A wild study found that air supposedly “purified” with ionizers was actually worse than raw diesel exhaust. Believe it or not, the researchers found participants to inhale diesel exhaust in a laboratory.
Study: Ionized Air Worse Than Raw Diesel Fuel
Researchers from the University of British Columbia had participants sit in a small room and breathe diesel exhaust for two hours. During one session, they inhaled raw diesel exhaust.
This exhaust contains carbon monoxide, tiny particles, nitric oxide, and numerous other harmful air pollutants.
During another session, the researchers ran the diesel exhaust through an ionizer. This is a product that people purchase and use in their homes. It could already be installed in the central air system of your office or school.
An ionizer works by charging incoming particles with negative electricity. This charge causes those particles to stick to the metal plates in the machine, which are positively charged.
Sounds good, right? Pollution particles stick to the plates, just like static electricity can make a balloon stick to a wall (or to your hair).
Ionizers Produce Pollution
Contrary to expectations, the ionizer actually generated more NO2, producing four times as much.
This Is What Happens When You Use an Ionizer
Numerous studies have examined the effects of ionizers on air quality. For instance, one study discovered that ionizers can generate formaldehyde. It’s relatively easy to measure air pollutants. However, it’s much more difficult to get individuals to participate in lab studies where they must inhale air pollution and have their blood analyzed.
That’s why this research is so exceptional. These courageous participants first agreed to inhale diesel exhaust and then allowed researchers to analyze their blood.
“Eosinophils” are what they’re known as. They are white blood cells that the body uses to fight infections. They’re indicators of inflammation, and people with more of these inflammatory cells in their blood generally die younger.
After inhaling that ionized air, the participants had more of these inflammation markers.
And this was in comparison to individuals who breathed raw diesel exhaust. The ionized air was worse than diesel exhaust. Incredible!
To provide some sanity, the researchers also examined a much less interesting technology: regular old HEPA filters. These are just a bunch of fibers that were created 80 years ago.
HEPA filters remove PM2.5 particles but do not impact gases. They’re like ionizers but without any side effects.
Breathing through HEPA filters resulted in a smaller inflammatory reaction than breathing in raw diesel.