Bipolar Ionization — Why Continuous IAQ Monitoring is an Essential Part of “Additive” Air Cleaning

In the era of COVID-19, bipolar ionization—also known as needlepoint bipolar ionization—has experienced a surge in popularity. Air purifying and air cleaning devices are in high demand as building owners across nearly every industry seek to ensure safe and healthy spaces for their occupants.

According to the EPA, bipolar ionization can be used in HVAC systems or portable air cleaners to generate positively and negatively charged particles. The technology uses electricity to charge atoms from Oxygen molecules in the surrounding air. Attracted to one another, the negatively and positively charged atoms cluster around and neutralize microparticles like allergens, bacteria, mold, and viruses. The charged atoms also cluster around expelled breath droplets and dust particles, making them big enough for air filters to catch.

Sounds great, right? A technology that either neutralizes a virus on contact, or works to filter it out of the air.

Industries across the country have embraced bipolar ionization, with Hospitals like Johns Hopkins, Children’s Hospital Boston and the University of Maryland Medical Center, airport terminals at LaGuardia, O’Hare, LAX, and San Francisco International Airport, and Google’s headquarters in Chicago and San Jose employing the technology in their indoor air quality strategy.

While recent advances in bipolar ionization have made these products widely available, the science around the efficacy of this technology is still in its infancy. There is very little peer-reviewed research available to back up the claims of bipolar ionization’s most enthusiastic proponents, the EPA noting that “bipolar ionization has the potential to generate ozone and other potentially harmful by-products indoors.”

Still, a technology with the potential to neutralize viruses like COVID-19 is worth exploring. Noting that there are many different kinds of air cleaning technologies, the EPA recommends using bipolar ionization devices that meet the UL 2998 standard certification (Environmental Claim Validation Procedure (ECVP) for Zero Ozone Emissions from Air Cleaners).

Having vetted technology matters, but the most effective way to ensure that your bipolar ionization device is working as advertised is to continuously monitor air quality.

AntrumX allows building managers to set a target, control to the target, and monitor the results. Monitoring particulate matter and TVOCs before and after the installation of a bipolar ionization device allows building managers to verify that the intended results are the actual results.

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