Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Ozone for the Home - Part 1

OK, people of Boston, do you want to know about ozone? Well, ozone can be used for remediation along with air & water purification. However, it can also be dangerous to your health in the hands of a novice.

What is ozone?

Ozone gas is a molecule which consists of three oxygen molecules. It is naturally occurring in the earth's atmosphere at all levels and is essential to reef keeping. Ozone functions by sterilizing the water and relieving it of unwanted bacteria and microscopic organisms. Ozone is explosive and is harmful to animals and humans in large quantities.

Let's get right into it. One of my long time clients called me a few years ago after he met a salesman at the Boston Home Show selling $400.00 ozone units. These units are sold to be table-top units. He knows that we (Boston-Biosafety) use ozone as part of our arsenal. My client proceeded to recite the sales pitch he received from the salesman. The salesman even offered a free, 3 day in-home trial. I told my client to call the salesman back and get the "in home trial" so we could measure the ozone output. So, a few days later I was at his home with my ozone meter ready to see what $400.00 would buy.

The unit was JUNK. There were no detectable ozone levels outside a radius of a few feet. My ozone meter is very sensitive and had been recently calibrated. Now, let's go over why this is good and bad.

Why is it GOOD that the ozone unit did not produce a lot of ozone?

1. Well, ozone is an oxidizer and WILL irritate your lungs. In higher levels it will damage your lungs. So, the good news is, it won't damage your lungs.

Why is it BAD that the ozone unit did not produce a lot of ozone?

1. Ozone is only effective in higher concentrations. These units do not produce enough ozone to treat a normal size room. Will they remove some odors, yes...worth $400.00...NO.
2. Ozone dissipates quickly, so if the unit does not produce enough, the effective range is limited to the immediate area of the unit. What good is that?

Now, do they work? Depends on your definition of "work".

Worth $400.00? NO

This is not to say some of the units on the market are not good, but don't expect miracles. For the same amount of money, you can buy a very nice HEPA unit with a replacement filter. A good HEPA unit will remove irritants and mold spores from the air and trap them in the filter, Even if the table top ozone unit kills a mold spore, it's still floating in the air and can be an irritant. These ozone units will purify the air that passes through it, but not around it.

Which Ozone Units are Good?

* HVAC - Combination Ozone/UV units are excellent for in-duct HVAC systems. We have units that are over 6 years old in service without any reported problems.

* Hot Tubs - Ozone units are used in hot tubs. There is a lot of documentation touting the health benefits from bathing in ozonated water.

* Swimming Pools - We have converted many chlorine pools to ozone pools in the Boston area and New England. Once the pool is converted to an ozone system, all you have to worry about is the PH level.

* Commercial Laundries - Hotels all over Boston have benefited from converting to ozone.

* Commercial Kitchens - We have installed ozone systems in commercial kitchen in the Boston area. The use of ozonated water to clean fresh produce will kill the bacteria and molds, which extends the lifespan. A lot of our clients use the smaller units at home.


Table Top Units - So, to recap. Any small ozone unit you can buy cannot produce sufficient amounts of ozone to be useful. Any large unit will produce too much ozone and can be harmful to your health. Unless you have an ozone meter, how can you measure the amount of ozone?