Pros: None, unless you like the smell of ozone
Cons: This device deliberately generates ozone which is a toxic gas and a major air pollutant
I don't write a review of a product on epinions unless I feel strongly about a product. Since I feel very strongly in the negative direction against the so-called "Living Air Classic" this review will reflect that.
WHY I WROTE THIS REVIEW
Like a lot of people I have heard the radio ads for the "Living Air Classic" and wondered why, if this product is so great, I have never seen it for sale in stores. But I never gave it a second thought until I had to.
I work in a health food store where the owner purchased for $600 dollars an EcoQuest Living Air Classic for use in the store. Like so many others, she heard the glowing radio ads for it. It just so happens that one of her customers was a distributor for this product and sold her on it - literally and figuratively speaking. Since I only work at the store I paid no attention to the matter. Besides, its her store, she can do what she likes with it. Anyway, a product which purports to improve health - (e.g. asthma, etc) as ads for the "Living Air Classic" claim - naturally belongs in a health food store. Doesn't it?
However, right from the beginning of its operation, in short order I started to become naseously sick. When I left work, my sick feeling went away. At first I did not connect my sickness with the unit. But after another employee in the store inadvertently disconnected the unit, I noticed that my naseous feelings at work went away. Curious to put two and two together, I spent many weeks at home researching what this unit is and does. What follows is just the tip of the iceberg of my what I discovered.
WHAT IS THE "LIVING AIR CLASSIC"?
The answer to this question is not so simple as it seems.
First of all, the "Living Air Classic" is not an air filtration device. It does not filter the air. It is not an air cleaner because it does not clean the air. EcoQuest claims that it "purifies" the air.
According to the ad copy for it, the "Living Air Classic" is an "air purification system." Not an air purifier, mind you, but a "system." So far, so good. The funny thing is that it is really just a device that is not very big. Why isn't it simply called an air purifier or air cleaner like every other device that it supposedly competes with? The answer is that, of course, "system" sounds so much better.
HOW BIG IS IT?
The "Living Air Classic" unit is about the size of a small stereo speaker (height = 11.75" width = 8" depth = 9.75").
WHAT DOES IT RUN ON?
It runs on 110 volt power.
HOW LARGE AN AREA DOES IT CLAIM TO COVER?
EcoQuest claims that the fan which comes with their "Living Air Classic" has an air moving ability of 400 cfm (cubic feet per minute) and that it works for indoor areas up to 3000 square feet.
When I read that claim I immediately knew something was fishy because even MUCH larger air cleaning machines claim much less coverage and usually only over an enclosed room.
WHAT IS ITS CLEAN AIR DELIVERY RATE?
The people who sell it claim that it has "a great CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate) but they don't say what it is.
But their claim that even has a CADR is very suspicious to begin with.
You see "CADR" was first developed by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) and others in 1988 and was based on the recommended standard for particulate removal developed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
This standard, known as AC-1, measures the removal of tobacco smoke particles, dust and pollen. The Federal Trade Commission and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have both reviewed and agreed that the AC-1 provides a reasonable basis for making claims on performance.
AHAM issues a list of manufacturers and their products which merit a CADR rating and the "Living Air Classic" is not among them. EcoQuest is not even mentioned in the list of reputable manufacturers.
SO WHAT DOES THE "LIVING AIR CLASSIC" DELIVER?
Ozone. In fact, they admit it:
"The Classic utilizes ECOTECH, a synergy of Ion Generation Technology in conjunction with controlled low-level Ozone Generation."
So they finally admit what the "Living Air Classic" really is: an ozone and ion generator.
They say that it can only be used as "a sanitizing appliance set on high to reduce mold, bacteria, and mildew in a CONFINED area."
What's more, reading the ad copy for the "Living Air Classic" isn't enough. Buried in the instructions for the unit is the warning that the "sanitizing" feature can only be used in an UNOCCUPIED room!
In other words, on its "low" setting the "Living Air Classic" doesn't do much of anything except make the air smell funny - something like the chlorine smell at an indoor public pool.
But on the "high" setting, the "Living Air Classic" produces levels of ozone that are unsafe and unhealthy to breathe. That is why Alpine/EcoQuest issues the warning not to be in the room when it is "sanitizing" the air!
The ad copy for it can be found at
According to the ad copy:
"Living Air [sic] has been scientifically tested and is the proven solution to eliminate odors, smoke and tobacco smoke. Tobacco smoke is one of the most complex indoor air contaminants known."
"Living Air can be used to improve the quality of your indoor air 24-hours a day on a lower setting, or as a sanitizing appliance set on high to reduce mold, bacteria, and mildew in a confined area."
The owner's manual (http://www.ecoquestintl.com/ownersmanuals_web/LAClassicOM.pdf) says:
"Applications: Eliminate Smoke, Odors, Tobacco smoke, Pollen, Dust Mites, Large Particulate" and "Plus it works as an appliance to Sanitize [sic] an area to Reduce: Mold, Mildew, Bacteria."
Set on low, this unit purportedly "improve[s] the quality of indoor air." Set on high, it purportedly can be used as a "sanitizing appliance" (whatever that is).
My personal favourite adcopy for the unit is at http://livingairdirect.com/faq.php:
"Living Air purifiers can remove contaminates down to .01 microns, much smaller than even the best medical grade hepa filter! Living air purifiers are capable of removing hazardous chemical fumes, viruses, bacteria, germs, allergens, pet dander, cigarette smoke and fumes and almost anything you can imagine, from the air. This is a pretty bold statement."
Yes, it certainly is a bold statement, it is also a bold faced lie. As we will see, all of Ecoquest's false claims for their ozone/ion machines have been questioned, challenged, and demolished by scientists, air quality experts, state and federal courts, and consumer testing organizations for years.
CONTROVERSY ABOUT OZONE GENERATORS USED IN HOMES
The fact is that the use of ozone to "purify" the air we breathe has been repeatedly and widely criticized and, more importantly, so has the company that makes the "Living Air Classic."
Controversy has swirled around ozone and ion generators for years among air quality experts. The overwhelming consensus of the experts in the field is overwhelmingly AGAINST ozone generators for use in addressing indoor air quality issues, especially in residential settings.
The controversy about ion generators revolves around whether they actually work and, if they work, how well they work (usually not so well).
The concern about ozone generators is much greater. If they don't produce high levels of ozone, then they don't work, because they can't work. If they do work, then they are producing dangerously high levels of ozone. That is why ozone generators for residential use is widely condemned.
See the EPA fact sheet on ozone generators at:
See also the fact sheet of the NIEHS (National Institute of Environmental Health of the National Insitutes of Health) at http://www.niehs.nih.gov/oc/factsheets/ozone/airfresh.htm
"The bottom line is this: To generate enough ozone to be potentially effective, the ozone equipment would have to produce dangerous amounts of ozone. Contrary to suggestions from some sales people, no federal agency approves, much less recommends, ozone generators for use in occupied spaces." http://www.niehs.nih.gov/oc/factsheets/ozone/airfresh.htm
See the latest statement by the CARB (California Air Resources Board) at http://www.airshare.info/index.cfm/news.1164.html
"These machines are insidious. Marketed as a strong defense against indoor air pollution, they emit ozone, the same chemical that the ARB and the US/EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) have been trying to eliminate from our air for decades," said acting ARB Chairperson Barbara Riordan. "More chilling is that some people susceptible to the ill effects of ozone will eagerly bring these Trojan horses home."
"Manufacturers often falsely claim that these devices eliminate bacteria, mold, and chemical contaminants from the air, and that they help persons with asthma and allergies.
"Independent studies by the USEPA, the Consumers Union, and others have shown that these devices do not effectively destroy microbes, remove odor sources, or reduce indoor pollutants enough to provide any health benefits."
See also http://www.arb.ca.gov/research/indoor/acdsumm.pdf
For Canada's official position see:
And last, but not least, the industry itself is itself against these machines. The International Association of Air Cleaner Manufacturers (IAACM) has come out against them:
"The International Association of Air Cleaner Manufacturers (IAACM) announced today that independent laboratory test results indicate that some popular indoor air purifiers may produce unsafe levels of ozone.
"The IAACM commissioned the testing after noticing a troubling pattern ozone producing air purifiers were being heavily marketed to individuals with asthma and other respiratory problems.
"The test results we were given by the lab indicate 5 of the 10 popular selling air purifiers fail their UL 867, Section 37, ozone test," says Glory Dolphin, Executive Director of the IAACM. "What is more troubling is that not only did ozone generators fail the test, two ionizing air cleaners also failed. Ionizing air purifiers often claim in their advertising that they are not ozone generators. 9 of the 10 air purifiers tested produced peak ozone concentrations far above the legal limit."
SOME BASIC PRO-OZONE GENERATOR PROPAGANDA
The propagandists for ozone claim that since ozone occurs in Nature therefore it is "natural" and ipso facto it is good for you since nothing naturally occuring could be bad for you. Right?
Their typical verbal formulations go something like ozone "occurs naturally in response to smog, following lightning storms, and as an overall basic cleaner in nature" or "nature is using the ozone to combat the pollution" or "ozone is how Mother Nature purifies the air outdoors."
They also say that OSHA has set a limit on ozone exposure to workers (which is true) and therefore, using their twisted reasoning, ozone is not so bad for you therefore it is good for you and what's all the fuss about?
The propagandists for ozone also frequently claim that ozone cures all kinds of ailments such as cancer and AIDS.
THE DIRTY LITTLE FACTS NOT TOLD TO YOU
The propagandists for ozone will never reveal to you the fact that ozone is universally recognized by scientists as a powerful and potentially dangerous substance.
They will never reveal to you the fact that ozone is a toxic gas with seriously negative effects on health.
They will never reveal to you the fact that ozone is irritating to the eyes and mucous membranes.
They will never reveal to you the fact that ozone can result in headaches, throat and nasal dryness, bronchitis, decreased pulmonary function capacity, and other respiratory ailments.
They will never reveal to you the fact that the respiratory signs and symptoms of exposure to ozone become more severe as the concentration of ozone increases in the air.
The will never reveal to you the fact that the foremost professional organization responsible for indoor air quality issues, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers says "Ground-level ozone (ozones bad down here!) is caused by sunlight stimulating reactions among volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen, which are by-products of combustion and other human activities. It results in asthma and other respiratory illness, distress and discomfort."
They will never reveal to you the fact that the ASHRAE has evaluated the efficiency with which commercial charcoal filters REMOVE ozone.
They will never reveal to you the fact that the FDA has never approved ozone generators for use in treating any medical conditions.
They will never reveal to you the fact that ozone is the major health threatening component OF smog. (See the EPA's intro to the subject at www.epa.gov/oar/oaqps/gooduphigh/)
They will never reveal to you the fact that no government agency in the US or Canada has approved devices which deliberately generate ozone for use in occupied spaces.
They will never reveal to you the fact that ozone generating "air purifiers" have been unequivocally condemned by the Canadian government. (See www.hc-sc.gc.ca/english/protection/warnings/1999/99_62e.htm)
They will never reveal to you the fact that the Canadian government has stated "OZONE GENERATORS MAY BE DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH" (www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hecs-sesc/cps/publications/ozone.htm)
They will never reveal to you the fact that the Canadian government has specifically singled out EcoQuest/Alpine ozone generators for inclusion on their "black list"!
They will never reveal to you the fact that these devices are widely and universally criticized for use as indoor air purifiers by every major government agency that has jurisdiction over them.
They will never reveal to you the fact that no agency of the federal government has approved these devices for use in occupied spaces." (Source: EPA)
They will never reveal to you the fact that the American Lung Association has stated directly that ozone is a potent lung irritant and exposure to elevated levels is a contributor to the exacerbation of lung disease. It is especially dangerous for persons with asthma or other chronic lung disease, children and the elderly."
They will never reveal to you the fact that the ALA advises strongly AGAINST the use of ozone generators as air purifying devices in occupied spaces.
They will never reveal to you the fact that the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) concluded that tabletop and room ozone generators are not effective in improving indoor air quality.
They will never reveal to you the fact that NIOSH categorizes ozone as chemical hazard. See http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/npgd0476.html
They will never reveal to you the fact that ozone is internationally recognized as hazardous. See http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/ipcsneng/neng0068.html
They will never reveal to you the fact that according to OSHA "Ozone can increase sensitivity to bronchoconstrictors and allergens, and may facilitate the development of asthma." See http://www.osha.gov/dts/chemicalsampling/data/CH_259300.html
They will never reveal to you the fact that the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) has stated that Ozone can cause asthma in children and may trigger attacks in asthmatics."
They will never reveal to you the fact that the AAAAI advises allergy and asthma sufferers to "avoid using indoor ionizers and electronic air cleaners which can produce ozone."
They will never reveal to you the fact that the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) says that some air cleaners called ozone generators create ozone through an electrical charge. Ozone can be dangerous for persons with lung disease such as asthma and therefore ozone generators are not recommended."
They will never reveal to you the fact that every single agency, institution, and organization dedicated to improving air quality opposes the use of ozone generators.
They will never reveal to you the fact that every single institution and organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with asthma and allergies and their caregivers, through education, advocacy and research oppose the use of ozone generators, like the Living Air Classic."
They will never reveal to you the fact that ozone and ozone generators are dealt with in American law in the CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) as follows:
"Code of Federal Regulations
(Title 21, Volume 8) (Revised as of April 1, 2004)
Sec. 801.415 Maximum acceptable level of ozone.
"(a) Ozone is a toxic gas with no known useful medical application in specific, adjunctive, or preventive therapy. In order for ozone to be effective as a germicide, it must be present in a concentration far greater than that which can be safely tolerated by man and animals.
"(b) Although undesirable physiological effects on the central nervous system, heart, and vision have been reported, the predominant physiological effect of ozone is primary irritation of the mucous membranes. Inhalation of ozone can cause sufficient irritation to the lungs to result in pulmonary edema. The onset of pulmonary edema is usually delayed for some hours after exposure; thus, symptomatic response is not a reliable warning of exposure to toxic concentrations of ozone. Since olfactory fatigue develops readily, the odor of ozone is not a reliable index of atmospheric ozone concentration.
"(c) A number of devices currently on the market generate ozone by design or as a byproduct. Since exposure to ozone above a certain concentration can be injurious to health, any such device will be considered adulterated and/or misbranded within the meaning of sections 501 and 502 of the act if it is used or intended for use under the
"(1) In such a manner that it generates ozone at a level in excess of 0.05 part per million by volume of air circulating through the device or causes an accumulation of ozone in excess of 0.05 part per million by volume of air (when measured under standard conditions at 25 [deg]C (77 [deg]F) and 760 millimeters of mercury) in the atmosphere of enclosed space intended to be occupied by people for extended periods of time, e.g., houses, apartments, hospitals, and offices. This applies to any
such device, whether portable or permanent or part of any system, which generates ozone by design or as an inadvertent or incidental product.
"(2) To generate ozone and release it into the atmosphere in
hospitals or other establishments occupied by the ill or infirm.
"(3) To generate ozone and release it into the atmosphere and does not indicate in its labeling the maximum acceptable concentration of ozone which may be generated (not to exceed 0.05 part per million by volume of air circulating through the device) as established herein and the smallest area in which such device can be used so as not to produce an ozone accumulation in excess of 0.05 part per million.
"(4) In any medical condition for which there is no proof of safety
"(5) To generate ozone at a level less than 0.05 part per million by
volume of air circulating through the device and it is labeled for use
as a germicide or deodorizer.
"(d) This section does not affect the present threshold limit value of 0.10 part per million (0.2 milligram per cubic meter) of ozone exposure for an 8-hour-day exposure of industrial workers as recommended
by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists.
"(e) The method and apparatus specified in 40 CFR part 50, or any other equally sensitive and accurate method, may be employed in measuring ozone pursuant to this section."
They will never reveal to you the fact that people who sell ozone generators by making fraudulent medical claims for them are subject to arrest, prosection, fines, and imprisonment.
They will never reveal to you fact that Alpine/EcoQuest has been hauled into court repeatedly and lost repeatedly.
They will never reveal to you the fact that both EcoQuest and its officers have been sued by the federal government (FTC) for making unsubstantiated claims and lost in state and federal courts.
And last, but not least, they will never ever reveal to you the fact that some people have actually been sent to prison for making false health claims for ozone generators!
They will never reveal to you these facts, they will only conceal, deny, or ignore them because they must. They must because the facts are embarassing and damning.
They must because the facts beautifully explode and completely destroy and demolish their false, misleading, and unsubstantiated claims which they repeat over and over again despite all the evidence to the contrary.
Fortunately, thanks to websites like Epinions the facts are being exposed and shared with other people who are interested in the facts not fantasies.
Another website called appropriately "Quackwatch" (www.quackwatch.org) examines many phoney health products and claims, and includes links about civil law suits and criminal prosecution involving claims for ozone and ozone generators.
The law suits and court orders against EcoQuest for making false claims are discussed at http://www.mlmwatch.org/04C/Alpine/alpine.html
Some of the legal records against Ecoquest are at:
This list can go on for a long time but you get the picture!
BUT DOESN'T OZONE HAVE LEGITIMATE APPLICATIONS?
Yes, it does. Ozone does have a legitimate place in industrial and commercial applications. Ozone is used in water purification. As Brian Hampson, PhD, Food Science and Nutrition Dept of California Polytechnic State University (San Luis Obispo) has pointed out:
"Since the early 1900s, ozone has been widely used for water treatment, including disinfection of municipal water supplies, swimming pools, spas, cooling towers, and sewage treatment plants. Recently, ozone has been used in food processing for sanitizing raw materials and irrigation waters, sanitizing packaging materials and storage facilities, and for sanitizing water for recycling."
Ozone generators in particular are legitimately used primarily for odor reduction by fire abatement contractors. But they do not remove dust or particles from the air.
However according to indoor air quality HVAC contractors because of the highly reactive nature of ozone, ozone generators do not belong in an occupied building and certainly not in your home.
AN INTRO TO THE SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE
Ozone is, of course, dealt with in scientific literature. Naturally the scientific literature regarding ozone is formidable and frequently intimidating. However, one of the most accessible introductions to the nature of ozone is offered by Professor John Harte of the University of California and his colleagues with whom he wrote a standard text on toxicology - "Toxics A to Z: A Guide to Everyday Pollution Hazards." Here is what Professor Harte and his colleagues have to say about ozone:
"Ozone, the major ingredient in smog, produces some of the worst air pollution conditions in the country. In the lower atmosphere where people breathe and plants grow OZONE CAUSES SERIOUS HEALTH EFFECTS and significant damage to forests and crops. (page 372)
"While ordinary oxygen contains two oxygen atoms (O2), ozone is a gas compound of three oxygen atoms (O3). It is called an OXIDANT AND CAUSES ITS TOXIC EFFECTS BECAUSE IT READILY STRIPS AWAY ELECTRONS FROM OTHER MOLECULES (OXIDATION), STARTING CHAIN REACTIONS AND DISRUPTING KEY STRUCTURES. (ibid)
"The symptoms of ozone (oxidant) exposure in polluted urban air include chest pain, coughing, wheezing, lung and nasal congestion, labored breathing, sore throat, nausea, faster breathing, and eye and nose irritation. THESE SYMPTOMS SHOW UP AT OZONE LEVELS ONLY SLIGHTLY HIGHER THAN THE NATIONAL STANDARD FOR HEALTH PROTECTION, a level that some areas reach regularly. Laboratory studies on human volunteers also show that typical ozone exposures combined with only intermittent exercise reduces the normal functioning of healthy lungs in both adults and children, preventing them from being able to inhale deeply.
"A major question is whether the respiratory effects due to exposure are reversible when exposure ceases or if they persist, causing permanent damage. One study of children exposed to ozone levels typically reached during summer months showed that lung changes persisted for many days after the ozone episode passed. In experimental animals, permanent lung structure damage is caused by ozone levels typical of smoggy conditions, if the exposure lasts for several seeks. Inflammation occurs, causing injury to the specialized cells lining the respiratory tract. Those cells are replaced by useless scar tissue, a process described as permature aging of the lungs. Other health effects reported include AN INCREASE IN ASTHMA ATTACKS, INCREASED RISK OF INFECTIONS BECAUSE OF DAMAGE TO CELLS LINING THE AIRWAYS, AND REDUCTIONS IN HEART AND CIRCULATORY FUNCTION AND AEROBIC FITNESS. Data from animal studies suggest further systemic damage is possible, including effects on the central nervous system, liver, blood, and endocrine system.
"The groups in the population at greater risk are those with preexisting respiratory diseases, including asthmatics, people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and 'responders' in the general population (people unusually sensitive to ozone). (page 373)
"Ozone is one of the air pollutants for which the EPA is required to periodically review and revise air quality standards. Since the last review in 1985, accumulated evidence indicates that exposure to ozone at [even] the current standard is likely to cause harm in at least some portions of the population. (page 374)
"National Ambient Air Quality Standards: primary (protective of human health), maximum daily 1-hour average: 0.12 ppm (0.235 mg/m3) secondary (protection of welfare): same as primary standard
OSHA limit in workplace air: 0.1 ppm (0.2 mg/m3)" (Page 374)
It is not for nothing that one of the leading experts on the subject, Mark F. Boeniger, of the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health [NIOSH], has categorically stated that "ozone is not a practical and effective means of improving indoor air quality, especially in light of its potentially serious risk to health" ["Use of Ozone Generating Devices to Improve Indoor Air Quality," published in the American Industrial Hygiene Association Journal (June 1995)].
The official position of NIOSH regarding ozone warns that "UNNECESSARY EXPOSURE TO ANY CONCENTRATION, HOWEVER SMALL, SHOULD BE AVOIDED."
No wonder that Consumer Reports stated simply in its October 1992 issue (page 661) regarding ozone generators: "Ozone generators have limited value in unoccupied spaces. But we don't think they belong where people breathe."
In short, it is no accident that the Ecoquest "Living Air Classic" has no Clean Air Delivery Rating. It has no CADR because it does not deliver clean air. It delivers polluted air. So perhaps it should be called an "air polluter" instead.
See for yourself the EPA's fact sheet on air cleaners at: www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/airclean.html
The American Lung Association also has an Air Cleaning Device fact sheet at: www.lungusa.org/air/air00_aircleaners.html"
CAN YOU RECOMMEND THE "LIVING AIR CLASSIC" TO ANYONE?
Yes, I can and do recommend it.
I recommend it for those people who like the chlorine like smell of ozone in their nostrils.
I recommend it to those who want to pump ozone into their indoor air because they almost religiously "believe" in ozone, all scientific facts to the contrary be damned.
I especially recommend it to those who like the symptoms caused by exposure to elevated levels of ozone in indoor air.
And, of course, I can heartily recommend it to the many people who like spending their money on overpriced, unproven, and/or useless items because it makes them happier to do so.
So if you fit into one of these categories of people who prefer the smell, feel, "belief in," and/or cost of producing and breathing ozone indoors then by all means get one!
But if you do not, then I can not recommend the "Living Air Classic."
All kidding aside, if you want to get a device which actually cleans the air as opposed to polluting it then you would be well advised to buy one which has been proven to work effectively and safely not one that has not!
SO IF NOT THE "LIVING AIR CLASSIC" THEN WHAT?
First of all, do you even need an indoor air cleaner?
Indoor Air Quality experts recommend source control before you do anything. That is eliminating or controlling the sources of pollution first.
Since most indoor air quality problems are due to an inadequate supply of fresh outside air, IAQ experts recommend adequate ventilation with outside air to dilute and/or exhaust pollutants. In other words, OPEN THE WINDOW! If not opening the window then getting an air exchanger for "tight" houses in the winter.
If all that fails then get an air cleaner but for goodness sake get one that works safely and efficiently not one that doesn't!
DO YOU RECOMMEND ANY AIR CLEANING DEVICE IN PARTICULAR?
NO. No, because each situation is different. What I can tell you is that the most vague sounding expression that professional HVAC contractors will tell their customers is also the most truthful.
The best answer to the question "what is the best" is IT DEPENDS. It depends on a whole lot of circumstances and conditions.
Consider the answer to the question "What is the best automobile?" Of course there is no single answer because there are different vehicles which are good for different things and different people and their circumstances (not to mention budget).
So you have to make your selection carefully.
ARE THERE RELIABLE AND PROVEN AIR CLEANING DEVICES ON THE MARKET?
Yes. There are many reliable air cleaning devices which actually work safely and effectively and are manufactured by reputable companies like Austin, Friedrich, Honeywell, Hunter, Holmes, IQAir, and Whirlpool - just to name a few.
HOW DO I KNOW WHICH ONES ARE RIGHT FOR ME?
You have to do research first but you have alread starting doing that so congratulations for having the brains and inclination to do so.
First of all you are already in the right place - Epinions - to begin with.
Next read the introductions provided by:
the EPA - http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/residair.html
the American Lung Association -http://www.lungusa.org/site/apps/s/content.asp?c=dvLUK9O0E&b=34706&ct=67133
the California Air Resources Board -
While you are at at at I suppose you can read http://www.cal-iaq.org/o3_fact.htm just to hammer the point of this review one more time.
Next consult the AHAM (www.aham.org) which provides plenty of information on reliable and safe air cleaners.
The AHAM-certified Clean Air Delivery Rate website (www.cadr.org) lists certified air cleaners and their reputable manufacturers.
The latest list is at: www.cadr.org/consumer/directory.pdf
Naturally, Consumer Reports periodically does reviews of air cleaning devices. So check them out too.
AllergyBuyersClub, founded by a real life allergy sufferer, also compares air cleaners on their website at http://www.allergybuyersclub.com/compare-air.html
Their Q&A style introduction to the subject inludes this thinly veiled reference to EcoQuest:
"My pet hate is a multilevel marketing company who is forbidden by the federal government to make any air cleaning claims for their ozone/negative ionizer. This does not prevent thousands of well meaning multilevel marketing reps from making absurd claims for this "air cleaner" which can be downright harmful to asthmatic and allergic individuals. When the medical products testing department of the Canadian government tested this $699 "air cleaner", they tested the fan, the ionizer and the ozone separately, and guess what came out as the most effective part of the machine for removing smoke particles? The $30 fan, which drove the smoke particles to the walls."
Consumer Search compiles reviews of reviews (sic) of air cleaners at http://www.consumersearch.com/www/house_and_home/air_purifiers/reviews.html
Not surprisingly, no consumer testing organizations or government agencies or professional groups recommend EcoQuest's "air purifiers," not one. On the contrary, to the extent that they even mention ozone it is with the strongest recommendation to avoid it.
Finally, based on my own experience and research my simple advice is to AVOID THE "LIVING AIR CLASSIC" and all similar ozone generating devices.
BUT YOU DO NOT NEED TO TAKE MY WORD ON THIS DEVICE! DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH regarding the extensive and detailed criticism and condemnation of the use of ozone for indoor air quality problems, ozone generators, and the companies that manufacture and market them to an unsuspecting public, especially EcoQuest.
STOP READING HERE UNLESS YOU WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE FRAUD AND QUACKERY OF OZONE, OZONE GENERATORS, AND ALPINE/ECOQUEST
*Note: What follows is just a very small compilation of numerous scientific, technical, and legal articles and documents regarding ozone and EcoQuest's "air purifiers." I apologize in advance for any missing quotation marks.*
The history of American business has seen the marketing of many worthless and harmful products but perhaps none is more ubiquitous than the marketing of ozone generators.
According to numerous scientific and technical sources, ozone generators sold to the general public are ineffective, potentially dangerous, and deceptively marketed.
This is especially true of ozone generators manufactured by Alpine and marketed by EcoQuest. That is why they and the products they manufacture and sell have come under fire for years.
Since at least 1991, various consumer organizations, state government entities, federal agencies, and state and federal courts have warned that Alpine/EcoQuest devices are ineffective, potentially dangerous, and deceptively marketed.
Often the vendors of devices which intentionally generate ozone, like Alpine and EcoQuest, make statements and distribute material that lead the public to believe that these devices are always safe and effective in controlling indoor air pollution.
However, for almost half a century, health professionals have refuted these claims. As a result numerous federal and state agencies have advised against using "air purifiers" of the sort manufactured and marketed by Alpine/Ecoquest.
It is no accident that Consumers Union in its magazine, Consumer Reports, stated in its March 1996 issue (page 59) that we judged cleaners from Alpine Air Products and Quantum Electronics [an unrelated company] Not Acceptable because those products generated unsafe levels of ozone.
The government of Canada has issued a warning to the public against purchasing and using devices that are designed to intentionally generate ozone. The Canadian government specifically singled out models made and marketed by Alpine and EcoQuest International for its health warning.
The California Department of Health Services advises the public not to use "air purifiers" that are specifically designed to generate ozone indoors. These ozone generators are sometimes marketed as emitting "trivalent" oxygen, "activated" oxygen, "allotropic" oxygen, "saturated" oxygen, energized oxygen, "superoxygen," supercharged air, a plasma of purifying molecules, pure air, fresh air, "living air", or "mountain-fresh air." These devices are also sometimes combined with an ion generator.
The Indoor Air Quality Section of the Department of Health Services of California has stated that independent studies have shown that ozone generators do not effectively destroy microbes, remove odor sources, or reduce indoor pollutants enough to provide any health benefits. More alarming, these devices can generate excessive levels of ozone and may contribute to eye and nose irritation or other respiratory health problems for users.
In answer to the question Are Ozone Generators Effective in Controlling Indoor Air Pollution? the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has categorically stated that Available scientific evidence shows that at concentrations that do not exceed public health standards, ozone has little potential to remove indoor air contaminants.
Moreover, they stated that There is evidence to show that at concentrations that do not exceed public health standards, ozone is not effective at removing many odor-causing chemicals and that If used at concentrations that do not exceed public health standards, ozone applied to indoor air does not effectively remove viruses, bacteria, mold, or other biological pollutants.
In the EPAs fact sheet Ozone Generators Sold as Air Cleaners, the EPA stated categorically that no agency of the federal government has approved these devices for use in occupied spaces. When inhaled, ozone can damage the lungs.
Health professional strongly advise against using ozone generators to clean air in a space occupied by people. The ozone the products produce is a powerful oxidant and damages lung tissue.
Consumer Search, an online research site, says that Probably the most insidious market buzz about air cleaners is the hype about ionizers and ozone generators. Ionizers don't alleviate allergy symptoms, and they make a mess in your home by producing charged particles that cling to everything in sight
Far worse, experts say ozone generators are dangerous to human health. Ozone is a toxic gas that damages lung tissue and can pose problems for those with allergies, asthma or other respiratory problems.
An article in Consumers' Research Magazine (July 1998) reports that ozone does not provide any health benefit, and the ozone produced by ionizers can exceed standards published by the FDA. Experts agree: Ionizers and ozone generators are no-nos.
Last, but not least, the American Lung Association has stated that "Ozone is a potent lung irritant and exposure to elevated levels is a contributor to the exacerbation of lung disease. It is especially dangerous for persons with asthma or other chronic lung disease, children and the elderly." Therefore, the ALA has flatly stated that ozone generators should not be used.
Pro-ozone generator statements are invariably made by those who manufacture and/or sell them or people who are paid by those who manufacture and/or sell them. The manufacturers and salesmen of these devices also typically point to positive testimonials.
Testimonials are fine but of no scientific value. Besides, there are negative testimonials as well but, of course, the people who make and sell these devices have no interest in relating them to the public.
The only thing that really matters is a peer-reviewed scientific study and all of those that have been done on ozone generators are unequivocally and universally negative.
Why do so many scientists condemn devices which intentionally generate ozone like those of Alpine/Ecoquest?
The answer is simple: Ozone is a toxic gas and harmful air pollutant.
Ozone is the main ingredient of ground-level smog.
Breathing ozone can be harmful, especially for children, the elderly, and people with asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, or other respiratory diseases.
Ozone also irritates the eyes, nose, and throat. Long-term exposure to ozone, even low levels of ozone, may permanently reduce a person's breathing ability.
Breathing ozone has no known beneficial health effects.
Breathing ozone has NEVER been proven scientifically to have any beneficial health effects.
Ozone is a dangerous gas that should not be inhaled by humans or any other mammal.
In fact, at low levels ozone does not clean the air. Low levels of ozone have no known or proven beneficial effects.
Independent studies by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Consumers Union, and others have shown that these devices do not effectively destroy microbes, remove odor sources, or reduce indoor pollutants enough to provide any health benefits.
Ozone masks the odor of other indoor pollutants by deadening the sense of smell. It also reacts with certain indoor pollutants to produce toxic byproducts, such as formaldehyde. In other words, it reacts badly with pollutants it is supposed to remove and neutralize and produces other pollutants in the process!
Ozone is used effectively in water to destroy microbes, but ozone in air must reach extremely hazardous levels (50-100 times the outdoor air quality standards) to effectively kill microbes.
As a matter of record, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) limits ozone exposure in industrial settings to 100 parts per billion (ppb) over an eight-hour day, six days per week. The FDA has set a limit of 50 ppb.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has concluded: Available scientific evidence shows that, at concentrations that do not exceed public health standards, ozone is generally ineffective in controlling indoor air pollution. The concentration of ozone would have to greatly exceed health standards to be effective in removing most indoor air contaminants.
Interestingly, buried in Alpines/Ecoquests manual for their Fresh Air unit is a caution statement that the so-called sanitizer feature of their unit should be operated in UNOCCUPIED areas only (Emphasis added).
In effect, they admit that their unit produces a dangerous substance and that it is capable of producing high concentrations of this substance, i.e. ozone.
A BASIC TIMELINE OF ALPINE/LIVING AIR/ECOQUEST INTERNATIONAL
To more fully understand the nature of Alpine and EcoQuest it is necessary to establish a basic timeline of events regarding them and their devices.
Alpine began life as Alpine Air Products in Minnesota. It was founded by one William J. Converse in 1986. Converse is purportedly the inventor of an ion and ozone indoor air purifier. The company he founded manufactured his invention.
In 1990, a recall was issued for one of Alpines early models, the Model 150 Electronic Air Purifier, because it was found to produce levels of ozone that exceeded federal guidelines.
On April 16, 1991, the FDA issued an Enforcement Report against the Model 150 because [t]he device may generate ozone in excess of the 0.5 limit established in 21 CFR 80.1415 for devices which generate ozone by design or as a by-product. (See FDA Enforcement Report dated 4/17/91)
In 1991, in a civil action, a Minnesota state court had found Alpine Air Products and its president had improperly claimed that ozone (a) was safe and necessary indoors, (b) had positive health benefits, and (c) had posed no risk to people with respiratory problems, and (d) that Alpine air cleaners emitted only low and harmless levels of ozone. It is also no coincidence that the Minnesota Department of Health has stated: Do not use ozone generators that are sold as indoor air cleaners.
In 1992, Consumers Union began examining air cleaners for an upcoming report in their magazine, Consumer Reports. They tested an Alpine 150. Their test found that the Alpine 150 produced 90 to 180 ppb of ozone with its regular plate and 625 ppb with its power plate. Both of these measurements were in excess of federal guidelines.
On September 15, 1992, the Minnesota Court of Appeals in Humphrey v. Alpine Air Products, Inc. ruled that the company, Alpine Air Products and its president, William Converse, "violated Minnesota common fraud laws by falsely representing the health benefits of its product." The appeals court also upheld a lower court decision that Alpine must refund money to purchasers who ask for it.
It further ordered Alpine Air Products and Converse to pay $70,000 in civil penalties and $104,105 in attorneys fees. The appeals court ruling upheld the lower court finding that Alpine Air Products had engaged in false, deceptive and misleading claims about its products and that it had engaged in vertical price-fixing. A request for a new trial was turned down.
After the Minnesota ruling, Consumers Union did a review of more air cleaners. In its October 1992 issue (page 661), they rated the Alpine 150 NOT ACCEPTABLE. Consumer Reports also reported that [l]ast fall a Minnesota state court found Alpine Air Products and its president [William Converse] guilty of violating consumer fraud laws for claiming that ozone is safe and necessary indoors, has positive health benefits, poses no risk to people with respiratory problems, and that Alpine air cleaners emit only low and harmless levels of ozone.
They also described how they came to review another model, the XL15. Interestingly, one of the brochures typically distributed by EcoQuest's distributors refers to "a Living Air XL15 (Classic) unit."
Consumers Union reported that The Alpine representative steered us toward the Living Air XL15, distributed by a company that uses the same address and phone number as Alpine Air Products (what a coincidence).
Consumers Union found the Living Air XL15 also wanting and concluded that Ozone generators have limited value in unoccupied spaces. But we don't think they belong where people breathe (Emphasis added).
Also in 1992, an article by Fred Brown, appeared in the October 1992 issue of Indoor Air Review, entitled Ozone Purifier Maker Found Guilty of Misleading Advertising, Minnesota Fines Alpine Air Products, to Pursue Case.
Because of the 1992 ruling against them and the consequent bad publicity from Consumers Union and others, Alpine Air Products was dissolved and the technology of their products was sold to Alpine Industries.
Alpine moved to Greeneville, Tennessee. It had as its new president - William Converse (what a coincidence).
After repeatedly making false claims for their devices, the Federal Trade Commission took action against Alpine.
In June 1995, the FTC announced a law-enforcement action against Alpine; the Living Air Corporation, and Converse, an officer of both firms.
In the case, the FTC challenged claims that the Living Air Model XL15, which sold for about $600, cleans the air of various indoor air pollutants and prevents or relieves allergies, asthma and other conditions.
The FTC charged that Alpine and Living Air made unsubstantiated representations.
The two companies and Converse avoided trial by settling the FTC charges and agreeing to be bound by a consent agreement (See FTC release of June 9, 1995) in which the companies and their president, William J. Converse, agreed not to make unsubstantiated claims that:
Their products eliminate or clear specified chemicals, gasses, mold, mildew, bacteria and viruses, or dust from the environment.
The use of ozone is more effective than air cleaners using filters in cleaning or purifying indoor air.
The products do not create harmful by-products.
The products prevent or provide relief from allergies, asthma, and other specified conditions
In effect, Alpine reached an agreement with the FTC in which they agreed to clean up their act. Violations of FTC consent agreements can trigger penalties of up to $11,000 per day per violation. (In 1995, it was $10,000 per day.)
In March 1996, Consumer Reports reiterated that we judged cleaners from Alpine Air Products NOT ACCEPTABLE because those products generated UNSAFE LEVELS OF OZONE (Emphasis added).
In spite of the fact that their models 150 and XL15 had been exposed by Consumer Reports and others, Alpine came up with another model the Living Air Model 880. The brochure for it included the following: "ARE YOU LIVING IN A SICK HOUSE? And is it making you sick too? Many otherwise unexplained physical ailments can probably be traced to dust, various chemicals, bacteria and a host of other airborne pollutants trapped inside with you -- inside where you spend 90% of your time. . . . Revitalize your indoor air at home with the power of a Living Air Model 880. The 880 replicates nature by emitting ozone and negative ions into the air. This effect, the same one created by a thunderstorm or waterfall, freshens otherwise stale indoor air by oxidizing airborne pollutants and knocking down floating particulate. . . ."
These kind of claims brought further action from the Federal Trade Commission.
Through these and other statements, the FTC asserted, Alpine and Converse represented that their air cleaning products effectively eliminate or clean pollutants from indoor air, that the use of ozone is more effective in cleaning or purifying indoor air than other cleaning methods, and that their air cleaning products prevent or provide relief from medical or health-related conditions.
The defendants did not have competent and reliable evidence to back up these claims, the FTC charged.
Incredibly, Alpine had the chutzpah to file suit in a Tennessee federal district court challenging the FTCs investigation and asked the court to declare that the company was in compliance with the 1995 order!
On November 10, 1997, the Commission filed a motion asking the court to dismiss Alpine's lawsuit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (Alpines lawsuit was subsequently dismissed on November 20, 1998).
In December 1997, at the FTC's request, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a federal court suit charging that Alpine had continued to make claims for which it lacked competent scientific evidence.
The complaint was filed on December 30, 1997, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, in Greeneville.
On January 5, 1998, the FTC announced that The Federal Trade Commission has filed suit in federal district court alleging that Alpine Industries, Inc., a company based in Tennessee and Minnesota, has violated a 1995 Commission order by continuing to claim, without adequate substantiation, that its ozone-generating indoor "air cleaner" devices remove numerous pollutants, do so better than other methods, and prevent or relieve medical or health related conditions.
"The FTC is seeking a court order against the firm and its president, William J. Converse, and civil penalties up to $11,000 per order violation. Alpine and Mr. Converse are bound by the 1995 order, which requires competent and reliable scientific evidence to back up such claims.
The case was tried in 1999.
The trial began on September 28, 1999.
The FTC used expert witnesses and scientific test results against Alpine.
During closing arguments, the jury was told by a government attorney that Alpine relied on '"junk science" to support its claims, while lawyers for both Alpine and
Converse said that Alpine relied on valid science.
It was up to the jury to decide who was correct.
On November the 1st 2000, the jury issued a verdict. Their verdict favored the FTC.
Specifically, the jury found that the Alpine Industries and William Converse: made a significant number of representations for which they did not have competent and scientific evidence in violation of the administrative consent order.
In response to the devastating jury verdict, Alpine and Converse issued a release on November 2nd stating that:
The jury was not judging the effectiveness of Alpine's products only the depth of Alpine's scientific evidence. This is an important distinction. A more accurate accounting of the verdict is that the jury agreed with the government's contention that Alpine did not have sufficient, reliable scientific evidence to support these claims. Once the new research is complete, we hope to have substantiation on additional product benefits. Until then, we encourage our customers to use the three-day product trial period to determine what personal benefits they might receive (Emphasis added).
Thus Alpine admitted that the jury agreed with the FTC that Alpine did not have sufficient, reliable scientific evidence to support their claims."
In any event, on January 12, 2000, the judge in the case, Judge Inman, ordered that:
"Defendants shall make no claims or representations in any form or by any means, express or implied, that any Alpine product can eliminate, remove, clear or clean from indoor air any quantity of any pollutant, contaminant, microorganism (including bacteria, viruses, molds and mildew), chemical or particulate, with the exception of 'tobacco
"Nor shall defendants make any claim or representation in any form or by any means, express or implied, that Alpine's products prevent or provide relief from any health or medical condition of any kind.
"Defendants shall make no claims or representations in any form or by any means, express or implied, that the sensor installed on any of its (Alpine's) air cleaning machines is capable of controlling the ambient level of ozone in indoor air.
"The defendants will immediately mail copies of this order to Alpine Industries Inc.'s independent dealers, and all officers, agents and employees of Alpine Industries Inc., advising them that they are to make no representation or claim herein proscribed until further notice. (See United States of America v. Alpine Industries, Inc. and William J. Converse).
In effect, the judge ordered Alpine Industries to stop making unsupported claims for their ozone generating air purifiers.
On the same day that Judge Inmans order was issued against them (January 12, 2000), Alpine Industries spun off its marketing operations to EcoQuest International, a new corporation.
Alpine Industries president and chief executive officer was still William J. Converse. Michael Jackson, Alpine's vice president in charge of marketing, became the first president of EcoQuest International (what a coincidence). Jackson had been Converses partner in Alpine since 1994.
Between the two of them, Converse and Jackson created an MLM (multi-level marketing) scheme. In effect, EcoQuest assumed ownership of Alpines network of dealers.
Apparently, Alpine and Converse continued to make unsupported claims for its products because on April 11, 2000 the FTC and U.S. Department of Justice filed a motion asking a federal court to hold Alpine, Converse, Jackson, and EcoQuest in civil contempt.
The government's motion alleged that Alpine and Converse had violated the January 2000 order by making prohibited claims about their ozone generators and that Jackson and EcoQuest, although not specifically named in the order, were bound by its terms.
The court agreed.
On April 5, 2001 Alpine Industries was fined 1.49 million dollars by Judge Inman.
His $1.49 million penalty represents $1,000 per day for 1,490 days of "continuing failure to obey" the 1995 order against making unsubstantiated claims. In summary, the judgment was that:
1) Alpine Industries was fined $1.49 million.
2) They were ordered not to make any claim that their products "can eliminate, remove, clear or clean from indoor air any pollutant, contaminant, microorganism (including bacteria, viruses, molds and mildew), chemical or particulate...." The judgment excepts "visible tobacco smoke" or "some odors" (without specifying what odor).
3) They shall "make no claims or representations in any form or by any means, expressly or impliedly, that Alpine's products prevent or provide, or may prevent or provide, relief from any health or medical conditions of any kind."
4) The judgment does allow Alpine Industries to come back to court if they have scientific proof their products work.
Incredibly, and obviously with great chutzpah, Alpines reaction to this very damaging judgment against them was to claim that they had won a victory in our battle of the experts.
They trumpeted that the United States District Court in Greeneville has established a method for Alpine Industries to present scientific evidence in support of its air purification appliances to the Federal Trade Commission.
However, the judge merely said that (a) the FTC would have to respond in timely fashion to any new evidence presented to them by Converse and Alpine; and (b) if the agency rejected the evidence, Alpine could still appeal to the court. The standard necessary for modifying the injunction was still "competent and reliable scientific evidence."
By the fall of 2003, Converse and Alpine had not presented any competent and reliable scientific evidence so on September 26th 2003, a per curiam opinion was issued by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirming the district courts decision for final judgment AGAINST the defendants.
On December 4, 2003, the court designated the opinion as one recommended for full-text publication.
Furthermore, the case against Ecoquest "also brought to light accounting irregularities and back taxes owed in Minnesota and Tennessee." (Source: http://www.knoxnews.com/kns/cda/article_print/0,1983,KNS_376_3524201_ARTICLE-DETAIL-PRINT,00.html)
In the meantime, Alpine and EcoQuest continue to crank out Living Air, Fresh Air by EcoQuest, etc. units which are aggressively and shamelessly marketed to an unsuspecting, naive, and uniformed public.
CONTINUING FALSE CLAIMS FOR ECOQUEST OZONE MACHINES
Incredibly, their distributors continue to make exaggerated and unbstantiated claims for Alpine/EcoQuest products - claims which Alpine and EcoQuest themselves are forbidden by order of a federal court to make.
Their own response to the verdict is to continue to market their devices while making legally required disclaimers.
For example, in reference to the device called Living Air Breeze they admit that have no competent reliable scientific substantiation.
In reference to the testing for the EcoTech process of the Living Air Breeze they admit that: "This testing is not final or conclusive, therefore the results do not constitute competent reliable scientific substantiation.
In one of its promotional brochures entitled Does Living Air Work, they again admit that Although final testing is not fully conclusive, preliminary tests are more than promising.
For their new flagship product, Fresh Air by EcoQuest, they cite results on the packaging box of tests made by an unnamed organization. Why? What do they have to hide?
Curiously, these results for EcoTech are exactly the same as those presented for the Living Air Breeze which they admit do not constitute competent reliable scientific substantiation.
Despite this, EcoQuests distributors continue to make exaggerated and unproven claims and disseminate materials that violate the January 2000 court order.
However the pattern and practice of marketing products without competent reliable scientific substantiation is not new with them. They have been doing it for quite a while.
According to Mr. John Gyorki of Health and Energy Co, a testing and consulting firm, The use of ozone to purify indoor air has been a topic of controversy in the indoor air quality industry for 20 years, dividing supporters and critics over the lack of scientific research to prove the effectiveness of ozone generators. For the manufacturers of ozone generators, the criticism of the device's effectiveness is unwarranted.
"Bill Converse, president of Alpine Industries in Eveleth, Minnesota, said that claims of ozone generators being dangerous are made by individuals who don't understand how the generators work. 'When someone is talking about ozone and saying it is bad, what they are basing their opinion on is dosage. If you're talking about a high ozone concentration, then of course ozone is bad, but what people forget about is that ozone is common in low concentrations in the outdoor environment.'
"Converse said Alpine has not conducted any scientific research to gauge the effectiveness of its generators and has no plans to do research in the near future, because consumer use under real-world environmental conditions is the best test for ozone generators."
The reference to Minnesota clearly indicates that Converse held that view when Alpine was still located in Minnesota (prior to 1992).
There is good reason to believe that Converse still holds the view that "consumer use under real-world environmental conditions is the best test for ozone generators."
As he said in response to the court decision of January 2001, Once the new research is complete, we hope to have substantiation on additional product benefits. Until then, we encourage our customers to use the three-day product trial period to determine what personal benefits they might receive.
But why only th