Ozone: Good or Bad?
“I bought an ozone generator from another company, and I don’t like the smell.”
Then you have way too much ozone in your environment. If you can smell ozone, then it’s probably too much ozone.
What were the ozone generators purchased for?
- If they were purchased only for allergies to particulates*, then you bought the wrong product. You should have purchased a non-ozone-producing negative ion generatorinstead.
- If they were purchased for getting rid of odors, perhaps it can be used for short periods when there is an unwanted odor. But when the odor is gone (at which time you may or may not smell ozone), it should then be turned down or switched off completely.
We offer ozone generators ONLY for places where ozone is actually needed, that is, where there are strong odors or other gaseous pollution (stuff you can’t see under a microscope).
* We do not offer ozone generators for getting rid of particulates (stuff you can see under a microscope, such as dust, pollen, mold spores, bacteria, pet dander, and other allergens).
Ozone is very much misunderstood. Here are some examples and reasons why.
Another person mentioned an EPA site that suggests that ozone is not indicated for air purification. We think that page might have been the result of a large company (not us or the distributor of any product we sell) promoting ozone generators as air purifiers for every purpose in every situation (and they often falsely call their ozone generators “negative ion generators”). See the right column in our Ozone FAQ to see the difference. Also, you’d be surprised at the number of people we hear (not using anything we sell) that complain of an ozone smell, yet don’t turn the ozone down (or off) on their machine.
Here’s an e-mail from another concerned person:
“Please explain the following information found on the internet:
“Effects of Ozone
“When you inhale ozone, it travels throughout your respiratory tract. Because ozone is very corrosive, it damages the bronchioles and alveoli in your lungs, air sacs that are important for gas exchange (see How Your Lungs Work for details). Repeated exposure to ozone can inflame lung tissues and cause respiratory infections.
“Ozone exposure can aggravate existing respiratory conditions such as asthma, reduce your lung function and capacity for exercise and cause chest pains and coughing. Young children and the elderly are most susceptible to the high levels of ozone encountered during the summer.
“In addition to effects on humans, the corrosive nature of ozone can damage plants and trees. High levels of ozone can destroy agricultural crops and forest vegetation.
“Ozone is ‘bad’ when it is at ground level. Ozone is a very reactive gas that is hard on lung tissue. It also damages plants and buildings. Any ozone at ground level is a problem. Unfortunately, chemicals in car exhaust and chemicals produced by some industries react with light to produce lots of ozone at ground level. In cities, the ozone level can rise to a point where it becomes hazardous to our health. That’s when you hear about an ozone warning on the news.”
This is correct, when too much ozone is present. Perhaps you have also read this from the EPA: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/ozonegen.html. It’s been some time since we’ve read that EPA article. But it appears to us that that article needs some clarifications, to say the least. Please consider this excerpt from it:
“In one study (Shaughnessy and Oatman, 1991), a large ozone generator recommended by the manufacturer for spaces “up to 3,000 square feet,” was placed in a 350 square foot room and run at a high setting. The ozone in the room quickly reached concentrations that were exceptionally high–0.50 to 0.80 ppm which is 5-10 times higher than public health limits….”
Why was this large ozone generator, rated at 3000 square feet, turned up so high in so small a room? Of course the ozone level in the room was way too high. Was there a reason to use ozone there (odors) other than the test?
But they do note the following on that same web page:
“When [the ozone generators] were not run on high, and interior doors were open, concentrations [of ozone] generally did not exceed public health standards (US EPA, 1995).”
And so we do not share the belief that ozone is always bad, either. It is the only solution in certain situations to strong odors, such as buildings where there has been a fire. If the ozone is adjusted properly, neither ozone nor the undesirable odors will be present. The author used to work in a factory where a chemical and wood structure fire occurred, and the results of the ozone generators brought in by the management were absolutely spectacular. The smoke smell was no longer present, so long as the ozone was on! You could only smell ozone near the ozone generators, and not in the areas where the employees were working several feet away, once the ozone output was adjusted to the proper level. You could not have worked in that building without those ozone generators running, the fire smell was so intense without them. That is why we offer some air purifiers that produce adjustable levels of ozone, for certain carefully selected situations.
We think a misunderstanding about ozone is also due to the fact that people equate even tiny amounts of ozone (which is a short-lived, unstable gas that reacts with many pollutants and odors to produce harmless water vapor and carbon dioxide) with chlorine, propane, or dioxin (which are bad in any amount). Properly adjusted and applied (that is, to environments where there are certain pollutants or odors present), the ozone is destroyed, unlike other gases, and there will be little (if any) ozone present even with the ozone generator running. However, it should be noted that ozone does not react favorably with some chemical vapors, such as denatured alcohol, and the result is harmful unwanted aldehydes.
- If you are using ozone when people are present, the amount of ozone generated should exactly match the amount of odors or pollution entering the living area. That way, they destroy each other and neither ozone nor pollution is present. The ozone generator should be turned down or off when the odors or pollution source is no longer present.
- When using ozone at high levels, such as permanently deodorizing a used car owned by a smoker, no one should be allowed inside the car.
- Don’t buy an ozone generator unless you are trying to remove odors or harmful VOCs*. Period.
- Don’t buy an ozone generator to get rid of particulates and allergens such as dust, pollen, mold spores, pet dander. Get another kind of air purifier instead. Period.
*Volatile Organic Compounds.
We hope this clarifies the misunderstanding. And this is the reason why both the people who say ozone air purifiers are bad, and the others say using ozone is just fine, are both right.