When buying an ionic air purifier (also known as an air ionizer) it’s natural for you to question if these products are safe to be around, as well as if they pose any potential dangers for your health.

It’s no surprise that the technology behind ionic air cleaners is what makes them seem so scary. We’ll explain what that was all about as well as answer the question, “Are ionic air purifiers safe?” in this post. By the end, you’ll have all of the information you need to make a well-informed decision on if you should use an ionizer or not.

Are Ionic Air Purifiers Safe? The Short Answer

Most ionic air purifiers (ionizers) are completely safe and not bad for your health. They emit negative ions into the air as a way to clean it which is harmless to you. They’re often confused with ozone generators which emit high levels of ozone that can be bad for health.

If you’re looking for a cheap ionic air purifier that’s safe to use, you can find our recommendations for the best ionizer air purifiers here.

See all of Amazon's Best Selling Air Purifiers

Are Ionic Air Purifiers Safe? The Long Answer

By design, most ionizers produce negatively charged ions and emit them into the air as a way to clean and sterilize it. However, some ionic air purifiers work in a different way by drawing air into the system with a fan and collecting pollutants on a set of metal plates or collection rods.

This process is a radically different method of air purification than a HEPA air purifier which uses a fan to draw air inside the unit and a dense filter to collect the airborne pollutants before pushing fresh air back into a room. With a cloud of negative ions being pumped into the air, questioning are ionic air purifiers bad for your health is a justified response.

Another common concern is if ions are really safe to inhale or not.

The good news is that you have nothing to worry about when it comes to breathing in negative ions. In fact, negative ions already occur naturally in our environment. In nature, ionization happens when air is exposed to energy sources like sunshine, lightning, and waterfalls.

Negative ions have a long history of being known for increasing energy and improving moods, in addition to cleaning the air you breathe.

So, are ionizers safe? Or are they bad for your health?

The honest answer is that it depends. The only catch is that air ionizers are safe to be around if they fall into one of the following categories:

  • It’s just an ionizing device and doesn’t include an ozone generator
  • If an ozone generator is included, the device lets you control the level of ozone production

Why Would an Ionizer Be Harmful?

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.

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

Dangers of Air Ionizers

The most common air ionizer dangers include throat irritation, coughing, chest pain and shortness of breath, as well as an increased risk of respiratory infections. However, these ionizer air purifier side effects only occur if you inhale ozone. Not all ionic air purifiers pose these dangers. Only ozone generators are a concern.

So if you want to eliminate all risks and side effects associated with an ionizer, then be sure to get a unit that doesn’t produce ozone, or at the very least, produces low levels of it.

Bottom Line

With this information, you should  feel confident shopping for an ionic air purifier without the fear of buying something that could potentially harm your health.

Obviously, the two products we recommended on this page are highly rated and great picks, but they’re not your only options. Check out the best air purifier list to compare the top products.

If you’re looking for something different and want to make sure it’s safe, just follow the tips we outlined above and you’ll end up with a great device for your home.

Now you know the answer to the question, “Are ionic air purifiers safe or bad for you?”

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About David Morrison

David is an Air Quality & Comfort Technician. He has expert knowledge on the technology and design of air purification, air conditioning, and heating systems. His main role is to write content that helps people get the most value out of their air purifiers, air conditioners, and heating units. (See Full Bio)