December 18, 2008 10:22 ET

Don't Give the Gift of Unhealthy Air This Holiday Season

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - December 18, 2008) - While air purifiers are often advertised as a great gift for "the person that has everything," Santa may want to do some research first before putting them under the tree this holiday season. Some air purifiers may actually create a health hazard without significantly improving indoor air quality, according to researchers, government agencies and respected consumer advocates.

At issue are air purifiers that generate ozone, either intentionally or as a byproduct of an "ionic" function. While ozone is a naturally-occurring combination of three oxygen atoms, it is a recognized health hazard at high concentrations and worker exposure to high indoor ozone concentrations is regulated by the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), among other federal agencies. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), some of the health risks of high indoor ozone concentrations include decreases in lung function, aggravation of asthma, throat irritation and cough, chest pain and shortness of breath, inflammation of lung tissue and a higher susceptibility to respiratory infection.

The EPA is straightforward in its assessment of ozone-producing air purifiers: "Whether in its pure form or mixed with other chemicals, ozone can be harmful to health. Some studies show that ozone concentrations produced by ozone generators can exceed health standards even when one follows manufacturer's instructions. Available scientific evidence shows that, at concentrations that do not exceed public health standards, ozone is generally ineffective in controlling indoor air pollution." ("Ozone Generators that are Sold as Air Cleaners,"

In addition to the EPA, Consumer Reports has rated consumer-quality ozone generators as "Not Acceptable," and regulations will go into effect in California in 2010 that will require certification of all in-home air purification devices to ensure that they do not generate dangerous amounts of ozone.

NADCA - The HVAC Inspection, Maintenance and Restoration Association, cautions consumers that "quick-fix" solutions to indoor air quality such as ozone-generating air purifiers fail to accomplish the most important component of indoor air quality, which is removal of the source of airborne contaminants. Whether it is closing out or eliminating sources of pollution, cleaning/replacement of carpeting and/or furniture, duct and HVAC system cleaning or some other method of eliminating whatever is causing the problem in the first place, real air quality improvement takes more work than simply plugging in an air cleaner. Given that one of the most common sources of household airborne contaminants is a house's own duct system, NADCA recommends having residential air ducts inspected once a year, and cleaned as needed, by a certified contractor.

About NADCA:

NADCA - The HVAC Inspection, Maintenance and Restoration Association was formed in 1989 as the National Air Duct Cleaners Association, and has since expanded its mission to become a trusted advocate for consumers and the industry on environmental and health issues surrounding heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. NADCA was the first organization to develop industry-standard best practices and its "Standard for Assessment, Cleaning & Restoration of HVAC Systems" is in use in more than 30 countries worldwide as a best practice and/or basis for national law. NADCA has more than 1,000 corporate members and more than 1,500 individuals certified as Air System Cleaning Specialists, Ventilation Inspectors or Ventilation System Mold Remediators. For more information or to find a NADCA-certified contractor near you, visit

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