May 31, 2006
SACRAMENTO -- Devices marketed as air cleaners or air purifiers are not always good for your health, a report to the California Air Resources Board (ARB) revealed last week. According to the report, there are devices that intentionally generate ozone, a key component of smog, resulting in indoor ozone concentrations well above health-based state and federal ambient air quality standards.
"Unfortunately, ozone-generating devices are often marketed to those most at risk - people with respiratory ailments or weakened immune systems," said ARB Chairman, Dr. Robert F. Sawyer. "It is best for everyone to steer clear of these health-damaging devices."
The ARB report covers four devices that were tested according to manufacturer instructions in a small furnished room under common residential temperature and humidity conditions. ARB findings conclude that each device tested emitted ozone at levels that exceed health-based standards and can pose a serious health risk. One model produced room concentrations more than 4.5 times the health-based state ambient air quality standard for ozone. At elevated levels, ozone can exacerbate asthma, cause lung damage and lead to difficulty in breathing.
Air cleaners of all types are being more aggressively marketed than ever before. Today's report to the Board specifically covered devices that purposely generate ozone, which are marketed by manufacturers who make false health claims regarding the effectiveness and level of ozone being emitted from the device. Some manufacturers falsely claim that their products produce "safe" levels of ozone that remove indoor air pollutants such as particles, gases, allergens, viruses, odorous compounds, mold, and bacteria. In fact, ozone reacts with other gases to produce significant increases in other pollutants, such as formaldehyde and ultrafine particles, which are also harmful to health, all the while deadening one's sense of smell. In addition, ARB scientists have stated that at the levels produced by ozone generators, their emissions could hurt humans without affecting pathogens.
Currently, no government agency has full authority to regulate ozone generators. ARB is actively working to educate public health professionals and consumers about the dangers associated with the use of ozone generators.
Helpful consumer information is available here, including a list of current ozone generator makes and models to avoid.
ARB's report on ozone generators is available here.
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.
The energy challenge facing California is real. Every Californian needs to take immediate action to reduce energy consumption. For a list of simple ways you can reduce demand and cut your energy cost, see our website at http://www.arb.ca.gov.