The air you breathe has a huge impact on your body, so ensuring its optimal quality is essential for those who really care about their health.
Airborne bacteria and viruses? Dust? Traffic fumes? How much of those are you breathing in with every passing minute?
Granted, you can’t change global tendencies, get rid of universal pollutants, or freely move to the unspoiled wilderness with crystal clear skies BUT you can reclaim control over what you inhale in your own home. One of the ways of doing so is with the help of personal ozone generators – devices that purify the air, eliminate germs, cleanse odors, and support respiratory health.
So, what are ozone generators and how do they work?
Ozone generators are small devices that create ozone (O3), sometimes referred as trioxygen. In nature, this gas is usually formed when ultraviolet rays or powerful electric discharges (lightning bolts, for example) hit the oxygen molecules in the atmosphere.
Ozone generators work in a similar fashion: either by means of an electric discharge or via UV radiation, these machines break down part of the air’s oxygen (O2) into separate atoms of oxygen (O). Said atoms then come into contact with intact oxygen molecules and form trios – O3, thus making ozone.
Ozone: how does it work and why it’s great for your health
Gaseous ozone has 2 important properties to keep in mind:
- Fabulous oxidative power (among the most prominent known to mankind)
- It’s quite unstable, readily initiating chemical reactions and decaying to ordinary oxygen
So, when a molecule of ozone comes into contact with airborne bacteria, aromatic molecules, particles of dust, fungal spores or anything similar, ozone “gives up” one of its oxygen atoms and transforms from O3 back to O2. The third oxygen atom oxidizes the pollutant, basically burning it on a molecular level.
The final products of this chemical fire are oxygen (as a remnant of ozone) along with water and CO2 (usual products of oxidation) – everything natural and absolutely safe.
Confirmed benefits and uses of gaseous ozone
- A classic study carried out in 1983 by Dyas and colleagues confirmed that ozone concentrations between 0.3 to 0.9 ppm are able to kill a wide range of bacteria and fungi that can be harmful to humans. The list of neutralized agents includes such nasty bugs as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans and Aspergillus fumigatus.
- A much more recent study dating back to 2010 highlighted that ozone is great for sanitizing furniture dust, as it significantly decreases the number of viable bacteria, somewhat reduces the number of fungal species, and greatly decreases the immunotoxic potential of the treated dust.
- A lot of professional air cleaning organizations including the American NADCA acknowledge and support the use of ozone to effectively get rid of the odor of smoke, organic decay, and similar unpleasant smells.
Safety measures and possible dangers
Although gaseous ozone is generally safe in most cases it’s still important to remember it’s highly toxic in higher concentrations. Therefore, basic safety rules should be followed at all times:
- The best way to use ozone generators is to turn them on when there are no people or animals in the room. For example, it could be a wise idea to turn your device on immediately before everyone leaves the apartment for work or school. When you return, you’ll find the air pure and the remaining ozone turned back into ordinary oxygen as most researchers agree that ozone’s half-life is about 40 minutes at room temperature (roughly 20O C).
- For continuous odor control, while there are people in the room, it is recommended to run the ozonation at low intensity to avoid forming higher concentrations of the gas in the room. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) the exposure limit for ozone is 0.1 ppm (0.2 mg/m3), so check your room’s size and keep an eye on your generator’s operation intensity.
Early symptoms of excessive ozone exposure include irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and upper respiratory tract. If you notice yourself experiencing any of these, make sure that your generator is turned off, open all windows in the room, and go away for about 20 minutes.
Ozone generators are fabulous devices to have at home: besides cleaning the air of nasty bacteria and microscopic particles of dust, they can fill your apartment with that invigorating after-the-rain smell – natural freshness at its best!
Just keep in mind that ozone generators also have important safety recommendations, so make sure to carefully read the instructions provided with your device.