Are Ionizers Safe? Can an Ionic Air Purifier Be Dangerous?

Ionic air purifiers (or ionizers) are one of the cheapest types of air cleaners you can buy today because of their filterless design. However, the way they work is somewhat a mystery for most people and it leads them to wonder “Are ionizers safe?”

While ionizers are widely considered to be generally safe to use, there are a few things that you do want to keep in mind when you’re trying to decide between this type of air purifier and other ones.

You need all of the relevant facts before you make an informed decision, and we’ll ensure that you have them all. 

Are Ionic Air Purifiers Dangerous?

One of the first things that you’ll notice about ionic air purifiers is that some of them come with a small warning label.

This warning is what leads people to ask the question, “Are ionizers dangerous?” Unfortunately, the answer is not a simple yes or no. That’s because not all ionizers are built the same, nor do they all produce harmful side effects.

The truth is that some ionic air purifiers can emit trace amounts of ozone when they work. Ozone is widely considered to be a harmful air pollutant. Anyone who has respiratory problems or conditions like asthma, COPD, or emphysema are naturally more sensitive to ozone because it is a lung irritant. 

While the levels of ozone that are produced by a filterless air purifier may not necessarily be dangerous per se, it can cause your conditions to get worse. You could also start to see an increased exacerbation of your symptoms the longer you expose yourself to this ozone. If you have an ionic air purifier running in every room, you won’t be able to get away from it. 

Again, not every ionic air purifier produces ozone. You really need to read the specifications and any warning labels to see if it’s a concern or not. Safe ionizers just emit negative ions into the air as a way to clean it. These negative ions are mostly harmless to most people and don’t cause any issues with their health. We have several good recommendations for the best ionic air purifier. Take a look to see what’s available.

Regardless, since most people expect filterless air purifiers to clean the home’s air and not add more pollution to it, we’ve started seeing a bigger and bigger shift to HEPA air purifiers because they don’t release ozone when they operate. 

And, since you can’t actually see an ionizer working to clean the air because it doesn’t trap particles in a physical filter that gets dirty, many people wonder do filterless air purifiers work at all? We assure you that yes they do. But you can check out that linked post to find out more if you’re still unsure.

Why is an Ionizer Air Purifier Bad for You?

Along with the fact that these types of air purifiers can release trace amounts of ozone, they also don’t clean your indoor air as effectively as a HEPA air purifier.

The negative ions they release or the positively and negatively charged plates they use are great for reducing harmful particles but they can’t truly clean the air as a HEPA filter can. 

That’s often not the best thing because it’s the tiny particulates that you breathe in that can get deep into your lungs and respiratory system and cause health problems. If you’re prone to infections, they could potentially increase your risk even further because your body will have to deal with these particles as well as any irritation they cause.

You also don’t want negative ions with contaminants like mold spores sticking to your walls, and these negative particles can and will attach to just about any surface. This means you could potentially breathe them in if the ionizer is ever turned off or the particles get stirred back up into the air again. This could be dangerous, and it’s another reason why some people tend to choose HEPA air purifiers.

If you want to play it safe, you can find our list of the top 10 best home air purifiers here that use HEPA filters.

When it comes to asking are ionizers safe or not, the answer is generally yes. They do have drawbacks that make them less safe than HEPA air purifiers, but they’re still safe for a majority of people to be around. If you want to learn more about how an ionic air purifier vs HEPA air purifier compares, we’ve got a dedicated article on that topic too.

Obviously, it’s up to you to decide which type of air purifier you want to have around your home and your family.