EcoQuest air cleaners use a three pronged approach to purification – ultraviolet radiation, ionization, and photo catalytic oxidation. UV rays are generated by a lamp in the machine and mimic the sun’s sterilization ability. Ionization is created by electrostatic filters which are electrically charged metal plates with a space between them for air to pass through. Charged (ionized) dust particles then cling to nearby surfaces rather than staying airborne effectively removing them from your breathing environment.
Photo catalytic oxidation is a somewhat newer technology and a little harder to explain. Oxides (like hydrogen peroxide and ozone) are useful cleaning agents since they kill germs fast. In this equipment various oxides are created by activating a rare-metal coated mesh with the UVX light. Bacteria, mold spores, and viruses that are pulled through the cleaning system are all exposed to the cleansers produced in this catalyzing process. According to the manufacturer these super-oxide ions keep on working after they have left the machine and continue to kill germs on contact.
Some consumers don’t care for the faint smell produced by ionizing machines but many people don’t notice an odor or become used to it quickly. The ozone created by this machine’s operation is well below minimum safe levels so users shouldn’t experience ill effects from exposure to it. Ionization of airborne particles will precipitate airborne dust onto your furniture and other surfaces so be prepared to whip out your cleaning rag if you use such a device on a regular basis.
This EcoQuest technology is advertised as being “the same type used in space by NASA”. Of course, you could say the same thing about Tang. However, the number of organizations using these units is impressive and likely to continue growing. The U.S. Government and the Red Cross are on the list of customers.
What Do The Tests Show?
Interestingly, the laboratory testing performed at Kansas State University so far appears to have focused on the reduction of microbes on surfaces rather than particles in the air. The results using RCI ActivePure technology were excellent and achieved a reduction in live contaminant populations on stainless steel test surfaces of over 90% after a 24 hour treatment period.
Some of the more famous casualties in this experiment were bacteria like Strep, E. coli and anthrax as well as mold spores and the avian influenza virus H5N8. It will be interesting to see if additional testing later this year will show changes in actual air quality since the company is specifically targeting the consumer market as an alternative to HEPA filter systems.
EcoQuest is apparently being careful not to make prohibited claims since a federal court order in 2000. If you visit LaboratoryTalk you can read the press release and view the fine print. The FDA hasn’t evaluated any test results and review can be a lengthy process so you may need to do your own research before investing in one of these machines. The KSU study is certainly a good start so stay tuned for more exciting developments.