Ionic Breeze Air Cleaner--Good or Bad for folks with lung conditions
Hi! My brother gave us an Ionic Breeze Air Cleaner from Sharper Image for Christmas. I've read that ionizing air cleaners produce ozone which is bad for those of us with lung conditions. All four of us in this household have asthma & I have moderate to severe emphysema as well. Is the Ionic Breeze Air Cleaner good or bad for those of us with lung conditions such as asthma & emphysema? Thanks for your guidance on this!
Ozone is a respiratory irritant. It can make breathing problems worse. When people with breathing problems use an air cleaner they should choose one that does not produce ozone, such as a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) cleaner.
"Health Hazards of Ozone-generating Air Cleaning Devices
Ozone-generating devices are being marketed to the public as a solution to indoor quality problems. Ozone generators are available in three forms: in-duct units for central air systems, portable indoor units, and personal units that are worn on the body. They are promoted as effective "air purifiers", especially to people sensitive to indoor air pollutants. Manufacturers often refer to the ozone as activated oxygen, trivalent oxygen or nature's air purifier to suggest that it is safe. They advertise ozone's ability to oxidize indoor air pollutants and "leave only carbon dioxide, water, and breathable oxygen." However, independent studies have shown that ozone generators do not effectively destroy microbes, remove odor sources, or reduce indoor pollutants enough to provide any health benefits. More alarming, these devices can generate excessive levels of ozone and may contribute to eye and nose irritation or other respiratory health problems for users.
Health Hazards of Ground-Level Ozone
Ozone in the upper atmosphere (or stratospheric ozone) is naturally occurring and environmentally beneficial; it shields the Earth's surface from the sun's harmful ultraviolet light. It is important not to confuse this with the fact that ozone in the Earth's lower atmosphere, where we live and breathe, is a harmful air pollutant. Ground-level ozone is regulated by Federal and State Clean Air legislation. The California Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone is 90 parts per billion (ppb) averaged over one hour. The Federal regulation is in transition; a new standard of 80 ppb for 8 hours is being phased in to replace the existing 1 hour standard of 120 ppb.
The State and Federal standards are supported by documented health effects of ozone measured in human and animal studies; these are summarized in a number of government reports(1),(2),(3). Exposures to ozone concentrations can cause various health effects(4),(5):
Moderate levels can irritate the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs.
Low-level exposures have been shown to cause significant temporary decreases in lung capacity in healthy, exercising adults.
Some asthmatic individuals are especially susceptible to ozone toxicity, which includes constricting airways.
Short-term exposures can cause increased sensitivity to airborne allergens and other irritants, and it can impair the body's immune system.
Summertime ozone episodes in the northeastern U.S. lead to 10-20% increases in hospital admissions and emergency room visits.
Human population studies of long-term exposures to low-level ozone indicate that it may lead to permanent reduction in lung capacity; animal studies have shown chronic high-level exposures can cause lasting structural damage in the lungs.
Children, especially asthmatics, are most at risk from exposure to ozone.
Are Ozone-Generating Air Cleaners Safe and Effective?
The permissible exposure limit for ozone in the workplace is 100 ppb for 8 hours(6). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set the limit for ozone produced by medical devices at 50 ppb. Ozone is often used in water to kill microbes. However, it is not effective in air as a biocide (i.e. killer of bacteria and fungi), except at extremely high, unsafe levels(7) (e.g. more than 3000 ppb). Ozone's effectiveness to oxidize chemical air pollutants "to leave only carbon dioxide, water, and breathable oxygen" is also unproven. A number of independent studies have concluded that safe levels of ozone do not effectively oxidize air pollutants or improve indoor air quality(8),(9),(10). Over the last 20 years, billions of dollars have been spent in this country to reduce levels of smog and its main ingredient, ozone. Ironically, ozone generators are being marketed heavily as a means to "purify" indoor air.
An even greater concern about the use of ozone generators is that they can readily produce unsafe ozone levels in the rooms they are used. Numerous studies on commercial and residential units have found that the devices produce room concentrations far in excess of the FDA, worker, and outdoor air standards(11),(12),(13),(14). While most units on the market can produce dangerous levels of ozone, few include controllers to prevent ozone levels from exceeding safe limits. Some new models have "ozone sensors", but their effectiveness has not been independently evaluated. Ozone gas initially produces a sharp odor, however it dulls the sense of smell after a brief period of continuous use. Hence, perceived odor is not a reliable indicator of ozone's presence.
Questions often arise whether ozone air cleaners are appropriate for use in unoccupied spaces. They are sometimes promoted to treat homes, furniture, and clothing after fires to remove smoke odors. Ozone is a strong oxidizer that will accelerate the degradation of rubber, upholstery, paints, and other materials. Hence, even when used in unoccupied areas, ozone generators can cause damage to building materials and electronic devices.
The California Department of Health Services (DHS) issued a warning about ozone air cleaning devices in April 1997(15). In recent years, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Florida have taken a variety of actions to prevent public health hazards from ozone generators in their states. On December 30, 1997, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed suit against the industry's leading manufacturer (Alpine Industries, Inc.) for violating their 1995 consent order with FTC(16). The 1995 order required that ozone generator manufacturers halt their practice of making unsupported, misleading health claims about the ability of their products to remove indoor air pollutants and prevent or relieve allergies, asthma and other conditions. In addition, the manufacturers had been required to stop making unsupported claims that their devices are more effective than other air cleaning methods and that they do not create harmful by-products. The current FTC action alleges that Alpine Industries has continued these practices. Related complaints can be directed to the FTC(17).
Safer, More Effective Air Cleaners Are Available
The best way to resolve indoor air quality problems is to remove the pollutant sources or prevent emissions in the first place. Improving fresh-air ventilation is also beneficial. When an air cleaner is needed, safe, more effective models are available that can remove air contaminants without the health risks caused by ozone. These devices can use high efficiency particle arrestance (HEPA) filters, activated carbon, electrostatic precipitators, and/or particle ionizers (Note: precipitators and ionizers can generate low levels of ozone). Evaluations of household air cleaners have been published by the Consumers Report14, the American Lung Association (ALA)(18) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)(19). The former two reports give explicit warnings against ozone-generating devices. The Consumer Reports' authors conclude, after performing tests, that they "wouldn't recommend an ozone generator even as a last resort."
Information on California DHS' Indoor Air Quality Program can be found at the web site: http://www.cal-iaq.org.
I returned the Ionic Breeze earlier today before reading your post as I'm not willing to take any risks on our lungs--we are challenged enough. I explained to Sharper Image my docs don't believe it will be good for our lung conditions & they were very good about giving us merchandise credits.
I appreciate your info & am interested in reading what the LungLine nurse has to say as well (we can always repurchase it with the credit).
We DO have three HEPA air cleaners in our home that we use as needed, especially when there's something which is triggering allergy attacks--strong scents, yardwork, etc.
"Consumer Reports just evaluated Sharper Image's Ionic Breeze
Quadra along with 17 other portable cleaners. The tests were
performed in a sealed chamber.
According to Pittle, "In the same test, the Ionic Breeze Quadra had a very slow rate of cleaning. And when we tested it over a longer period of time, its cleaning performance did not improve."
And tests show two other room cleaners that work like the Ionic Breeze, the Honeywell Environizer and the Hoover SilentAir 4000, also rated poor in cleaning performance.
Our tests show, and independent experts confirm, that these air cleaners don
My husband says he can tell when there's ozone around & it bothers him. I figure we have enough HEPA air cleaners throughout our house already; perhaps I'll buy one more today from Costco, "just to be sure." I have had great success with the HEPA air cleaners (we currently have 2 or 3).
I'm curious to see what the LungLine nurse will say; if she says it's a good machine, I may go back to the store & repurchase it, but I'll have to discuss it with hubby. My younger brother has several in their home & thinks it's great. My older brother (who gave me the gift) doesn't have any air cleaners, just central air conditioning.
Thanks again, Ellis & Concerned Lady. Your comments are most appreciated.
Anyone interested in whole house clean air should visit http://www.shaklee.com/product/55102.
AirSource 3000 is an air purifier, not an air filter. It is not an ozone generator. It will help reduce molds, fungus, viruses, bacteria and odors. It also will greatly reduce the particulate in the air. And it will treat up to 3000 square feet of living space. There is no filter to clean or replace. You can contact us through that website.
Hey everyone. Before going into this, I should point out that I have typical allergies, and two cats in my house, but I do not have any particular respiratory illness, so I'm probably not as sensitive to this issue as most people here. But, my ex-wife of six years does have pretty bad asthma, so I am familiar with some of the issues.
I bought one of the Ionic Breeze GP units about two weeks ago, and have been running it 24/7 in my two bedroom townhouse, alternating from the living room during the day to my bedroom at night. I do note a slight tint of ozone in the air, mostly in the near vicinity of the unit, but can't smell it more than five or so feet away.
"christie" cites an article from Information on California DHS' Indoor Air Quality Program. It notes that ozone generating devices are not considered healthy for anyone, particularly people with respiratory illnesses. It says that ozone is only useful in combating airborne bacteria in levels greater than 3000 ppb, and that the federal maximum for safe levels of ozone is currently being reduced from 120 ppb over 1 hour to 80 ppb over 8 hours.
But there are two things to point out about this unit.
1) It is not an ozone generating unit, in the sense that it is not specifically making ozone in order to kill bacteria and render viruses harmless. The ozone it makes is a side effect of the ionization process, and the ozone levels produced, even when running the unit on high, are less than 50 ppb (according to the manufacturer). Running the unit with the UVC lamp on will generate the highest levels of ozone, and since I'm not too sure about the effectiveness of the lamp in the first place, I'll probably run it without the lamp on in general. But, the ozone levels produced should still be considered safe, according to federal standards
2) The unit will trap particles as small as 0.05 microns. The smallest particles tend the be the ones that cause the most damage to people with respiratory illness, as they are the ones that don't get trapped by the fine hairs in your nose and lungs, and make it to the bronchial walls, where they can cause irritation and inflamation. Normal HEPA filters just won't trap particles that small. 1 micron is already small for a good HEPA system. (I work in a research lab, and have a lot of experience wth HEPA filtration.) Trapping sub-micron sized particles requires much finer filters in conjunction with stronger, louder fans to push the air through such a fine mesh.
So, while the concerns noted are quite valid, I don't think they really apply to this product. People with respiratory illness should certainly consider the issues in conjunction with their physician, but in my opinion, the irritation generated by those smallest particles, that will never be filtered out by a HEPA system, is probably on the same scale or more significant than the damage caused by trace amounts of ozone generated by this product.
Of course, a Consumer Reports test showing that these types of ionizing air cleaners don't clean fast enough to be of any use is pretty damning, but I've been sleeping better and wake up less congested since I bought this thing, so I'm happy with it. Again, I will point out that the product in question is not designed to be an ozone generator, but is a particle ionizer. And to quote christie's article, "When an air cleaner is needed, safe, more effective models are available that can remove air contaminants without the health risks caused by ozone. These devices can use high efficiency particle arrestance (HEPA) filters, activated carbon, electrostatic precipitators, and/or particle ionizers (Note: precipitators and ionizers can generate low levels of ozone)."
The last thing I want to do is minimize anyone's concerns. Your lungs are your life, and one should take seriously any threat to them. Balanced, well informed research is the best way to determine just what is right for you. I hope I have helped in that regard.
I just purchased two units of the Sharper Image Ionic Air Cleaners and after having read all these comments I've decided to return the units. I purchased one for my 85 yr old grandmother thinking it will help her breathe better but have decided not to take any chances. Besides when I did plug in the unit the room smelled like bleach. It was driving her crazy. Thanks for the good information posted here.
I seem to be very allergic to ozone - I can immediately smell it in a store or home that uses an ozone-creating air purifier. In a few minutes I will develop a severe headhache and nausea. I don't seem to be allergic to other smells, but this one really gets me. Unfortunately, I am being moved to a different floor in my company, and noticed the smell immediately when I walked into the room. I asked if someone on the floor had an ionic air purifier and sure enough, someone does. Once the smell is in my nose, I can't get it out. Not sure how I'm going to handle the issue - either the device has to go or I won't be able to work on this floor.
This experience makes me a bit more sympathetic to people who can't tolerate smoke in restaurants or public places.
I am surprised that a reaction to these devices is not more common, because if it were, surely they would be banned.
One reason may be that people's sense of smell becomes dulled by the ozone, so they stop smelling it. But, ozone can continue to cause respiratory irritation and damage.
When Consumer Reports tested units similiar to the Ionic Breeze (if not the same exact unit), they found many instances of much higher ozone output than the manufacturer said was supposed to be produced.
Negative ion generators like the Air Vitalizer, and others, put out close to zero amounts of ozone, if any, and are very good at cleaning particulates out of the air. The book Sinus Survival by Dr. Robert Ivker, D.O., and the book The Healthy House by John Bower, both discuss various types of air cleaners, including the pros & cons.
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