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An air purifier, how healthy is it?

Whether an air purifier is healthy is a frequently asked question. On the one hand, you hear stories about the harmful effects of air pollution. People say air purifiers help against this. On the other hand, you hear bad things about the effects of ionisation, ozone and dirty filters. Some even go so far as to claim that an air purifier is unhealthy. What should you believe? Here we explain how healthy an air purifier is. But also what the risks are and what you should pay attention to.


What is an air purifier good for?

The biggest health benefit that an air purifier brings is, of course, the removal of air pollution. Air pollution, especially by fine dust, is a big problem in the Netherlands. Fine dust is a collective term for all kinds of different particles smaller than 10 micrometres. Soot, Sahara sand or even microplastics are examples of these. The smaller these particles are, the further they enter our bodies when we inhale them and the greater the damage to our health. This is because the lungs do not filter the very smallest particles and, as a result, they can directly enter your bloodstream.


The RIVM estimates that people in the Netherlands live on average 13 months shorter thanks to particulate matter. So an air purifier is definitely useful! Yet sometimes you hear that an air purifier is unhealthy. This would mainly have to do with ozone and polluted filters.


Air purifier with ionisation, healthy or not?

Many air purifiers have the option of adding an ioniser. An ioniser creates negatively charged ions by means of electricity. These ions easily bind to other particles in the air. This way you can easily destroy viruses and other organic material and your air cleaner will keep you healthy. An air purifier with ionisation also works better against fine dust. Ionisation causes particles to clump together in the air. This creates larger particles that sink to the ground due to gravity and thus disappear from the air circulation. Unfortunately, after some time, these particles re-enter the air. Another disadvantage of this method is that the ions also react with oxygen, creating ozone.


Healthy air purifier with ionisation


Are ozone emissions from an air purifier unhealthy?

Ozone is a gas with three oxygen atoms that easily reacts with other particles. This is why it can be dangerous. It is created when an oxygen molecule binds an extra oxygen atom. Ions eventually form loose oxygen atoms through various reactions, and thus also ozone. When we breathe in ozone, it reacts with our body cells and irritates them. That is why ozone is known as a toxic gas. Long-term exposure to too much ozone causes a variety of health problems. This is why you sometimes hear that an air purifier can be unhealthy. A carbon filter removes ozone from the air. The ozone binds to the carbon and leaves normal oxygen behind. However, it is important to replace this filter regularly.


What are the consequences of ozone?

Ozone has many negative health effects, such as:

  • Irritation of the airways
  • More asthma
  • Reduced lung capacity
  • Chest pain and increased coughing
  • Greater chance of inflammation in the airways

Research shows that negative ions do indeed purify the air. Unfortunately, the negative effects of ozone are also significant. It also appears that prolonged exposure to ozone has more risks than short term exposure to a high concentration. Whether an air cleaner is healthy therefore depends on how many ions it introduces into the air circulation.


Can ionisation before the filter make the air cleaner healthy?

You must therefore consider the ozone production of an ioniser. An important difference is whether the ioniser is located before or after the filter. If the ioniser is located after the filter, the ions end up in the air and eventually react with oxygen to form ozone. However, if the ioniser is in front of the filter, the ions only react with the particles that are blown towards the filter. Thanks to the electrical charge of the filter, it absorbs all ions. The ionisation process thus remains limited inside the air purifier. Because of this, ultimately no negative ions enter the air you breathe and no ozone forms. A healthy air purifier therefore has ionisation before the filter and not after.


Which air purifier is healthy?

A good example of an air purifier with ionisation before the filter is the EA30. Thanks to its combination of a fine mesh Hepa filter and effective ionisation, this device removes no less than 99.98% of pollution from the air. Thanks to the ionisation, fine dust particles are electrically charged when they reach the filter. As a result, the filter catches them better and there is less pressure loss. Noise and energy consumption remain limited. So this is an excellent choice for most living rooms and bedrooms.


healthy air purifier


Filter full, health risk?

There are people who claim that your air purifier sends unhealthy particles into the air when the filter is full. And these people are right! However, these are the same particles that would be in the air if you hadn’t had an air purifier in the first place. If you seldom change your filter, it gets clogged up with all the particles it picks up. This causes it to lose some of its effectiveness and the situation slowly returns to the way it was without an air cleaner. So a dirty filter can never make your air worse than it was originally. This problem is also easy to prevent by changing the filters regularly.


Healthy air purifier, when is it good and when is it not?

An air purifier delivers many health benefits. By removing fine dust, air purifiers make you a lot healthier. However, you must be careful of too much ozone. Ozone affects your lungs and causes a lot of health problems. So make sure you buy an air purifier with ionisation before the filter. Dirty filters never cause health damage, but by replacing the filters regularly you maintain their effectiveness.


Need advice or more information?

Check out our product page with air purifiers. Or read more about the air purifier in our extensive advice. Do you have any further questions or would you like advice without obligation? Please call +31 20 646 4028. Or go directly to our range of air purifiers: