Do Air Purifiers Give Off Radiation?

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Written By Jamila W.

I remember I was desperate to buy an air purifier because a lot of junk was floating around my house as it was next to a busy street. My mom was like, “Aren’t those things dangerous or something.” I researched a bit this is what I found:

Air purifiers don’t give off harmful radiation. They do generate EMF radiation, but all electrical devices generate EMF (1). The bad reputation is due to ozone, which some models generate and depend upon to purify the air. Ozone is harmful to health. 

In this article, I will help you understand the hazards of some models of air purifiers and what you can do to make informed decisions and avoid health issues in the long run.  

Can Air Purifiers Produce Dangerous Radiation?

Long story short: yes, air purifiers emit radiation (tiny). In scientific terms, we refer to these as electromagnetic radiation (EMF waves). But you should know scientists consider these small amounts of radiation of no real consequence on human wellness.

Another important thing to note is that almost all electronic equipment is capable of producing radiation. So, this instance of radiation is not just limited to air purifiers (2).

Where there is power, there is EMF radiation. It can be as simple as that. There are air purifier models that utilize high-energy radiation to get rid of airborne particles, and I will discuss these and clear misconceptions about some of them and explain why they are still safe. 

How Does an Air Purifier Generate Radiation?

Okay, since now you know air purifiers do produce tiny inconsequential amounts of radiation, let’s examine the process and science behind the phenomenon in the most basic terms so you get the complete picture.  

By the term “air purifier,” it’s easy to understand that something is being purified, and in our case, it’s the air inside the house or your office.

But the way companies go about accomplishing this process decides the amount of radiation an air purifier produces. 

For example, it could be a simple filter that just has tiny meshes of microscopic holes which trap harmful pollutants and bacteria.

And what you get on the other side is clean air. Or it could be the case of advanced industrial-grade filters that produce ultraviolet radiation (a type of EMF) used to destroy bacteria and purify the air.   

In the end, you should understand not all air purifier models function the same, and this myth of dangerous radiation started with one particular model. 

Hey! But science advances fast, and in the next section of this article, I will help you understand the key differences between the air purifier models, their working, and why, in general, there is no reason to worry but do keep an eye out for these models:    

  1. Ozone Generator Air Purifiers — The Cause Behind the Bad Reputation
Ozone Generator Air Purifiers

This myth of air purifiers being harmful to human health started in the early 2000s, thanks to these models of air purifiers. 

The main purpose of these air purifiers is to generate large amounts of ozone. Yes, the same gas that protects our planet from the harmful radiation from the sun. 

Ozone can easily mix and destroy the pollutants present in the air hence by producing large amounts of ozone, these types of air purifiers get rid of the dust particles present in your room. 

The only catch is it’s grossly unhealthy for humans to inhale ozone gas. They can react with stuff inside your body the same way they react with pollutants. 

After their harmful effects were known, regulations were put in place to use ozone generator air purifiers in unoccupied rooms and only under dire circumstances such as fire accidents, mold spores outbreaks, and contamination with toxic chemicals; that too, only as a last resort.

So, unless you are buying an ozone generator air purifier, there is little to no reason to worry about the health consequences of running an air purifier indoors.        

  1. Ionic Air Purifiers — Produces Ozone but Are Considered Safe 
busy bee

Don’t let the name intimidate you. Ionizer purifiers are simple constructions and are easy to understand. Think of it like bees being attracted to the honey in flowering plants.

 These air purifiers use surfaces coated with electrical charges that cling to pollutants in the air in your room, thereby collecting them inside the purifier and away from you. 

It should be noted, these instruments do produce a tiny amount of ozone but are totally within the industry standards, so no need to be concerned about it. 

They come in two models: the stylish fanless model, which consumes less power but also takes more time to clear the pollutants, and the model, which uses a fan to circulate air, hence considered generally more efficient (3).      

  1. ROS Air Purifier — Has Ozone but Is Very Powerful and Safe

The term “Reactive Oxygen Species” (ROS) is a well-known phrase among nutritionists. 

 These unstable chemicals are renowned for their ability to react with stuff inside your body and cause harm. Hence you’re usually advised to have antioxidants in the form of vegetables to stop these chemicals in their tracks.

But when used as a purifier, it reacts with bacteria, mold, and other harmful germs that pollute the air in your room. I’m mentioning these because there are two different types of ROS present in them. They are:    

Hydrogen peroxide and Ozone. Despite having low levels of ozone, these purifiers have very high efficiency and can be safely used even while you’re in the room.    

  1. Ultraviolet (UV) Air Purifiers — Can Produce Ozone and Are Not Very Effective
Ultraviolet (UV)

Ultraviolet rays are a form of radiation, and these air purifiers use Ultraviolet light (UV technology) to kill off harmful bacteria and other lifeforms that are present in the air. 

Now, it’s easy to confuse this with harmful EMF radiation and panic about the health hazards these might cause. And let’s make the admission that UV radiation comes under the category of ionizing radiation, which is considered harmful. 

But you should know, the UV light is located inside the purifier unit; hence there is very little chance of it leaking out and causing harm.  

As for the given-off EMF radiation, it is in line with what other air purifier units would produce, and the fact this machine uses UV has no effect on its overall EMF radiation from the purifier for the person using it.

Verdict:

Alright, those are the three models that produce ozone, which was the reason behind the myth of air purifiers being unhealthy and producing dangerous radiation injurious to health.

As I mentioned, you should be only concerned if you’re looking to purchase ozone generators that can generate over 3000 mg of ozone per hour. 

These come under the first model in our list. The rest of the models produce negligible amounts of harmful ozone, hence totally under the safety standards established by the National Ambient Air Quality Standards Clean Air Act.         

Other Models of Air Purifiers — Ozone Free

Air Purifiers

When searching for other models, I found these two models to fit the overall theme of this article. So, I’m adding them here as important information. The reason I’m making them into a separate list as they usually don’t generate ozone. Hence popular choice. 

Photo Electrochemical Oxidation (PECO) Air Purifier

It’s a cool new technology that uses light and chemicals other than ozone to target pollutants in the air. 

The chemicals used are similar to the ones used in ROS purifiers and can destroy bacteria and other problematic lifeforms that can park inside your living room. The byproduct of these types of purifiers is just water and carbon. 

This system of purifiers comes with very high efficiency and hence can target extremely tiny particles as small as 0.001 nanometers. 

High-Efficiency Particulate Filter (HEPA) Air Purifiers 

One of the top-selling models in the market at the moment. HEPA model air purifiers depend on filters with really tiny holes to clear pollutants and harmful pathogens from your immediate environment.   

The advantage that makes them a top choice for many is that they don’t use ozone and can clear over 99% of the pollutants in the air, all by just using sophisticated filters.

Some models even combine the capabilities of UV technology and HEPA models for more effective purification and cleaner air.  

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Industrial Air Pollution

Here are some questions I found interesting while researching air purifiers, and found their answers useful before making my purchase. Maybe you will find them helpful too?

How Do I Know if My Air Purifier Produces Ozone?

The best and easiest way is to find the brand name and model number and inspect it. Based on the model, check whether it uses ozone for air purification. ROS, Ionizer purifiers, and ozone generators rely upon ozone, while models that use activated carbon filters, Photo Electrochemical Oxidation (PECO), and HEPA filters don’t use ozone.  

Are Air Purifiers Safe for Your Health?

Yes, as long as you can avoid the ones that produce large amounts of ozone and use them as they are meant to be used, you can be assured that there will be no ill effects for you or your family. Even if you use the air purifier 24/7.

Do You Need Air Purifiers?

The answer depends on your needs. If you’re away from the city and feel fresh and rejoiced indoors, an air purifier will not make a big difference. But if you’re in the heart of a busy city or a port, air purifiers can make a world of difference. 
Just ask yourself: do you feel like there is junk floating around the house, and are you coughing more so than often? If yes, then you need one for the air pollution.

Wrapping Up

Young Woman Working on Laptop in Bedroom

Air purifiers do generate tiny amounts of EMF radiation. And EMF radiation is being generated as I type these sentences from my laptop and other devices in my room. The amount is so meager that this is of no concern.

That being said, air purifiers got a bad reputation due to the ozone gas they utilized or produced during their operation. Some models should only be operated in empty halls and rooms. And only under dire circumstances, and that too with extreme caution.    

If you’re looking to buy an air purifier and are worried about the health hazards they might bring, it is better to avoid models that use ozone and go for ozone-free models. Best!