Breathing Ionizer Dangers

Humidifier spreading steam in  darkness
Air purifier working on dark room. (Image: yocamon/iStock/Getty Images)

A breathing ionizer is an air purifying device that uses electricity to clear toxins from the environment. The ionizer releases negatively charged particles that attach to airborne impurities. The resultant fragments then absorb, harmlessly, into a neutral surface. While many air ionizer users report positive results, a few risks have been associated with using the device.

Black Wall

While an ionizer may remove some pollutants from the air, those contaminants still remain in the room. Impurities, once attached to a negative particle, are absorbed into the wall, floor or any other grounded surface. Over time, ionizers can cause what is known as the "black wall effect," a darkening of the surrounding walls and furniture. There is also the concern that the joined particles may simply find a suitable surface on which to land within your own respiratory system, clinging to and building up on your air passage walls.

Left-Over Pollutants

Much of the existent dust and allergen content in the room before ionization remains present afterward. Since an air ionizer discharges negatively charged particles, only positively charged contaminants will adhere to those emitted. Ionizers have little to no ability to eliminate dust, pollen or smoke and other heavy gases from the air. They also will also not absorb odor, and buyers who wish to cleanse foul smells from the air may also need to purchase what is known as a charcoal absorber for that purpose.

Ozone

Some ionizers produce ozone, an unstable variation of the oxygen molecule. Ozone can react to certain cleaning products in a way that creates formaldehyde, a compound known to cause cancer. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declares that ozone may also "worsen chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma and compromise the ability of the body to fight respiratory infections." The agency has published a comprehensive guide, identifying the names and dangers of common household airborne pollutants.

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