Most people have heard of Ozone, and some may have asked questions such as, "Will this help fill the hole in the Ozone layer?", or "Isn't Ozone harmful and doesn't it cause smog?". These types of questions and the confusion which often surrounds Ozone can be effectively dealt with through a better understanding of the nature of Ozone itself.
What is Ozone?
Ozone or activated oxygen can be produced either by solar radiation or by electrical charges (lightning) during a thunderstorm. Ozone (O3) has 3 oxygen atoms as compared to normal oxygen (O2) which only has 2 atoms. Ozone is created when oxygen (O2) molecules are split into two separate atoms by ultraviolet radiation from the sun, lightning and electrical arcs. The freed atoms recombine in 3-atom groups to form ozone (O3).
Most people associate ozone with either the thinning upper atmospheric filter-layer that protects us from solar radiation, or with ground-level air pollution. Ozone is also present in smog, because the same processes that create pollution also produce ozone, which in turn neutralizes the pollutants. Sunlight shining on industrial and automotive pollution shears oxygen atoms off of the pollutant molecules, leaving behind bad compounds such as nitrous oxide, nitric acid, sulphur dioxide, and carbon monoxide. Meanwhile, the freed oxygen atoms bond with free oxygen to form ozone.
Because this highly reactive ozone is unstable, it in turn, attaches itself to these same bad compounds, and neutralizes them by breaking them down into water, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, sulphur, and free oxygen (O2).
As part of nature's process, increased pollution results in increased ozone levels, but it is the pollution itself that is the culprit. Because ozone is easier to measure, it is used as an indicator in the levels of chemical pollutants in smog, and therefore used as an index to monitor outdoor air pollution. This, however, has caused some misunderstanding in reference to ozone. Photochemically created ozone in combination with smog chemicals is an unhealthy mix of toxins, and should not be breathed. However, generated low levels of ozone, for use in air and water purification, has many benefits.
Ozone is one of the most powerful natural sanitizers and deodorizers known to science. Ozone (O3-activated oxygen) doesn't merely mask odors and harmful substances, it seeks out and eliminates them at their molecular source. It is produced naturally in the atmosphere during a thunderstorm and is the "clean fresh air smell" which results after a cleansing storm. It is true that Ozone is often associated with smog however it is not the cause as is often believed. The very nature of Ozone and how it works will explain both the smog phenomenon and the ability of Ozone to be such a powerful natural sterilizer and deodorizer.
The most important property of Ozone is that it has a very short life span. This life span is called a "half-life". The half-life of Ozone is approximately 7 to 20 minutes. This means that half of the Ozone (O3) created will "break down" and "re-combine" as Oxygen (O2) each 7 to 20 minutes until all the Ozone is gone, depending upon temperature, humidity and the amount of contaminants in the air that the Ozone has to deodorize. In other words, strong odors will use more Ozone and light odors will require less Ozone. If the Ozone cannot find any odor to work on it simply reverts to Oxygen. Clean & Simple.
The Smog Issue: Outdoors in congested urban areas industrial chemicals spewed into the atmosphere combine with ultraviolet light to produce Ozone. This Ozone, by its very nature, will start to oxidize and simultaneously reduce these chemicals. Where pollutant levels are high there will be a lot of natural Ozone produced as a chemical byproduct of these pollutants, ironically, this same Ozone will be the natural force at work in reducing the levels of these chemicals.
In the indoor atmosphere Ozone works in the same way, casting off its extra atom which attaches itself to a pollutant, whether in the air, on surfaces of fabrics or rugs, oxidizing the offending pollutant and eliminating the odor. Ozone does not "mask" the odor. It combines with the unpleasant smelling element and chemically alters it into an inert element with no odor characteristics.
Virtually all odorous elements are susceptible to Ozone Oxidation, especially those found in cigarette smoke, food, garbage and human waste. Because of Ozone's relatively short half-life, the Ozone must be constantly replenished until all the odorous elements have been oxidized. The higher the contamination levels, the faster the Ozone will be consumed.
We are all familiar with that fresh air smell after a storm. This is Ozone in its typical natural levels as found in our national parks. In high quantities Ozone has a rather unpleasant odor, however the proper use of Ozone and its natural half-life feature will ensure that this will stay within the operator's control. There is no need for excessive amounts of Ozone to control odors as even the most persistent of odors can be controlled with a continuous, measured amount of Ozone.
Ozone is produced in all of our home and commercial units by a "Corona Discharge" ( a high voltage electrical discharge like lightning in a thunderstorm) which actually converts Oxygen (O2) into Ozone (O3). This provides the most technically advanced, effective and environmentally sound deodorizing method available. Using no chemicals, our units simply manipulate oxygen molecules in the air, converting them to Ozone. The Ozone while reconverting to Oxygen will eliminate the odors present.
What is Ozonation?
Ozonation is the process where ozone is used for disinfection. This process can be used to disinfect water, air, and even food. In Europe, ozonation has become the standard for disinfecting drinking water supplies, replacing the antiquated method of chlorination. Ozone is introduced into the water source, and due to its unique properties, it destroys micro-organisms, and can also help in rendering harmful chemicals and toxins harmless by changing their structure at the molecular level. This application is also very effective in air disinfection. Our air purifiers employ ozonation as part of their function, in addition to ionization.
What is the difference between Air Purifiers and Air Filters?
The most significant difference between Air Purifiers and filters is that a filter must have the air in your home forced through it. You must somehow find a way get all the air in your home through the filter. Any dead air (in closets, corners, etc.) that does not reach the filter will not be treated. However, in Air Purifiers, the treatment of the air permeates the air itself. In other words, rather than trying to make the air come to it, it goes out into the air right through walls and doors.
Another significant difference is that Air Purifiers can detoxify and render harmless many chemical contaminants. Filters cannot do this unless they have been specifically designed to remove a specified chemical (eg. gas masks using different cartridges for different toxic gases). Many of the home air filters available on the market are mainly only capable of removing dust particles, sometimes bacteria and viruses (HEPA filters), and sometimes odors (charcoal). Most do not eliminate the toxic gases found being given off by glues, painted surfaces, wood products, carpets, etc.
Filters also need to be replaced periodically, increasing the running cost of this type of unit. Our air purifiers do not require any replacement filters.
Nothing is added to the environment. Only the odor is eliminated. This isn't magic, it's chemistry & electrical engineering. Now when a customer says "I wish I could just open this place up and get some fresh air in here" you can provide Mother Nature's own formula, Ozone.
- eliminates odors naturally
- oxidizes odor molecules and destroys odors at the source.
- can effectively eliminate all types of odors such as; smoking, body odor, food, garbage, mold and mildew.
- leaves behind a "Fresh Air Fresh" environment - turning complaints into compliments.
In case you've heard bad things about ozone, don't worry, ozone is completely safe and effective when occurring within FDA and OSHA standards of 0.05 ppm (parts per million). In healthy and clean outdoor environments, ozone occurs between 0.02 ppm and 0.05 ppm. Ozone has not been found to be harmful to the lungs until occurring at concentrations of 0.1 to 0.2 ppm.
All of our units are designed to operate within the Occupational Health & Safety Standards (OHSS) and are supplied with easy to read operating and maintenance instructions to assist the operator in ensuring that usage falls within OHSS guidelines.
Occupational Health & Safety Standards(OHSS) for ozone in occupied areas are:
- The Short Term Exposure Value (STEV) standard states that in any 15 minute period an individual should not be exposed to an average level of Ozone in excess of 0.3 parts per million.
- The Time Weighted Average Exposure Value (TWAEV) standard states that for any 8 hour period in a 40 hour week an individual should not be exposed to an average level of Ozone in excess of 0.1 part per million.
Ozone in concentrations above 0.1 part per million can be irritating to people and small animals. In particular, because of Ozone's "drying" effect, it can be an irritant to those individuals with respiratory ailments.
HealthSmart Nutrition recommends a maximum of 0.04 parts per million when operating a unit in any occupied area. These levels can be estimated within the operating instructions.
Responsibility for the safe use of any ozone generating equipment lies with the owner of the equipment. It is also the responsibility of the owner/operator to ensure that family members or employees using the equipment are trained on the safe use of the equipment.
All "ozone output" charts within the operating instructions have been developed after extensive testing to determine the actual output of each unit at various levels. All charts indicate milligrams per hour of ozone in dry, room temperature air (70oF, 21oC). It is important to note that ozone output is effected significantly by changes in temperature and humidity (see below). It is also important to note that the rate at which Ozone will eliminate odors and revert to Oxygen will be effected by the level of contaminants in the air.
Important Facts about Ozone
i. Ozone output INCREASES as HUMIDITY DECREASES.
Ozone output INCREASES as TEMPERATURE DECREASES.
For OCCUPIED AREAS ozone levels should remain BELOW 0.04PPM.
ii. Ozone is an unstable gas that is constantly reverting to Oxygen.
The rate at which this process occurs is known as Ozone's HALF LIFE.
The Half Life is the time it takes for half of the Ozone to revert to Oxygen.
iii. This Half Life is effected by the existing air quality as follows;
in CONTAMINATED AIR -> OZONE IS CONSUMED FASTER.
in CLEAN AIR -> OZONE STAYS LONGER.
Table 1. Ozone Heath Effects and Standards
|Health Effects||Risk Factors||Health Standards*|
|Potential risk of experiencing:
Decreases in lung function
Aggravation of asthma
Throat irritation and cough
Chest pain and shortness of breath
Inflammation of lung tissue
Higher susceptibility to respiratory infection
(* ppm = parts per million)
|Factors expected to increase risk and severity of health effects are:
Increase in ozone air concentration.
Greater duration of exposure for some health effects.
Activities that raise the breathing rate (e.g., exercise).
Certain pre-existing lung diseases (e.g., asthma).
|The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires ozone output of indoor medical devices to be no more than 0.05 ppm.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that workers not be exposed to an average concentration of more than 0.10 ppm for 8 hours.
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends an upper limit of 0.10 ppm, not to be exceeded at any time.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone is a maximum 8 hour average outdoor concentration of 0.08 ppm.
Regulation of Ozone
As required by the Clean Air Act, the US EPA has developed new clean air standards for ozone. EPA is replacing the previous 1-hour ozone standard with a new 8-hour standard. The new standard is set at a concentration of 0.08 parts per million (ppm) over an 8 hour measurement period.
The 1989 OSHA PEL for ozone was 0.1 ppm TWA. OSHA proposed, and the final rule establishes, permissible exposure limits of 0.1 ppm TWA and 0.3 ppm STEL for ozone. The ACGIH has recommended that 15-minute short-term exposures to ozone not exceed 0.3 ppm. In 1993, the ACGIH established a TLV of 0.1 ppm as a ceiling value for ozone. The current NIOSH REL for ozone is 0.1 ppm. These organizations continuously evaluate the criteria used in establishing limits and periodically update their standards. Check with each Standards Organization for the most recent safety information prior to working with ozone or any other potentially hazardous substance.