SACRAMENTO: The California Air Resources Board has certified as safe the first three dozen indoor air purifiers as part of its larger effort to rid the market of machines that pump large quantities of ozone into people's homes.
ARB passed a regulation in September 2007 that called for manufacturers and distributors of indoor air cleaners to ensure that none of their products emit ozone levels greater than 50 parts per billion, a standard that eliminates the threat of high indoor concentrations. The agency adopted the regulation primarily because certain manufacturers were selling machines that deliberately pumped high levels of ozone - a known air contaminant - into occupied spaces.
The 34 models - produced by 3M, Hunter Fan, Honeywell by Kaz, Access Business Group, and Woonjin Coway (for General Electric) - are the first to be certified as compliant for sale in California.
"These models are safe for sustained indoor use," said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. "Consumers should be aware that distributors have until late 2010 to sell uncertified models. Some distributors are still pressing the absurd notion that ozone cleans the air and is safe for humans to breathe. Look for "ARB Certified" labels on packaging and know that certification means no harmful amounts of ozone."
The state legislature empowered ARB to act because some indoor air purifiers are capable of creating indoor ozone concentrations several times higher than the state's outdoor standard.
Ozone is the main constituent of smog, a threat to human health and the focus of decades of regulations aimed at reducing outdoor air pollution. Exposure to ozone can result in lung inflammation, impaired breathing, coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and worsening of asthma symptoms.
The regulation requires that by October 18, 2010, all portable air cleaners intended for California's market be tested, certified and labeled as meeting the state's electrical safety and ozone standards. State enforcement officers are empowered to hold manufacturers, suppliers and retailers accountable for assuring their products meet the requirements.
Honeywell/Kaz obtained the first certification for an air cleaner that uses ionizing technology. This process can unintentionally produce small amounts of ozone as a by-product of its electronics. If levels from a particular model are excessive, the problem is solved by adjusting its design. Though emissions from these machines are typically well below the regulation's limit, certification is required as an assurance for public safety.
All five companies also certified models that use filters to remove particles from the air. Models using this technology, which produces no ozone, need only pass the electrical safety test.
For the list of air cleaner models certified to date and more information on the air cleaner regulation, go to the ARB's website at http://www.arb.ca.gov/research/indoor/aircleaners/certified.htm.
For more information on air cleaners, go to ARB's website at http://www.arb.ca.gov/research/indoor/ozone.htm.
The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.