WHAT IS OZONE?
Ozone, (O3), sometimes called "activated oxygen", contains three atoms of oxygen rather than the two atoms we normally breathe. Ozone is the second most powerful sterilant in the world and can be used to destroy bacteria, viruses and odors. Interestingly ozone occurs quite readily in nature, most often as a result of lightning strikes that occur during thunderstorms. In fact the "fresh, clean, spring rain" smell that we notice after a storm most often results from nature’s creation of ozone. However, we are probably most familiar with ozone from reading about the "ozone layer" that circles the planet above the earth’s atmosphere. Here ozone is created by the sun's ultra-violet rays. This serves to protect us from the ultra-violet radiation.
HOW DOES OZONE WORK?
While ozone is very powerful, it has a very short life-cycle. When contaminants such as odors, bacteria or viruses make contact with ozone, they are destroyed completely by oxidation. In so doing, that extra atom of oxygen is consumed and there is nothing left...no odor...no bacteria...no extra atom, only oxygen. Ozone reverts back to oxygen after it is used.
HOW IS OZONE PRODUCED?
There are basically two methods of producing ozone...ultra-violet 185 nm and corona discharge. Corona discharge creates ozone by applying high voltage to a metallic grid sandwiched between two dielectrics. The high voltage jumps through the dielectric to a grounded screen and in the process, creates ozone from oxygen present in the chamber. Ultra-violet (UV) light creates ozone when a wavelength at 185 nm (nanometers) hits an oxygen atom. The molecule (O2) splits into two atoms (O), which combine with another oxygen molecule (O2) to form ozone (O3).
HOW LONG DOES THE OZONE LAST?
As soon as ozone is formed in the generator and dispersed in a room, some of it reverts back into oxygen. This step occurs by several processes including the following: Oxidation reaction with an organic material such as odours or smoke. Reactions with bacteria etc., which again consumes ozone by oxidation reactions. Additionally, ozone itself has a half-life which means that "residual" ozone created (extra ozone) will return to oxygen usually within 30 minutes, in amounts equal to half its level. What this means is that after each subsequent 30 minute period there would be half as much residual ozone left at the end of the period as was present at the beginning of the period. This is similar to a geometric progression of 16;8;4;2;1. In practice the half life is usually less than 30 minutes due to temperature, dust, and other contaminants in the air. Therefore, ozone, while very powerful, doesn't last long. It does its job and then disappears.
WILL THE ODOR COME BACK?
No. If ozone is applied properly it destroys (oxidizes) the source of the odor. However, in the case of mildew the odor will return if you are unable to get rid of the moisture that is the source of the mildew.
HOW DOES OZONE HANDLE TOBACCO SMOKE?
It eliminates the irritation caused by phenol gasses, by oxidizing them. Phenol gasses are the invisible part of tobacco smoke that causes such discomfort to one's eyes and create the offensive odors. Ozone rids any environment of the effects of smoke completely, rather than merely filtering out the visible particles.
WILL OZONE REMOVE STAINS AND NICOTINE BUILD UP?
No, ozone will not remove the stains. Ozone will deodorize and help to decontaminate the problem but will not remove the actual substance.
WILL OZONE AFFECT COMPUTERS, FABRICS AND PAINTINGS?
No, ozone will not affect personal computers, fabrics or paintings. The concentrations are not high enough even during shock treatments for long periods (> 30 days) of time.
IS OZONE HARMFUL AND WHAT IF ANY ARE THE LONG TERM EFFECTS?
Ozone has been known for almost a century, so a great deal is known about it. Several regulatory agencies, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), have stipulated that the safe allowable level of residual is 0.10-ppm (parts per million). Note that this permissible level is for continuous exposure throughout an entire 8 hour day for 5 days a week. The temporary effects of such a low exposure would range from headaches, to sore throats, irritation in the eyes, and nose. No long term effects have ever been documented from ozone exposure.
HOW CAN YOU TELL THE LEVEL OF OZONE?
There are a number of methods available, the most common being the Draeger tube. Residual ozone becomes apparent to sensitive humans in the range of 0.01 - 0.03-ppm, or well below the permissible levels for continuous exposure. As noted previously, this residual smell is ozone that has not been consumed by the odours and is now remaining in the air. Ozone Solutions also carries portable and wall mounted sensors to measure the ozone level inside a room or home. These sensors are portable and light and can easily detect the ozone levels emitted by the entire line of ozone generators. Please contact Ozone Solutions to learn more.
IAQ can be affected by microbial contaminants (mould, bacteria), gases (including carbon monoxide, radon and volatile organic compounds) that can induce adverse health conditions. Indoor air is becoming an increasingly more concerning health hazard than outdoor air. Using ventilation, filtration and source control are the primary methods for improving indoor air quality in most buildings. Unfortunately, most air handling systems create ideal environments for microbial contaminants to grow and propagate. The warmth and moisture found in the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning systems of households and office buildings make the perfect breeding ground for airborne moulds, microorganisms and bacteria. These HVAC systems also provide an ideal way to circulate viruses and germs around an entire office building or home in a relatively short time. The use of Ultra Violet in air handling units has become an efficient solution in de-activating Mould, Mildew, Bacteria and Viruses.
Using Ozone and UV in Cold Storage dramatically reduces the potential for spreading germs from handling foods like meats, fish, fruits and vegetables. Microorganisms such as bacteria, moulds and yeast that can grow in refrigerators, cause spoilage and decrease shelf-life. Organic or bacterial “slime” grows on produce and refrigerator coils, pans, and in drain lines that can block or restrict flow, causing cross-contamination to the other foods in the refrigerator.
Ethylene is produced from all parts of higher plants including the leaves, stems, roots, flowers, fruits, tubers, and seeds. During the life of the plant ethylene production is induced during certain stages of growth such as germination, ripening of fruits, abscission of leaves, and senescence of flowers. Plant reactions to ethylene include stimulation of the aging process in leaves & flowers, the shedding of leaves & flowers, ripening of fruit and a climacteric rise in respiration in some fruit which causes a release of additional ethylene.
• Ethylene shortens the shelf life of many fruits by hastening fruit ripening and floral senescence.
• Ethylene will shorten the shelf life of cut flowers and potted plants by accelerating floral senescence and floral abscission.
• Flowers and plants which are subjected to stress during shipping, handling, or storage produce ethylene causing a significant
reduction in floral display. Flowers affected by ethylene include carnation, geranium, petunia, rose, and many others.
Ethylene can cause significant economic losses for florists, markets, suppliers, and growers. Researchers have developed several ways to inhibit ethylene but inhibiting ethylene synthesis is less effective for reducing post-harvest losses since ethylene from other sources can still have an effect.
Using Ozone and UV in Cold Storage will increase shelf life by controlling ripening and reducing decay. Common items that benefit from Ozone or UV in Cold Storage are Apples, Avocados, Bananas, Berries, Citrus, Cucumbers, Grapes, Onions, Pears, Peppers, Potatoes, Stone Fruit and Tomatoes. Ever increasing concerns regarding extending shelf-life, control of decay, control of ripening, quality and appearance of food without depending on chemicals have driven increased demand for safe, proven food storage alternatives such as ozone.
Ultraviolet and Ozone in Cold Storage kills airborne and surface microorganisms, shuts down the sporulation process, and consumes ethylene produced by ripening. After oxidizing microorganisms, ozone immediately reverts to pure oxygen, leaving no residue and maintaining taste, texture and smell characteristics in the product’s natural state. Growers, packers, and processors are able to extend product life and marketability, as well as decrease decay losses of fresh produce naturally. Ozone can be used alone or as a complementary measure with various post-harvest preservation techniques.