Air Sterilisation: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly….Part 1

In this two part series, we wish to review the various Air Sterilisation Technologies for indoor occupied areas.

In this article, its more  a question of  ‘The Bad, the Bad, and The Ugly’


Ionisation is a common method being used in air purification systems. While it has been proven to kill bacteria and common viruses including Covid-19, ions are harmful to those exposed to it.

A study by the University of California Irvine found that ionic air purifiers are capable of maintaining steady-state levels of Ozone that are well in excess of the health-protective standards.

In addition, Consumer Reports tested several ionisation air cleaners and found that many emitted significant levels of Ozone.

Why is this important? Ozone inhalation can be harmful to both adults and children, and therefore its generation should be avoided indoors.

Furthermore, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, Ionisation causes CO2 build up which can negatively impact cognitive abilities and decision-making, making the occupants of the space lethargic.


Ozone has been extensively used for water purification, but Ozone chemistry in water is not the same as Ozone chemistry in air.

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.

High concentrations of Ozone in air, when people are not present, are sometimes used to help decontaminate an unoccupied space from certain chemical or biological contaminants or odours (e.g., fire restoration). While Ozone sanitization is an effective method of air sterilization as it removes airborne pathogens like viruses, bacteria and germs from the environment, Ozone is known to have many adverse health effects.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, United States, breathing in Ozone can result in chest pain, coughing, throat irritation, congestion, lung issues and even premature death at high levels, as well as worsen bronchitis, emphysema and asthma.

According to a study by Columbia and Rutgers Universities, high doses of Ozone can cause a transformation in animal cells similar to cancer. Ozone’s harmful effects are magnified when it dissipates indoors and creates more invisible contaminants.

Furthermore, Ozone can adversely affect indoor plants, and damage materials such as rubber, electrical wire coatings and fabrics and artwork containing susceptible dyes and pigments.


Similar to Ozone, manufacturers and vendors often use attractive, and potentially misleading terms, to describe their purification technology such as ‘Plasma Air Purifiers’.

‘Plasma’ technology relies on the formation of ions in an electric field. The intention is to pass air through this field, over their Ionisation tubes, to purify the air.

This is a similar to the process used in ‘Ionisation’ except in this case it is using both positive and negative ions. This is just another type of Ionisation air purifier with the same health risks.

As is evident, none of the above technologies are suitable for an occupied indoor space. When selecting an air purifier or air sanitisation unit, ensure that you make an informed decision.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Seek an expert opinion.

Stay Safe, Stay Open

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