Are You Creating a First Stage Smog Alert in Your Home?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

California leads the rest of the States as being the forerunner in enacting progressive environmental changes and as such will continue to apply tighter controls on manufacturing and industry in California. It is no surprise that California's Environmental Protection Agency air quality standards are higher than other states.

So here we go again! EPA has a fact sheet: Beware of Ozone-generating Indoor "Air Purifiers" It didn't take much to shock me when I learned I may have been contributing to making my asthma worse. What I want to know is, "why didn't I know this sooner?" This Fact Sheet from the California EPA Air Resource Board was published March 2006. The LA Times reported in an article dated September 28,2007 that the California Resource Board just banned them on Thursday, stating that studies have found "that they can worsen conditions such as asthma that marketers claim they help prevent."

Holy guacamole! I inadvertently created my own work place health hazard!
I bought mine because they were advertising on the radio all the time and everyone swore by them. I trusted the advertising. I read all the literature and it all appeared to rid the allergens and that sounded good to me. It must be good for asthmatics, right? Wrong according the ARB. The problem is the makers of these air purifiers can sell them to the unsuspecting public who are led to believe they will benefit from the use of these machines, when the truth is there is no government agency that has the authority to fully regulate these devises. The California ARB is actively working to educate professionals and the public about the dangers of using ozone generators. I am printing this ARB fact sheet and handing it to my doctor this week.

Let the Buyer Beware
I am outraged. I have two of these air purifiers, one in my car and one at work. I run them constantly on purify. Also, I am in the habit of putting the thing to "sanitize mode" once in a while, thinking I was "cleaning the air" by ridding the air of allergens and mold. Now I read in the fact sheet from the EPA that exposure to ozone irritates and inflames the lining of the respiratory system. It causes coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. (I actually brought the one at work from home, thinking that I was doing a good thing by "purifying my office"). In fact, when I come to work, my symptoms worsen, I choke for air and have a difficult time talking without coughing for air. It is horrible being in the middle of a presentation and not be able to talk because I cannot breathe! At home, I don't have such a difficult time.

In doing further research I discovered that the problem is not just isolated to air purifiers. The lack of government involvement has led to companies who manufacture these types of products to not adhere to any testing standards and market products that are considered to cause potentially damaging health risks.

The recommendation:
The ARB states "We strongly advise against the use of ozone generators in occupied spaces. Other governmental agencies agree with this advise. (2. 3) Excerpted from the March 2006 Fact Sheet, Beware of Ozone- Generating Indoor "Air Purifiers." For more information, contact the Air Quality Resource Board, Research division Indoor Air Quality Program, (916) 322-8282 (indoor information message line). Or go to
After reading the information, I decided to turn off my Air Purifier. I'll see if I feel better with the confounded machine turned off. Boy, am I mad!

So what does this have to do with planning my kitchen remodel you ask?
Kitchen's are a source of indoor air pollution and need to be vented properly. Cooking generates grease, smoke, cooking odor, moisture and even some toxic emissions form gas ovens, ranges and cook tops, wood burning bricked open pizza ovens all contribute to a major source of indoor air pollution in your home. When planning a kitchen you must not overlook the importance of healthy indoor air.
  • Proper ventilation with the use of a vent hood is the most effective source of ventilation. Although they can be noisy, they do not have to be run for long.
  • Recirculating or unvented models that do not require ducting pulls air through a filter and returns it into the room. They are not as effective a method of moving combustion gasses and should only be used in cases where it is impossible to duct the exhaust to the outside.
  • Downdrafts are an alternative to the overhead vent systems. Their biggest drawback is they don't do as well for cooking with tall pots.
  • Another way to get rid of stale indoor air is with a centrally located device.
  • Fresh air from kitchen windows to help with the exchange of air. Turn your vent fan on to exhaust the smoke and grease and open your window to bring in fresh air. Take care to not let the rush of fresh air to blow out the gas flame.
  • Room Exhaust fans and also the central HVAC Systems distribute and exchange the air.
(Cited from the National Kitchen and Bath Association, Kitchen and Bath Systems).

Other ways to minimize the release of outdoor pollutants indoors:
  • Carefully follow the directions on sumer products such as cleaning agents, paints and glues;
  • Properly maintain and operate gas-and wood-burning appliances;
  • Restrict smoking to outdoor areas.
  • Purchase building materials and wood furniture that do not emit formaldehyde;
  • use candles and incense sparingly, if at all and
  • Clean frequently and throughly to prevent dust and mold build-up.


Ellen,  October 04, 2007  

Thanks for the great info on air purifiers and how to properly vent a kitchen. We just did an article on on "Are Big, Open Kitchens Green?", which discusses how proper air flow in a kitchen can make it more environmentally friendly in terms of energy usage. Check it out at:

Anonymous,  November 12, 2007  

You wouldn't want to connect such a device where the output would be breathed or could kill a plant.

Putting it right under the air inlet of the air conditioner tho, might go a long way towards retarding the growth of mold in already contaminated buildings, preventing a lot of stench. Of course, if you have breathing problems, you should probably just get out of any building like that anyways.

It always pissed me off that California was all nit picky about a little ozone for people with asthma, but then the state practically gives water away to farmers who totally pollute the air with pollen! What about the people with hay fever and other plant allergies?

Seems it only matters when it matches up with a political agenda that basically strives to keep the drive-ins busy and view from Beverly Hills nice. BLargh!

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