Marketing is an art, and just like any other form of art, a thoughtful, well-planned marketing campaign can be very powerful. Many manufacturers of ozone generators have perfected their manufacturing strategies and thus, have managed to convince countless people that they need to invest in those appliances to improve their health and well-being. Many manufacturers have marketed their ozone generators as “natural odor eliminators that use the strategies intended by nature”. These claims, no matter how convincing they may sound, however, may not be truthful.
You can’t always believe everything you hear in advertisements. Before you decide to invest in a pricy ozone air purifier, read on to learn more about these appliances and to determine if they’re actually worthwhile investments.
Like oxygen, ozone is a gaseous matter. Unlike oxygen, however, which is comprised of two oxygen atoms (Oշ), ozone is comprised of three oxygen atoms (Oȝ). Also unlike oxygen, ozone is an inorganic molecule. The additional oxygen molecule that ozone contains makes the gaseous matter very powerful, as that extra molecule can easily escape and then connect to other substances within the air, causing a quality that is extremely reactive and possible change the chemical composition of those substances. When we breathe in those ozone-altered substances, there’s a chance that our cells could be negatively affected.
Most people associated the term “ozone” with the ozone layer of the earth’s atmosphere, as the vast majority of the three bonded oxygen atoms sit in the stratosphere, an atmospheric layer that sits approximately 6 to 31 miles above the surface of the planet. An estimated 0.00006 percent of the earth’s atmosphere is comprised of ozone, and the highest concentrations of the gas exist about 20 miles above the surface of the earth.
High up in the atmosphere, ozone is important, as it absorbs and protect the surface of the planet from the harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun. Without the ozone layer, the ground level of the earth would be sterilized by UV light and life would not exist. While high up in the earth’s atmosphere, ozone is beneficial, when the gaseous substance occurs closer to the ground, as breathing it in can cause adverse health effects; hence why ground-level ozone is considered an air pollutant by the United State’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Ozone emits an odor that is similar to chlorine, and the scent can be detected at minimal concentrations in the air; as low as 0.1 ppm. At ground level, ozone naturally occurs as a result the interaction that occurs with sunlight and certain types of chemicals or pollutants that are expelled into the air. Examples of these pollutants include emissions from vehicles and industrial plants. Ozone is also generated naturally after a strike of lightening, which is why it isn’t unusual to smell the presence of ozone during an electrical storm.
Whether natural and pure or created as a result of oxygen mixing with chemical air pollutants, ozone can be hazardous to human and animal health. In fact, health experts and scientists have been warning about the dangers of ozone exposure since the early 1900s. Why is it harmful? Because just like ozone reacts with living substances within the natural world, it can also react with the living tissues inside the body. As a result of these reactions, numerous health complications can occur, such as respiratory issues, including inflammation of the airways, reduced lung function, and lung tissue damage, which can lead to the development of a serious, chronic cough and breathing complications. While anyone can develop impediments as a result of exposure to ozone, specific demographics of the population are more prone to experiencing health complications, including children, the elderly, and those who have been diagnosed with chronic respiratory conditions, such as asthma.
Ozone generators have become all the rage in recent years. As the name suggests, these machines generate ozone and distribute the gas throughout indoor air. The objective of an ozone generator is to kill microorganisms in the air, and thus, minimize odors. These appliances are often used in industrial applications; to disinfect hospitals, deodorize smoke-filled air, and decontaminate operating rooms post-surgery. In residential applications, ozone generators are marketed as a way to remove odors and improve indoor air quality. Electrostatic precipitators (ESP), filter-free appliances that are designed to remove fine particles from the air, such as dust and smoke, and ionizers, which are appliances that filter and purify the air, also generate ozone as a byproduct. The ozone these appliances produce are the result of the internal mechanisms they are outfitted with.
In order to generate ozone, these appliances break apart the two molecules that oxygen contains and turn them into single atoms. Those single atoms then attach to other oxygen molecules that are floating around in the air to generate ozone, which contains three oxygen molecules. There are two ways that oxygen generators achieve this goal. The first way is by creating silent corona discharge. Ozone generators utilize electric discharge to split normal oxygen molecules in the air into single atoms, and these atoms then connect with other oxygen molecules in the air to create ozone. The second way that ozone generators work is similar to how the ultraviolet radiation the sun emits to split oxygen into single atoms.
It stands to reason that you might be wondering why, if ozone can pose health problems, why then, are ozone generators used to purify indoor air? Ozone is very reactive and can alter the chemical composition of many substances and chemicals that are found in indoor air. This principle is the foundation that manufacturers of ozone generators cite when they claim that their appliances are beneficial.
Makers of ozone generators often state that ozone is a healthy form of oxygen and have developed fancy terms like “activated oxygen” or “pure air” to make their products sound safe and beneficial. Manufacturers will also claim that their products can eliminate odors from indoor air. However, in reality, as discussed above, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stated that in high levels, ozone can be toxic and cause adverse health effects.
Makers of ozone generators claim that their products are highly effective. They state that the ozone their products produce are extremely reactive and allows it to attach to pollution floating through the air – particularly odors, such as smoke, cooking odors, and even viruses, bacteria, and mold spores. Despite the claims that ozone generators make, they aren’t actually backed by any science.
Several scientific studies have found that ozone generators are not effective at preventing mold and bacteria growth in hospital rooms. In order to have any effect at all, unsafe levels of ozone would need to be produced. Public health officials have stated that ozone does not have any effect on mold spores, and therefore, they are not recommended for use with mold remediation efforts.
Odor elimination is one of the biggest selling points that manufacturers of ozone generators use. But is that claim really true? Well, there is evidence that suggests no, it isn’t. In fact, some studies have indicated that ozone generators have no impact on odor elimination. There are those who support the claim that ozone generators do remove odors; however, it is possible that chlorine smell that the artificial ozone the device is making may be masking the unpleasant odors.
In an effort to reduce the negative health implications that ozone exposure can cause, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), established the Clean Air Act. This act established standards under federal law for outdoor air quality, which includes six key air pollutants, of which ozone is one. Should the levels of ozone in outdoor air become high enough for the EPA to monitor, the use of ozone generators indoors can become even more dangerous, as these generators release pure ozone into indoor air. When high concentrations of ozone in the outdoor air that flows into your home combine with the pure ozone that an ozone generator produces, indoor air quality can become highly polluted. Breathing in such high concentrations of ozone can cause disastrous health effects.
As an example, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set a standard that limits the amount of ozone that indoor medical devices – including ozone generators – can generate. That limit is 50 parts per billion (ppb) of ozone. As per the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), indoor air should be comprised of no more than 100 ppb of ozone.
Ozone generators are marketed as extremely powerful air purifiers. They generate artificial ozone and distribute the gas throughout the air, removing contaminants, such as cigarette smoke, mold spores, bacteria, and even viruses, thereby not only eliminating odors, but also supposedly improving indoor air quality overall. Though they’re marketed as being safe and effective, it turns out that ozone generators can actually be harmful. As per the EPA, the level of ozone that many of these appliances generate is far too high. The ozone the appliances produce can also negatively interact with many of the chemicals that indoor air contains, which can lead to the production of several harmful by-products. For instance, a scientific study found that in a laboratory setting, when ozone was mixed with the chemicals that new carpeting can contain, while the gas did minimize a lot of the chemicals, it also created several toxic organic chemicals in the air. In other words, while the chemicals that the ozone generator targeted were reduced, the harmful byproducts that were created as a result of the ozone mixing with the chemicals rendered the process pointless. Additionally, ozone generators do not remove particulate matter from indoor air, such as pollen, dust, and pet dander; the particulates that are largely responsible for causing allergic reactions. Furthermore, there is evidence that suggests that ozone generators may not be effective at all.
In response to the negative effects that it was found ozone generators could pose, manufacturers introduced ionizers and electrostatic precipitators, which produce ozone. Like standard ozone generators, at first, it was believed that ionizers and electrostatic precipitators were beneficial, again, thanks to highly effective marketing campaigns, in 2005, however, the stance of these appliances shifted, thanks to a 2005 report issued by Consumer Reports Magazine. In this report, ionizers were exposed for the potential dangers they posed. The report stated that multiple ionizers had the ability to generate excessive levels of ozone, and thus, instead of improving indoor air quality, they could actually reduce it; in other words, the report indicated that ionizers caused more harm than good.
Given the information discussed above, you should probably think twice about using an ozone generator, ionizer, or electrostatic precipitator. Given the fact that these appliances have little, if any, effect on eliminating mold spores from the air, combined with the fact that the ozone these appliances generate can negatively interact with other substances that indoor air may contain, indicate that using an ozone generator would likely not provide any benefit.
If you are thinking about using an ozone generator to eliminate mold spores from your indoor air, there is a much better alternative. What is it? – Having a professional mold inspection.
During a professional mold inspection, a licensed, certified expert will conduct a thorough investigation of your home to determine if any mold is present. If mold growth is found, further efforts will be made; for example, surface samples and measurements of indoor air quality will be taken. Those samples will be tested by a lab to confirm what type of mold is present, as well as the level of mold spores that are floating through your indoor air.
Based on the information collected, a professional mold inspector will recommend effective strategies to properly eliminate the problem and effectively improve the quality of your indoor air.
For a comprehensive mold assessment, get in touch with the most reputable experts: Mold Inspection and Testing. Our expert technicians will conduct a thorough inspection of your home to determine if mold is, in fact, present, and if so, at what levels. They’ll also recommend solutions that can remedy the problem, such as DIY strategies or contacting a mold remediation professional.