Is an Ionizer an Air Purifier? A Comprehensive Guide

Evidence suggests that air ionizers can be used to purify air from bacteria, dust, cigarette smoke, mold, soot, pollen, and household odors. This has a significant impact on people who suffer from hay fever and other seasonal allergies. An air ionizer is a device that releases negative ions into the air. These negative ions attach to tiny particles, such as those in tobacco smoke, and are used in air purifiers to remove particulates from the air.

Particles suspended in the air are charged by attracting charged ions from the ionizer by electrostatic attraction. The particles, in turn, are attracted to any nearby grounded conductor, either by plates deliberately placed inside an air filter or simply by the nearest walls and ceilings. The National Health Service (NHS) in Britain conducted a study to investigate the effectiveness of anions in purifying the air. The results showed that repeated Acinetobacter infections transmitted through the air in a ward were eliminated by installing a negative air ionizer.

The infection rate dropped to zero, an unexpected result. Additionally, a manufacturer discovered that the positive and negative ions produced by air conditioning systems inactivate viruses such as the flu. Smart Air is a certified B Corp company founded by Thomas Talhelm, professor at the University of Chicago and an expert on the subject of clean air. Smart Air offers practical, empirically backed purifiers and masks that remove the same particles as large companies for a fraction of the cost.

This way, air purification companies with few additional costs can market a higher CADR (metric that measures the effectiveness of an air purifier), making it an economical way to increase CADR. Ionizer air purifiers are often marketed under various names, such as “ion air purifiers”, “negative ion air purifiers”, “air ionizers” and “bipolar needle-tip ionization”. The CADR measures the amount of filtered air that circulates over a short period of time and was originally designed to classify air filters for multimedia use. Most major air purifier companies use ionizers in their air purifiers, including Xiaomi, Blueair, Levoit, and many more.

Unfortunately, despite evidence that ionizers cause more harm than good, school districts and airports in the United States have been tricked into disbursing millions of dollars to companies that sell these harmful products. Ionizers use electrostatically charged plates to produce air ions with a positive or negative charge (for example, N2+ or O2−; these primary ions immediately group together with other air molecules, such as H2O) to which particulate matter adheres. The California Air Resources Board has a page listing air purifiers (many of them with ionizers) that meet its indoor ozone limit of 0.050 parts per million. There is little evidence that negative air ionization is associated with lower depression scores, especially at higher exposure levels.

The term ionizer has become synonymous with air purification because the technology has been around for a long time, but believe it or not, ionizing air filters are actually one of the lowest forms of air purification available today.

Nancy Pickell
Nancy Pickell

Evil travel scholar. Extreme webaholic. Lifelong internet buff. Total beer specialist. Unapologetic bacon maven. Wannabe internet ninja.