Air Quality Management

Planning for Air Quality Management is an important step when setting up an indoor grow space, just like it is for your home. The number one thing to do in all indoor gardens is make sure you have consistent air movement and exhaust/replenish the air regularly. For a small 4 foot by 8 foot grow space this would usually consist of (1) 12 inch oscillating fan and (2) 6 inch duct fans, one for exhaust and the other to replenish the space with fresh air. All 3 fans should optimally run 24/7.

There are some other things that you can do in a grow room to insure a problem free indoor garden, however while they can be good for the garden, they can be bad for you and your pets. We Are talking about Air Purifiers/Ionizers and Ozone Generators. These can be utilized if your grow space isn’t inside your home or in commercial applications where a fungus can wipe out the entire garden. So what do these devices do exactly?

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Air Purifiers/Ionizers

Air purifiers are an excellent tool for eliminating indoor odors and reducing allergens like airborne fungus spores. Simply put, an air filter captures pollutants and expels clean air, much like a tree absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen. Carbon pre-filters capture hair and some odors; volatile organic compound (VOC) filters trap odors and airborne pathogens like fungal spores; and HEPA filters reduce indoor allergens such as dust and pollen.

Some air purifiers use ionizers, but you may not know what this technology actually does. We do not want to scare you away from air purifiers that use ionizers, but we do want you to understand the risks and be careful when you use them.

Basically, oxygen is a neutral element that loves to change its charge. An ionizer uses an electromagnetic charge to add or remove electrons from oxygen atoms, making the oxygen particles either positively or negatively charged as they leave the ionizer. Ionized particles are far more common in the upper atmosphere, and the air we breathe tends to combine oxygen molecules with several other elements. In theory, after the oxygen passes through the air filter, it detaches from other particles and looks for a new particle to bond with. The ionizer gives the outgoing air an electromagnetic charge so that it will bond with other particles more easily. Then, when the charged ion passes through the air filter a second time, it is easier to capture.

The potential danger with this is that humans don’t usually breathe ionized air, and many studies show that electromagnetically charged particles can damage lungs. Also, if an oxygen molecule bonds with two others, it becomes O3, or ozone. Ozone can irritate airways and exacerbate breathing-related problems.

The best way to use an ionizer is with an operation scheduler or timer. This way, you can run your air purifier and ionizer while you are out of the house. Then, the charged particles will bond with other compounds without damaging your lungs. However, if you are sensitive to ozone, you should avoid ionizers entirely.

Ozone Generators

Ozone generators by design produce the toxic gas ozone and are sold as air cleaners for commercial and residential applications. Specifically, they deodorize, disinfect, kill or remove dangerous or irritating airborne particles in indoor environments.

Ozone generators make ozone by breaking apart oxygen molecules. Unfortunately, the same chemical properties that allow ozone to alter organic material in household air also give it the ability to react with organic material inside the human body. Even low levels of ozone exposure can cause the following conditions:

  • coughing, chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, and throat irritation;
  • worsened chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma;
  • increased risk of developing bronchitis or pneumonia; and
  • compromised ability of the body to fight respiratory infections.

People’s susceptibility to ozone varies widely. An ozone generator should never be operated in occupied spaces, and the area should be adequately vented before people or animals are allowed to re-enter.

Toxic Ozone levels for Plants

Ozone generators can damage plants in indoor environments as well. High levels of ozone will inhibit the ability of plants to open the stomata (microscopic pores on plant foliage) and breathe. Specifically, ozone can cause the following conditions in plants:

  • chlorosis, a condition in which the plant cannot produce sufficient chlorophyll to manufacture carbohydrates;
  • necrosis, or the premature death of living cells, which may lead to the death of the plant as a whole;
  • flecks or small light tan irregular spots;
  • stipples, which are small, darkly pigmented areas; and
  • reddening.
plant stomata
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