Ozone's Effects

You've probably heard of the "ozone layer," which is a layer of the earth's atmosphere that serves as a shield to protect people from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. While in this capacity ozone can be a health protectant, when the ozone is generated right into the air that we breathe, it becomes dangerous and can make people sick.

The Risks

The concept of how ozone generators or air purifiers work is complex, but the basic idea is that they release ozone, which is supposed to "clean" the air. Yet the problem with this design, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other health experts, is that ozone in itself is a pollutant and inhaling even small amounts can be dangerous.

When inhaled, ozone can cause a variety of health problems and risks, including:

  • Throat irritation
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath or other breathing difficulties
  • Lung irritation or even damage
  • Respiratory infections
  • Worsening of asthma symptoms

While ozone can be harmful to anyone, for those suffer from asthma, it can have even more serious consequences.

A Controversial Topic

There has been much public controversy lately about the use of ozone generators. While some manufacturers insist their products can be beneficial for cleaning the air, the EPA and other medical experts have been working to raise public awareness about the dangers that exist and warning people to seek other, safer, options.

Safer Alternatives

Some doctors recommend trying HEPA air purifiers and filters, which rely on a mechanical filtration system to remove asthma triggers from the air in your home, including pollen, dust, smoke, pet dander, mildew and mold spores. This type of purifier can be effective and does not release ozone in the process. (Just be sure if your purifier has an ionizer option, you turn this mechanism off since this can produce ozone.)

Better Safe than Sorry

Before purchasing an air purifier, it is always best to check to make sure it meets the latest safety standards.  Although there are no federal laws in place to regulate air purifiers, the EPA, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) and the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) program all offer important information and recommendations on selecting the best air purifying products.