of respiratory infections. Some ozone air purifiers are made with an ion generator, sometimes called an ionizer, in the same unit. You can also buy ionizers as separate units.

How long can you inhale ozone? ›

New studies warn of serious effects from breathing ozone over longer periods. With more long-term data, scientists are finding that long-term exposure—that is, for periods longer than eight hours, including days, months or years—may increase the risk of early death.

What does ozone air smell like? ›

Ozone has a very characteristic pungent odor, sometimes described as like chlorine bleach, and it can sometimes be detected after lightning strikes or during electrical discharges. Individual humans vary in their ability to smell ozone; some people can smell it at levels as low as 0.05 ppm.

How long does it take for ozone to dissipate? ›

Ozone will be in the air from 30 minutes up to 4 hours before it will disperse back into oxygen. The higher the concentration levels of ozone the longer it will last in our indoor environment.

At what level of ozone in the atmosphere is toxic? ›

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to ozone levels of greater than 70 parts per billion for 8 hours or longer is unhealthy. Such concentrations occur in or near cities during periods where the atmosphere is warm and stable.

Is ozone lung damage reversible? ›

Individuals exposed to O3 levels in human experiments at higher than common ambient levels develop reversible reductions in lung function often associated with symptoms, such as airway hyperreactivity and lung inflammation.

What are the side effects of ozone machine? ›

The Hidden Dangers of Ozone Machines

This chemical is also a known carcinogen (i.e. a substance that causes cancer) and can irritate the eyes, skin, and lungs and worsen asthma-like symptoms.

Can you run an ozone machine too long? ›

If you run the high-output ozone machine for too long you may create an adverse reaction leading to a new odor problem all together. For this reason we demand that our machines not exceed 8 hours of continuous run time for any project. See (B8) 'Rinse & Repeat Pattern'.

How do you check for ozone in your house? ›

Electrochemical sensors are the go-to solution for measuring ozone indoors, where they can provide accurate and consistent measurements and clearly 'single out' ozone among other VOCs.

How long does ozone last in a house? ›

Before dissipating back into oxygen, ozone lasts 30 minutes to 4 hours in the air. Higher ozone concentrations may take 3–4 hours to evaporate, while lower doses may take less than 2 hours. It is advised that you wait 4 hours after utilizing an ozone generator before returning to the room.

What happens when you inhale ozone? ›

Exposure to ozone may cause headaches, coughing, dry throat, shortness of breath, a heavy feeling in chest, and fluid in the lungs. Higher levels of exposure can lead to more severe symptoms. Chronic exposure may lead to asthma. Workers may be harmed from exposure to ozone.

Will ozone remove musty smell? ›

Ozone goes directly to the source and will oxidize away the stale, unpleasant odors often found in damp areas, or those with little air circulation. O3 is very effective in removing musty odors.

Is ozone more toxic than carbon monoxide? ›

In general, 03 is much more harmful to plant life than CO because plants are capable of absorbing and metabolizing small amounts of CO.


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