Air purifiers and ionizers are both used to clean the air and remove allergens and pollutants. While they both serve the same purpose, the way they do it is quite different. An ion generator works by charging particles in a room so that they are attracted to walls, floors, tables, curtains, occupants, etc. Abrasion can cause these particles to be resuspended in the air.
In some cases, these devices contain a collector to attract charged particles back to the unit. While ion generators can remove small particles, no controlled study has confirmed this effect. Ozone is produced indirectly by ion generators and some other electronic air purifiers and directly by ozone generators. Ozone is a lung irritant and can be present in outdoor smog. Under certain conditions of use, ion generators and other air filters that generate ozone can produce levels of this lung irritant well above levels considered harmful to human health.
The Food and Drug Administration has set a limit of 0.05 parts per million of ozone for medical devices. Ionized air purifiers are commonly used to clean the air and remove allergens and dust. However, unlike HEPA air purifiers, air ionizers don't use fibers to trap contaminants and generally don't use filters. It's important to make sure that the ionizer is generating an ionization field and not a corona discharge. When buying an air purifier with ionizer, remember that units that do not produce a corona discharge were never designed to sterilize particles or air moving through the ionization section. In addition to air purifiers and ionizers, ionization is used in several applications, including laser printers, powder spray guns, and disinfectant sprayers.
It's important to keep in mind that air ionizers need regular cleaning, as particles can be attracted back onto products if not removed periodically. Corona ionizers require periodic cleaning to remove the particles that are attracted and prevent them from being deposited back on the products.