There is much confusion in the air purifier market about the difference between air purifiers and ozone generators. This is because ozone generators are increasingly sold as air purifiers, despite the fact that they do quite the opposite. Despite what any retailer will tell you, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emphasizes that there are no federal government-approved ozone-generating devices for indoor occupied spaces. In fact, they’re banned in California. These machines can be incredibly detrimental to your health because they need to produce dangerous levels of ozone to be effective. If you want to tackle odor in your home, you can check out our feature on what to use instead of an ozone generator. To find out about the difference between air purifiers and ozone generators, just keep reading.

What is ozone, and why is it damaging?

Ozone is a gas that occurs naturally in our atmosphere and unnaturally at ground level. When it occurs naturally in the atmosphere, ozone acts as a protective layer against the sun’s harmful UV rays. Nearer to ground level, ozone is created when air pollutants are expelled from power plants, cars, etc., and react chemically to the sunlight – hence ozone creation is more common during summer months.

On the other hand, ground-level ozone is harmful to the respiratory system, especially your lungs. According to the EPA, ozone has been known to reduce lung function, exacerbate asthma and make your lungs more vulnerable to infection. Basically, it’s pretty dangerous stuff.

(Image credit: Home Depot)

Ozone generators take the air in your home and apply an electrical charge, which splits the oxygen (O2) in your home into unstable atoms. These atoms can bond with many atoms in your home, including those which create odors (therefore eliminating them), but they will also bond with regular oxygen to create ozone (O3).