Are air sterilisers and purifiers safe?

In a previous blog post, we talked about the differences between air sterilisers and purifiers. But a common question that is asked of both of these products is – are they safe to use?


Article in Summary: Most air sterilisers and purifiers are totally safe to use. The only thing to bear in mind is a product that uses ozone to disinfect the surrounding air, as this can be harmful to us if generated in large quantities. But, if used in small quantities and in conjunction with other methods, then these products are also safe to use.


HEPA-filter based products

High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters capture airborne contaminants, and usually relies on a set of three filters. The smallest particles in the air will go through a process of diffusion, which involves these particles becoming trapped by gas particles and the fibres on that filter.

The slightly larger particles will simply stick to the fibres when they come into contact with it. And then the largest particles will collide with the fibres and become stuck within them.

Products that incorporate HEPA filters are perfectly safe, and are great for filtering out bacteria and chemicals. However, they do not remove these from the environment – they just get trapped.

UV light-based products

UV-light is quite effective in eliminating bacteria and viruses. The ultraviolet light destroys the microbes’ cells, unlike the HEPA filters which just trap them inside.

Some products that use UV light can also convert oxygen and water molecules into ozone. This can then react with any air pollutants and destroy them.

However, products like these have to ensure that the ozone produced and used does not exceed a certain amount, as then it can become a lung irritant and could lead to a number of health issues.

Ionisers

These devices generate millions of negative ions into the air. They pull the air in and charge the atoms into negative ions, which are then released back into the air. These negative ions will then attach themselves to the positive ions in the air. Once combined, these ions become heavy and fall to the ground or surrounding surfaces.

These sterilisers are completely safe as negative ions already naturally occur in our environment, and we interact with them all the time.

Ozone generators

There are also sterilisers that produce ozone as a way to disinfect and sterilise the air around us. As already mentioned, ozone can be great for just this, but only in very small quantities.

The Environmental Protection Agency has stated that breathing in ozone can be harmful to our health. It's a known lung irritant, so it can cause coughing, throat inflamation and breathing difficulties. And it can be especially harmful to those with existing conditions, such as asthma.


Our air sterilisers use a combination of UV light, negative ions, and ozone to target and eliminate those nasty air pollutants. Only low levels of ozone are produced, in line with the European biocide directive, so these devices are safe to use.

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