Ozone - A Natural Purifier

Ozone is a natural component of the air we breathe each and every day.

It is created when oxygen molecules are split into two separate atoms by ultraviolet radiation from the sun, lightning and electric arcs. The freed atoms recombine in three-atom groups to form cousins of oxygen -- or ozone.

Most people associate ozone with either the beleaguered upper atmospheric filter layer that protects us from solar radiation or with ground level air pollution. Ozone is indeed present in smog, because certain processes that create pollution also produce ozone. Consequently, increased pollution results in high ozone levels, but ozone specifically, is not the culprit. Because ozone levels have a direct relationship to levels of chemical pollutants found in smog, it is used as an index to monitor outdoor air pollution. This is why there is a misunderstanding in reference to ozone. Photochemically made ozone mixed with smog chemicals is an unhealthy soup mix of toxins, and should not be breathed. On the other hand, generated low levels of ozone, for use in air and water purification, has many benefits to offer mankind.

Ozone is one of the most powerful natural sanitizers and deodorizers known to science. Ozone (activated oxygen) doesn't merely mask odors and harmful substances, it seeks out and eliminates them at their molecular source.

Average outdoor ozone levels in unpolluted areas are between .03 and .05 parts-per-million. The highest naturally occurring levels are found at seashore, forest and mountain locales, places people go to vacation and feel refreshed. The fresh, invigorating air after a spring electrical thunderstorm is ozone. So is the smell of air-dried laundry on a clothes line.

Ozone, one of Mother Natures' most powerful air purifiers is missing in our often highly polluted indoor environments

Ozone is missing in our modern indoor environments, but pollutants are not. Ozone reacts with and breaks down the sources of unpleasant or hazardous indoor odors and chemicals. Chemical pollutant sources, about 99 percent of which are made up of "unsaturated" molecules, can take on additional molecules such as ozone (cigarette smoke as an example, with its 3,600 plus chemicals). The reactive ozone molecule soon breaks the pollutants down into their basic molecular components, thereby neutralizing them. Having given up its unpaired third oxygen atom in the process, the ozone molecule itself becomes plain oxygen again.

Bacteria, molds and fungi (mildew), which can cause unpleasant odors, allergic reactions and sometimes disease, are killed when they react with ozone. As with chemical pollutants, the outer membranes or shells of these microorganisms contain receptors that can absorb ozone, which proceeds to break them down. Without its protective membrane or shell, the bacterium, mold or fungus dies. Viruses are also killed by ozone.

Is ozone safe? Like virtually everything -- even oxygen -- ozone can be harmful if you're exposed to too much for too long. Natural outdoor ozone levels in clean environments vary between .03 and .05 parts-per-million. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declares .05 ppm as the safe level for 24-hour-a-day inhalation. This is a conservative standard, since natural levels of ozone often reach .065 ppm -- 25 percent higher than the FDA's "safety" limit.

Tests have shown that common household bacteria, mold, mildew, and fungus are greatly reduced by the addition of as little as .05 ppm of ozone in typical household environments. Specifically, E-Coli, Salmonella Choleraesuis, Staphylococcus Aureua, Candida Albicans, and Aspergillus Niger have been shown to have dramatic reductions in population in independent laboratory tests.

Also, in a series of studies published in the journal Priroda (1976), the Russian Department of Health established a number of important facts concerning the use of ozone in closed indoor environments.

They established that air loses its basic "freshness" quality merely by being drawn into air conditioning and heating systems, with as much as 90% reduction of the ozone and ion levels. They established that the effect of the loss of these elements could cause the occupants to complain of headaches, weakness, and a general poor feeling (what we would identify as sick building syndrome). As a part of the study, they found that after five months of testing with both a test group and a control group, that a feeling of well being returned to those exposed to an ozone level of .015 parts-per-million. At these same levels, they were able to observe increased immune potential, higher oxygen content in the blood, improved blood pressure reading, and the reduction of many of the stress characteristics associated with working in modern office environments.

They found that by reactivating the air by the injection of ozone to raise the level to a mere .015 ppm the overall effect was similar to that of taking an outdoor walk of 2 hours during the day.

In additional studies done by the Institute of Child and Adolescent Hygiene, they concluded that injection of ozone into the air of schools raising the level to .015 ppm has very positive effects on the students. In these tests, 69% of the students exposed to these levels of ozone decreased the time required to complete tasks requiring high levels of concentration. In addition, favorable changes in the functions of external respiration, increases in mental reserve capacities, and overall increases in general state of health and mental efficiency were observed.

These results agree with the results and anecdotal testimonies of users of this type of equipment in the USA and Canada. Testimonies show that with the use of ozone air purifiers:

    Allergic reactions are reduced
    Sleeping is improved
    Non specific headaches are reduced
    General poor feeling about the environment improved
    Depression reduced
    Symptoms of sinus problems resolved
In general, the use of an ozone generating air purifier to reactivate the air results in the same effect as being in an outdoor environment in a clean unpolluted part of the world.

With all of these obvious benefits, it would seem that everyone should use this type of device. It is because sweeping generalizations have propagated the myths about the dangers of ozone that wide acceptance of ozone purification and its benefits have been ignored.

A study of all of the applicable literature found in the National Library of Medicine's Medline, Toxline, and Toxback database of ozone was conducted. The search resulted in over 4,500 documents.

A summary of these documents is as follows:

    High and extremely high levels of ozone result in decrements in lung function. Physiological studies suggest that at these high levels, athletes and children may be sensitive to lung functional changes, and that these changes are largely statistical in nature with no visible symptoms. Tabulation of chamber studies for continuous and intermittent exercise do not indicate lung function decrements of FVC and FEV-1 in excess of 10% (the accepted level of criteria of adverse effect) until levels exceed 200 ppb (0.2 ppm). This is 4 times the level of ozone produced by our home purifiers.
    People with lung disorders and with respiratory problems have no more sensitivity to ozone levels than normal people.
    There is no indication of adverse effects below 200 ppb (0.2 ppm).
    There is no indication that there are any long term effects to prolonged exposure to ozone at levels lower than 120 ppb (0.12 ppm).
    Respiratory problems are more affected by other organic pollutants than by ozone, and ozone has the capacity to reduce those levels.
Considering the safety, the wide range and level of effectiveness, the cost of energy and the make up of our current indoor environment, it would seem that the closest alternative to opening the window (in an unpolluted outdoor environment) is to replace the vitality of the air by replacing the ozone that occurs naturally outdoors each day.

For additional information please see: Ozone tests on Mold, Bacteria and Yeast.

The whole home ionic ozone purifiers we offer produce .02 -.04 parts-per-million of ozone when set for 24 hour a day use. The air purifiers also produce ionization uniformly within 60 feet of the purifier and are in a class of their own. The purifiers offer protection for people who suffer from pollutants which can trigger allergies and environmental sensitivities, or those who just want to freshen up musty, smelly basements. Low, natural levels of ozone can be a powerful ally.