Talking Allergies

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Author:  applianceman [ Mon Feb 27, 2006 11:42 pm ]

Don't fall for the scam that I did. My wife and I had a number of allergy issues that we were constantly taking medications for. We went through a slew of room air cleaners and finally realized that while it seems to collect alot of dust, the dust/air in the home will continue to average out among the rooms. Hence the dust and crap will keep coming. I purchased 3 Ionic Breeze air cleaners and let them run. It seemed that the air smelled clean for awhile, although our symptoms didn't change much. My wife and I began to get coughing fits that wouldn't go away unless we were out of the house. After doing some research, I found that Ionizers produce ozone. It gives that fresh rain smell in the house. It is also a lung irritant. I got rid of those and bought a Broan HEPA/AirExchanger from a contractor here in DC and our runny eyes, nose and sinus headaches went away. I am amazed to what that thing takes out of the air.

Author:  Daisy [ Tue Feb 28, 2006 9:32 pm ]
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I totally agree!

I have a medical-grade air cleaner for my bedroom. Works great. Also has a carbon filter for gases/odors.

I was having some work done on our home, and a fellow asked if I would test his unit (one of highly over-priced ioner types) against my air cleaner. Not only did it not help my allergy symptoms dust-wise, but I couldn't stand the smell when it was on it's "ozone cleaning" setting (I of course only ran this setting when we were out of the room.) It didn't smell "clean" to me; smelled more like amonia or a "chemical smell." I think they must have some sort of placebo effect on some people that swear their allergies are better. From my lab background, I must have proof.


Author:  Helen [ Fri Mar 03, 2006 11:05 am ]
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Daisy, what brand of air cleaner do you use?

Also, I'm wondering about beeswax candles. The objections to air ionizers seem to be that they produce ozone---beeswax candles are supposed to create negative ions but they don't generate ozone ( i wouldn't think). But my question would be whether the candles produce enough negative ions to make any appreciable difference. Has anyone found burning beeswax to be helpful?

Author:  Daisy [ Sat Mar 04, 2006 7:50 pm ]
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I have an Aireox cleaner. They are a little less expensive than the Austin Air, but it is working well. We take it with us everywhere we go. My husband used to balk at taking it, now he's the first one to grab it. When we check into a hotel, the first thing we do is plug it in and leave for a couple of hours. When we come back -- no odor. When I cook something odorous like broccoli downstairs, I come upstairs and close the bedroom and it's gone in just a few minutes. Very effective. Look for how many "air exchanges" it does per hour. Some of the less expensive models (like you find in home improvement stores) just do the area right around the cleaner; they do not really "exchange" the room air. see


Author:  Helen [ Mon Mar 06, 2006 12:40 am ]
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Thanks, Daisy. I should probably invest in one of these air cleaners. I do have one, but it is about 7 years old....I used it for awhile, but it is so loud that it is hard to sleep!

Author:  Jules Grimm [ Thu May 04, 2006 9:46 am ]
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Helen: If you are looking to buy a air purifier / room cleaner then maybe you should take look at these products - they're all specifically made to be used by people who suffer from allergies.

There are some products that have HEPA and some have ULPA filters, but guess you should take a look and decide if you think any of them would be suitable for you. Can help to give you a greater range of choices that you can make a selection from.


Author:  Daisy [ Thu May 25, 2006 9:32 am ]
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See this recent article from several news outlets:

Ozone Generators Create Home Smog

Air Purifiers That Produce Ozone May Be Hurting Your Health By Daniel DeNoon
WebMD Medical News Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD
on Thursday, May 11, 2006

May 11, 2006 -- You can create dangerous smog levels in your own home with an ozone-generating air purifier.

The finding comes from a study of ozone-emitting air purifiers by Sergey A. Nizkorodov, PhD, and colleagues at the University of California, Irvine. The researchers studied 13 air purifiers known to give off small and large amounts of ozone, a major ingredient in air pollution.

Included in the study were several ionic air purifiers made by The Sharper Image, including the popular Ionic Breeze Quadra. These machines produce detectable levels of ozone. But they did not emit dangerous levels of ozone, except when a Quadra model intended for a large room was tested in a tiny bathroom.

Ozone generators, however, were a different story. As they are designed to do, they put a lot of ozone into indoor spaces. The devices quickly caused ozone buildups to levels that would trigger severe smog alerts for outdoor air.

"If I put one in my office, I can generate a stage 2 ozone level if I want to," Nizkorodov tells WebMD. "This is the problem -- right now it is not controlled. Air purifiers that make ozone above a certain rate should be banned. The public should not be allowed to buy them."

Ozone is great in the upper atmosphere, where it protects the Earth from harmful radiation. Ground-level ozone, however, isn't our friend. According to the American Lung Association, ozone exposure may lead to premature death, shortness of breath, chest pain when inhaling deeply, and wheezing and coughing. High ozone levels irritate the lung and make asthma worse.

The Nizkorodov study, funded by the National Science Foundation, appears in the May issue of the Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association.

Ozone Generators vs. Ionic Air Purifiers

It's easy for consumers to be confused. Three basic kinds of devices call themselves air purifiers. None is foolproof. Consumer Reports has found that "even the best air cleaners could be a frivolous investment."

There's no ozone emission from air purifiers that use only high-efficiency particulate air filters (HEPA filters) to cleanse the air. Ionizing air purifiers, because of their electric charge, do create ozone. Consumer Reports has warned that they may give off potentially harmful ozone levels.

"There are plenty of ionic air purifiers; only a small fraction make ozone," Nizkorodov says.

Mark Connelly, senior director of appliances and home improvement for Consumer Reports, oversees the magazine's air-cleaner tests.

"You don't want to say that anything that generates ozone is bad," Connelly tells WebMD. "A printer produces ozone, but just because printers sit on people's desks doesn't mean they should be taken off the market. But the people who buy air purifiers are most susceptible to the problems they create. You buy it to make things better, and it ends up making things worse for you."

Whatever ozone comes from ionic air purifiers pales in comparison to the amount produced by ozone-generating air purifiers. These machines make ozone for one reason: That's what they are designed to do.

"Ozone is a very effective way of disinfecting water -- and some believe it is also possible to do this in the air," Nizkorodov says. "Unfortunately, at the concentrations you need to destroy germs and pollutants, the ozone levels are so high you cannot safely use it."

In a small bathroom, the UCI researchers found that one ozone generator, the EZ-COM Air Purifier, took only a half hour to build up ozone to a smog level that would force school closings if detected in a city's air. In a 1,250-square-foot office, the device took about a half hour to build ozone to smog levels that would trigger unsafe air alerts.

By contrast, the Sharper Image Ionic Breeze Quadra model -- an ionic air purifier, not an ozone generator -- built ozone to a maximum level of 40 parts per billion (ppb) in a large office. The FDA considers medical devices safe if they emit less than 50 ppb of ozone. The World Health Organization considers eight-hour ozone levels of 60 ppb to be acceptable.

The Quadra did make the air unsafe when used in a small bathroom -- not the products' intended use, says Sharper Image spokeswoman Suzie Stephens.

"Sharper Image products were included in the study and, in fact, met all safety standards for ultra-low trace ozone emissions when the appropriate-sized models were used in the manufacturer-recommended room sizes," Stephens tells WebMD. "Why they chose to place the unit in a room size for which it is clearly not intended nor used is inexplicable."

Stephens worries that the UCI study sows confusion by testing ionic air purifiers alongside ozone generators. Indeed, she points to news reports on the study that confused Sharper Image products with ozone generators.

"The study found that ozone generators, not ionic air purifiers when used appropriately, can generate potentially unsafe levels of ozone indoors," Stephens says. "None of the Sharper Image air purifiers are ozone generators."

Government Action on the Way?

While Consumer Reports has been critical of ionic air purifiers -- including explicit criticism of the Sharper Image Ionic Breeze Professional with OzoneGuard -- it is far less worried about these devices than about ozone generators.

"We slammed ozone generators back in 1992 -- but they are still being marketed to unsuspecting people," he says. "Those people most susceptible to harm are cranking ozone into their lungs. Ozone generators should be regulated first and foremost."

There's already a bill before the California legislature to regulate these devices. And the California Air Resources Board will meet on May 25 to update its recommendation on ozone generators.

Nizkorodov says he thinks California will set a limit on how much ozone a device will be allowed to generate. He guesses the limit will be between 10 and 100 milligrams of ozone per hour -- and his bet is on the lower limit.

His study found that the Sharper Image Ionic Breeze Quadra puts out 2.2 milligrams of ozone per hour -- far below the lowest limit California is likely to set.

On the other hand, ozone generators fail the test. The EZ-COM Air Purifier put out 68 mg/hour, while the Air-Zone XT-400 put out a whopping 220 mg/hour.

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