HEPA vs Ozone/Electronic Air Cleaning Devices

There are a variety of air cleaning technologies on the market that claim to do an effective job of cleaning your indoor air. They are defined by The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers to be the following:


HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air, and like the name says, these filters are designed to remove 99.97% of all airborne pollutants 0.3 microns or larger from the air that passes through the filter (these include tobacco smoke, household dust and pollen).


These ultra-HEPA filters are designed to trap 99.999% all air-borne particles 0.3 microns or smaller from the air that passes through the filter (these include tobacco smoke, household dust and pollen).


Electrostatic units filter the air using static electricity have a static charge on the filter to allow airborne particles to "stick" to the filter, just like static-charged clothing sticks together.


These air cleaners create opposite charges on the metal plates or wires in a "filter" assembly. They attract the dust, pollen, smoke and other particles to the plate or grid wire that contains an opposite charge. The assembly can be washed of the particles and used again.


These air cleaners introduce small quantities of ozone into the air to reduce airborne pollutants.


Ionizers may be combined with other technologies, including different types of filters. Ionization units emit a small charge to the airstream which cause particles to adhere to the filter or other surfaces by a magnetic-like attraction.

Air Tamarack recommends room air cleaners that contain a HEPA filter along with a carbon and zeolite filter for odor control. Within this category, we commend Austin Air Room Air Cleaners. Over the last 10 years the Austin Air filter has been consistently ranked #1 in the world in any number of consumer and commercial tests.

Both the American Lung Association and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have published documents on indoor air cleaners which help sort through the different varieties of filtration.

The American Lung Association’s publication "Air Cleaning Devices" can be found at www.lungusa.org/air/air00_aircleaners.html

The American Lung Association says, "...ozone is a potent lung irritant. It can have damaging health effects, especially for persons with asthma and other lung diseases, children and the elderly. It is produced directly by ozone generators and indirectly by ion generators and some other electronic air cleaners."

"The American Lung Association suggests that ozone generators not be used."

The U.S. EPA publication "Ozone Generators that are Sold as Air Cleaners" is available on the EPA website at http://www.epa.gov/iedweb00/pubs/ozonegen.html

Here is what the U.S. EPA has to say, " The same chemical properties that allow high concentrations of ozone to react with organic material outside the body give it the ability to react with similar organic material that makes up the body, and potentially cause harmful health consequences. When inhaled, ozone can damage the lungs. Relatively low amounts can cause chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath, and, throat irritation. Ozone may also worsen chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma and compromise the ability of the body to fight respiratory infections."

"Manufacturers and vendors of ozone devices often use misleading terms to describe ozone. Terms such as ‘energized oxygen’ or ‘pure air’ suggest that ozone is a healthy kind of oxygen. Ozone is a toxic gas with vastly different chemical and toxicological properties from oxygen."

"Some vendors suggest that these devices [ozone generators] have been approved by the federal government for use in occupied spaces. To the contrary, NO agency of the federal government has approved these devices for use in occupied spaces."

You can learn more about Austin Air room air cleaners in another section of our Air Tamarack website.