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Ozone's Benefits and Dangers

Apr 2, 2008
Many people think that indoor ozone use is dangerous. Others think it is a great way to sanitize indoor air. Still others have only heard the word ozone used in reference to the Earth's atmosphere. Much controversy surrounds the indoor use of ozone in the scientific community. Here are the basic facts to help you make an informed decision regarding the indoor use of ozone.

Ozone is a molecule composed of three atoms of oxygen. Two atoms of oxygen form the basic oxygen molecule, the essential element we breathe every day. Ozone, with its third oxygen atom, is less common and more reactive. The third atom is a chemical wild card, so to speak. It sometimes detaches from its ozone molecule and re-attaches to other molecules, which alters their chemical composition. This reactivity is at the heart of manufacturers' claims of air purification as well as scientists' claims that indoor ozone use is dangerous to your health.

Ozone's highly reactive nature makes it one of science's most useful substances. It is a strong oxidizing agent, far better than dioxygen. Ozone reacts with carbon, forming carbon dioxide at room temperature. It reacts with ammonia to form ammonium nitrate. It is also unstable at high concentrations, decaying to ordinary diatomic oxygen in about half an hour in atmospheric conditions. It is a highly unstable substance, making it very reactive with its surroundings. It is even reactive with the human body.

Ozone is sometimes referred to as activated oxygen. Think of the fresh, clean air that you breath just after a thunderstorm. The lightening causes the oxygen to become activated, making ozone. The fresh feeling in the air is the result of ozone purifying the air around you.

Ozone purifiers use this same concept to clean the air, leaving a sanitized indoor atmosphere. A properly working purifier converts O2 (normal oxygen) to O3 (ozone). The ozone traps contaminants that ordinary filters are unable to catch.

Ozone can be dangerous at certain levels, though. It can cause respiratory problems. If you're looking at ozone air purification systems, be sure that they are up to EPA standards.

Along with the ozone feature, most air purifiers use other technologies that work hand in hand to clean the air. Purification systems using negative ion technology can be effective at removing contaminants from the air. These systems leave no negative byproducts. Negative ions stream from the system and attract harmful particles to them, bringing them to floor level and away from your respiratory system.

Some air purifiers offer ozone as an option, but not necessarily a standard. Often there is a selection switch for ozone settings. The makers and distributors of these systems understand that ozone purification may not be for everyone. Sometimes a special need has to be met. Perhaps someone in the house has respiratory problems. In these cases it's best to leave the ozone at the lowest possible level, or even off. Just make sure to enjoy that clean, fresh air.
About the Author
Mr. Fox researches workplace productivity due to mood disorders, lack of relationship building, and depression symptoms. In his articles he discusses technology-emitting safe levels of Ozone, and what benefits Ozone may have to offer.
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