Ionic Air Purifier Smells: Should I Be Alarmed

An air purifier.

Ionic air purifier smells are not always bad signs. Because of the way they work, ionic purifiers will not remove all gases and particles from the air, and some of the smells that may be associated with them are only odors that pre-exist in the room.

On the other hand, an ionic purifier is known to produce ozone, which has been proven to cause health issues in humans. If you have an ionic air purifier, the following information should help you recognize whether the smells in the air are dangerous, and suggest how to reduce the danger.

What Is an Ionic Air Purifier?

An ionic air purifier emits negatively charged ions into the atmosphere of a room. As a result, a small amount of ozone is produced. Ozone, even in small amounts, can be harmful.

Unless the ionic purifier is equipped with a secondary filter, it may not be able to remove many odors, including those associated with specific chemicals. For this reason, they are not suitable in places where chemicals or gases need to be consistently filtered out of the air. Some research has also shown that ionic purifiers alone actually are not very effective against pollen and other allergens.

How Do Ionic Purifiers Produce Bad Odors?

There is only one "bad smell" that is directly produced by an ionic purifier, and that is ozone. Aside from that, any odors that seem to be produced by the machine are actually existing odors that are being amplified by the removal of other particles in the air.

For example, the smell of bleach or a pine cleaner may seem to be stronger, because your olfactory glands are not reacting to as many other odors. Another reason that smells may seem concentrated is that the charged particles of some gasses align more effectively, and clump together which makes them heavier than air. When the compounds sink to the floor level, it becomes more noticeable because it is more highly concentrated.

When To Be Alarmed

Ozone has a distinct smell and knowing what it smells like is helpful in early detection and evacuation. This is important to avoid the adverse effects of ozone on you and your family.

The best description for ozone is "metallic". This is that smell you get when you handle coins, railings and some metal utensils. When this smell is distinct around your ionic purifier, it could be releasing ozone and you need to call in the experts. It is also recommended that you evacuate the building until the leak has been fixed.

Ozone sometimes has a clean sweet and pungent smell but it also smells like burning wire or chlorine.

Dangers of Ozone Gas

Ozone has been shown to cause lung irritation and has been documented to increase the frequency of asthma attacks and susceptibility to airborne allergens. Because of this, the use of ionic purifiers is not recommended by both the American Lung Association and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

How to Reduce Ozone

If you are going to use an ionic air purifier, be sure that the room has plenty of air circulation. For the best results, couple the use of the ionic purifier with another type of air filter, such as a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filter. Using a HEPA filter will probably make an ionic purifier unnecessary, because of the high filtration rate.