Policy: Air Purifiers, Humidifiers, Dehumidifiers and Odor Enhancers

The Department of University Safety and Assurances does not advocate the use of personal air purifiers such as ozone generation units, HEPA filtered particulate filters, humidifiers or odor enhancers at UWM.

  • Personal Air Purifiers:

    • Ozone Generators: Ozone is a respiratory tract irritant, and in our opinion, the hazards of these devices far outweigh any air purifying benefits. Tests performed by another midwest university EHS department revealed ozone generators are capable of putting out ozone at levels much higher than occupational hygienic standards. The use of ozone generators at UWM is prohibited without prior authorization.

    • HEPA Filtration Units: These units are capable of removing very small particulate matter from air. HEPA filtration is commonly used on campus for asbestos abatement and for removal of radionuclides from exhaust effluent. However, personal air filtration units have limited effectiveness, particularly in buildings served by a centralized supply/return HVAC system. Therefore, University Safety and Assurances will not recommend or advocate the use of these devices at UWM.
  • Humidifiers:

    Low relative humidity inside buildings generally occurs during the winter months. Although low relative humidity contributes to respiratory tract and mucous membrane dryness and irritation, the use of humidifiers is strongly discouraged, and tank humidifiers are prohibited. Excess moisture can encourage the growth of biological organisms. These organisms include dust mites, which are microscopic animals that produce materials causing allergic reactions from household dust, and molds.

    Recent studies by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) have shown that ultrasonic and impeller (or "cool mist") humidifiers can disperse materials, such as microorganisms and minerals, from their water tanks into indoor air. The young, the elderly, and those people with lung diseases or respiratory allergies may be particularly susceptible to certain types of airborne pollutants.

  • Dehumidifiers:

    Dehumidifiers, which lower moisture levels, may be justifiable under certain circumstances.
  • Odor Enhancers:

    The use of incense or candles at UWM is prohibited. The use of open flame in University Buildings is strictly prohibited under UW-System Policy Chapter 18-Conduct on University Lands.

Updated November 19, 2007