Bipolar Ionization & COVID-19: Our Experts Weigh In

Bipolar Ionization has been claimed to potentially mitigate, or reduce, the spread of bacteria and viruses throughout a space. Bipolar Ionization works by introducing positive and negative ions into the air. The ionization causes production of clusters of hydroxyl (OH) radicals, which are formed on the surface of microbes, removing hydrogen from the microbes’ cell walls, thereby inactivating potentially infectious particles. If not properly specified and installed, it may cause negative health effects.

To better understand this technology, we reviewed the most frequently asked questions with our COVID-19 Task Force; which includes Dr. William Bahnfleth, Dr. Michael Kaiser and engineers from Tetra Tech’s High Performance Buildings Group. Dr. Bahnfleth of Penn State University is the Chair of the ASHRAE COVID Taskforce. Dr. Kaiser has spent the majority of his career at the intersection of infectious disease and public health.


Do you have any experience with in-space installations (wall-mounted, etc.) or portable units that rely on passive diffusion of produced ions? Akin to a portable air filtering purifier?

DR. BAHNFLETH: There are/have been many portable ion generators. Most are consumer products of questionable quality control and performance. There may be better offerings from manufacturers who also do air handling unit installations.

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