Personal Air Purifiers and Safety/Effectiveness

Posted by phoenixrises @phoenixrises, Oct 9 2:34pm

I have Bronchiectasis and have been having bad winters/springs getting sick with flu, bronchitis/pneumonia, and bronchiectasis flareups. In light of the flu season approaching and COVID, I'm considering purchasing a personal air purifier – specifically AirTamer 315 – that you wear around your neck.

Background: AirTamer electrostatic purification creates a 3-foot sphere of cleaner, healthier air around your head by repelling many negative ion micron-sized pollutants including viruses, bacteria, mold, etc. AirTamer runs on ionic technology that emits negative ions that are reported to be ozone-free. AirTamer was tested to California (CARB) standard for air purifier ozone emission and was given an ozone emission rate of zero. Upon further searching, I found that AirTamer does emit 4 parts per billion ozone levels, however, it's 10 times lower than the EPA’s recommended 50 parts per billion limit on ozone from electronic equipment and FDA's limit for medical devices so it's supposedly considered safe. However, my understanding is that ANY ozone emitted (especially if wearing around your neck) can cause lung irritation and/or further lung issues especially for people with lung conditions (e.g., COPD, bronchiectasis, etc.).

My functional MD doctor is recommending this device for me (and he personally wears this device and his health has improved considerably), but he doesn't have a lung condition.

My questions are: Has anyone with a lung condition – especially bronchiectasis – worn a "personal air purifier" that uses negative ions (no UV)? What has been your experience? Have the negative ions emitted further comprised your lungs OR has it helped prevent you from getting sick? Has your doctor supported your using the personal air purifier with your lung condition?

I'm hoping this could be a positive thing to help protect me when I'm out and about, shopping for food, with other people, and/or on a plane, etc. It's scary out there, especially with the Fall/Winter approaching, but I don't want to (further) damage my lungs. Thanks for your thoughts!

@phoenixrises, That's a good question. Here's a 2019 article that was updated in July 2020 that discusses your question.

Air Ionizer Dangers: Are Ionic Air Purifiers Safe?: https://moderncastle.com/air-ionizer-dangers/

@sueinmn @irene5 @rits @heathert @migizii @tdrell and @alleycatkate may have some thoughts on the safety/effectiveness of personal air ionizers/purifiers.

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Here is an article from Mayo about ionizing air filters – this specifically addresses room-sized filters and a person with asthma, but in my opinion, it would apply to personal filters and to those if us with bronchiectasis as well. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/asthma/expert-answers/asthma/faq-20058187

I personally would not use a personal air purifier – all of them generate ozone. They may be advertised as generating a low level, but here are my concerns:
– How do you know if your personal unit is performing correctly, either while new or as it gets older? As far as I know, there is no simple home test for measuring the ozone level being discharged.
– What is the effect on the body and lungs of inhaling low levels of ozone at very close quarters over extended periods of time? Especially for a person with already compromised lungs this is critical.
– What do scientific, peer reviewed studies show about effectiveness and safety of personal air purifiers? I am not able to find any such studies. Most of what is published is from manufacturers.

We have asthma and allergies as well as bronchiectasis in our family (3 households.) We use a whole-house charcoal plus HEPA air filter systems. In our main home, it is part of our climate system (sorry, I don't know the brand.) In our seasonal home (a tiny house) we use a properly sized portable Honeywell unit. The keys to effectiveness are keeping the doors and windows closed as much as possible and absolutely changing all filters on or ahead of schedule, and buying the right filters for the unit. They have made a huge difference in our symptoms and comfort. My daughter has a portable one for her workplace as well. My son-in-law did a little research and added a UV unit in each bedroom as well because he is very concerned about viruses and their small boys.

As for the Covid recommendation to introduce fresh air to keep virus numbers low, we have the maximum fresh air intake on our ventilation system & rune the fan at low speed at all times. We also open windows whenever wind and air quality measures allow, regardless of low outside temperatures.

I hope this helps in your decision-making.
Sue

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Thank you, John and Sue, for your thoughts and suggestions. I've read many articles on air purifiers including those that use negative ionizers – including the articles you suggested. I have 2 air purifier units (HEPA/charcoal-based) in 2 rooms (living room and bedroom) in my home – and I wouldn't use a floor unit that emits ozone (either from negative ionizers and/or UV light). I also try to get fresh air with open windows or taking a walk when possible.

But the personal air purifier that I was considering purchasing (that I would wear when out, at stores, or in the company of other people, or rooms in my house that don't have an air purifier), only seems available as a 'negative ionizer' (or with UV, which I definitely wouldn't get because of ozone emission) – apparently, no vendor has made a personal air purifier that uses HEPA/charcoal maybe because it's not possible due to the small size of it (?).

I was wondering if I could try it and see if I develop negative symptoms (e.g., cough, chest pain, or shortness of breath) – but then I worry that I may not show symptoms but damage could be done to my lungs that I'm unaware?

The reason I want to consider it is because I barely go out (since last January '20 when I got sick!) and have to decline any invitations anywhere (especially with winter approaching….everything is indoors and people don't wear masks in their home gatherings). I also live with someone who works out into the field every day due to his job and so I risk exposure there when he comes home. If the personal air purifier really does work (as many people have remarked positively in reviews), I thought it might protect me – but I was leery of hurting my lungs further. This is so frustrating and upsetting!

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@johnbishop

@phoenixrises, That's a good question. Here's a 2019 article that was updated in July 2020 that discusses your question.

Air Ionizer Dangers: Are Ionic Air Purifiers Safe?: https://moderncastle.com/air-ionizer-dangers/

@sueinmn @irene5 @rits @heathert @migizii @tdrell and @alleycatkate may have some thoughts on the safety/effectiveness of personal air ionizers/purifiers.

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Phoenixrises….I have no idea….but the commentary offered makes lots of sense!! Tdrell

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@johnbishop

@phoenixrises, That's a good question. Here's a 2019 article that was updated in July 2020 that discusses your question.

Air Ionizer Dangers: Are Ionic Air Purifiers Safe?: https://moderncastle.com/air-ionizer-dangers/

@sueinmn @irene5 @rits @heathert @migizii @tdrell and @alleycatkate may have some thoughts on the safety/effectiveness of personal air ionizers/purifiers.

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Sorry I cannot help on this subject. Heather

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@johnbishop I have no experience or knowledge regarding air ionizers. Sorry.

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@phoenixrises

Thank you, John and Sue, for your thoughts and suggestions. I've read many articles on air purifiers including those that use negative ionizers – including the articles you suggested. I have 2 air purifier units (HEPA/charcoal-based) in 2 rooms (living room and bedroom) in my home – and I wouldn't use a floor unit that emits ozone (either from negative ionizers and/or UV light). I also try to get fresh air with open windows or taking a walk when possible.

But the personal air purifier that I was considering purchasing (that I would wear when out, at stores, or in the company of other people, or rooms in my house that don't have an air purifier), only seems available as a 'negative ionizer' (or with UV, which I definitely wouldn't get because of ozone emission) – apparently, no vendor has made a personal air purifier that uses HEPA/charcoal maybe because it's not possible due to the small size of it (?).

I was wondering if I could try it and see if I develop negative symptoms (e.g., cough, chest pain, or shortness of breath) – but then I worry that I may not show symptoms but damage could be done to my lungs that I'm unaware?

The reason I want to consider it is because I barely go out (since last January '20 when I got sick!) and have to decline any invitations anywhere (especially with winter approaching….everything is indoors and people don't wear masks in their home gatherings). I also live with someone who works out into the field every day due to his job and so I risk exposure there when he comes home. If the personal air purifier really does work (as many people have remarked positively in reviews), I thought it might protect me – but I was leery of hurting my lungs further. This is so frustrating and upsetting!

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@phoenixrises I bought a negative ion generator many years ago because I thought it would help my chronic sinus infections. It was a disaster. I had it next to my bed at night and the first night it gave me heart palpitations. I called the company for a refund and the woman told me that the same thing happened to her brother. Of course, that little detail wasn't in the advertisement. I also tried a room-sized ionizer and immediately got a runny nose from the ozone. I think Sue has the right approach. (BTW, a negative ion generator is another name for ionizer.)

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Thanks everyone for your thoughts. I was hoping someone in the forum had experience with a "personal" air purifier that you wear around your neck – like AirTamer's – whether they were effective for protecting one's health or caused lung problems and/or what your doctors had to say about it. A health environmental consultant we are working with felt that AirTamer's ozone emission (4 parts per billion which is 10 times lower than the EPA’s recommended 50 parts per billion limit on ozone for electronic equipment and FDA's limit for medical devices) would quickly breakdown due to its instability and should not be a health threat. However, it sounds like any purifier that is a negative ionizer is a 'no no' due to ozone emission (however small). Disappointing because I thought it might be an effective way to try to venture out of my house or go to someone else's house and still have protection (along with wearing a mask).

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@phoenixrises

Thanks everyone for your thoughts. I was hoping someone in the forum had experience with a "personal" air purifier that you wear around your neck – like AirTamer's – whether they were effective for protecting one's health or caused lung problems and/or what your doctors had to say about it. A health environmental consultant we are working with felt that AirTamer's ozone emission (4 parts per billion which is 10 times lower than the EPA’s recommended 50 parts per billion limit on ozone for electronic equipment and FDA's limit for medical devices) would quickly breakdown due to its instability and should not be a health threat. However, it sounds like any purifier that is a negative ionizer is a 'no no' due to ozone emission (however small). Disappointing because I thought it might be an effective way to try to venture out of my house or go to someone else's house and still have protection (along with wearing a mask).

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@phoenixrises I think the personal air purifiers are ok in theory and in lab situations for research data, but in the real world are, perhaps, not as good as their advertising and certainly not without issues for the user. My rule of thumb has always been, “When in doubt – don’t!” irene5

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@phoenixrises

Thanks everyone for your thoughts. I was hoping someone in the forum had experience with a "personal" air purifier that you wear around your neck – like AirTamer's – whether they were effective for protecting one's health or caused lung problems and/or what your doctors had to say about it. A health environmental consultant we are working with felt that AirTamer's ozone emission (4 parts per billion which is 10 times lower than the EPA’s recommended 50 parts per billion limit on ozone for electronic equipment and FDA's limit for medical devices) would quickly breakdown due to its instability and should not be a health threat. However, it sounds like any purifier that is a negative ionizer is a 'no no' due to ozone emission (however small). Disappointing because I thought it might be an effective way to try to venture out of my house or go to someone else's house and still have protection (along with wearing a mask).

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Maybe I am in the minority here, but I feel like going out of my house, if I practice good hand hygiene, wear a mask, socially distance and behave responsibly, is a minimal risk.

I have asthma, bronchiectasis, and other health issues, have a husband with several health risks, and we are both in the higher risk category due to our ages. We have remained safe using the above practices through many activities since March including overnight travel, surgery OT/PT & doctor visits, daily walks, even outdoor restaurant meals.

We have 10 other people in our "Covid Bubble" – our daughters, son-in-law, 2 grandchildren and 5 close friends. I really believe the key to staying safe but not alone include finding a small like-minded circle of people taking the precautions, having everyone stay home if they even suspect they or someone in the house is ill, handling masks properly & washing them often. Even my little grandsons willingly wear masks if it means they can be with Grandma, Bompa & Auntie.

With friends, we mainly gather outdoors, if we are not apart or venture inside, we wear our masks. We have group meals, but stretch our tables to their limits or eat in little "pods" with TV trays, put masks on after eating. I even managed 2 months of "Grandma daycare" without any illness.

We gather cautiously outdoors with anyone outside our bubble, masked & staying at safe distance and have managed a wide variety of activities. I also quickly walk away from any place of business where I feel mask wearing, distancing, and cleaning are not diligently practiced – sadly that means I can't go to my favorite hardware, grocery or drug stores right now and have had to find alternates.

Just remember that the greatest risks of contracting Covid are droplets from breathing, which become more concentrated in smaller (indoor) spaces and with more people. Going outdoors has not been shown to pose any risk unless you have close contact with other people.

Sue

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@sueinmn Sue, I agree with all of your practices and your not in the minority with me. I run a business and have to keep it going but I'm diligent about mask wearing and no one can come in my store without one. I truly believe if we can stay masked and keep distances and wash hands we can still function as a society and keep the economy going. Nan

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@alleycatkate

@johnbishop I have no experience or knowledge regarding air ionizers. Sorry.

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@johnbishop I don’t have any knowledge of air ionizers either. Sry

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Wow! I never knew there could be negative effects from these air purifiers. I will have to look my model up and see what kind of system it is. I just recently started using mine again due to my daughter moving in with her cat. Since I have started using it at night in my room; my cough, lung congestion, and runny nose has subsided quite a bit. Mine is a stand-alone unit, I think with an ionizing filter, could be hepa. I clean the filter on a regular basis.

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@windwalker

Wow! I never knew there could be negative effects from these air purifiers. I will have to look my model up and see what kind of system it is. I just recently started using mine again due to my daughter moving in with her cat. Since I have started using it at night in my room; my cough, lung congestion, and runny nose has subsided quite a bit. Mine is a stand-alone unit, I think with an ionizing filter, could be hepa. I clean the filter on a regular basis.

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Hi Terri – Mine stand-alone unit has filters which I regularly clean & replace. The ones on the furnace, my husband replaces twice as often as required. Both are charcoal & HEPA – not ionic. Our friends have a HEPA plus ionizing systems, located at the furnace & venting through the furnace outlet – this is supposed to reduce the ozone in the air. But it requires monthly maintenance, which sounds like a pain to me.
My concern with the "personal" purifiers is that you are blowing the ozone right in your face, and even low doses can accumulate. If yours is a room-sized unit situated away from your bed & body, chances that your are receiving much ozone from it is probably pretty small. But worthwhile checking.
Sue

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@nannette

@sueinmn Sue, I agree with all of your practices and your not in the minority with me. I run a business and have to keep it going but I'm diligent about mask wearing and no one can come in my store without one. I truly believe if we can stay masked and keep distances and wash hands we can still function as a society and keep the economy going. Nan

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I agree Nan. Life has to go on in our communities, but must be done with care. I feel fortunate that I am in a position to stay at home for the majority of the time to keep myself safe. I have been a homebody for the last 10 yrs so I am used to, and prefer, to stay in my home and yard. I am actually a little relieved that I no longer have obligatory things to attend outside the home as I have little energy. Sadly, I don't miss family gatherings, happy hours, or parties. It is the lack of energy that made all of these things a chore for me. I hope your business continues to do well, your little store rocks!!

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