You might want to think twice before purchasing an ozone generator to clean the
air in your home.
Many ozone generators are being sold as home air cleaners with the common
selling point that treating the air with ozone will give you the same clean,
fresh air you might experience after a rainstorm, a time when ozone levels on
the ground are higher than normal.
Make no mistake about it: ozone in the Earth's stratosphere is protective and
vital to the survival of this planet, but at ground level it is a toxic gas that
actually can be harmful to the respiratory system. Ozone at ground level may
cause respiratory irritation, reduce lung function, aggravate asthma and chronic
lung diseases, and inflame lung cells. Repeated exposure to ozone may even cause
permanent lung damage.
Many manufacturers and sellers of ozone generators boast that these products are
safe; that their ozone output is enough to decontaminate the
remaining within the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) established public
health guidelines. Some don't refer to the ozone directly, instead calling it
"activated oxygen" or similar names.
All this can be quite misleading. The Food and Drug Administration recommends a
limit of no greater than 0.05 parts per million (ppm) of ozone in indoor air.
While ozone gas can be used for air purification in some cases, small amounts of
it are near useless. Ozone levels would have to be at least five to 10 times
greater than the public health limit to have any immediate or lasting impact
(researchers have found that ozone at levels above just 0.08 is a potent
irritant). The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) also
found no evidence to suggest ozone at such low levels would decontaminate air.
In fact, ozone in the air can react with household chemicals and gases to create
even more harmful by-products.
The American Lung Association also advises it is possible that any
ozone-emitting air cleaners that are not listed as safe by the FDA or do not
prove they are within guidelines may release unsafe levels of ozone. Levels of
the gas could be raised to even more harmful levels if ozone-emitting machines
are used in small spaces, if interior doors are closed, or if there is not
enough outside ventilation.
One of the biggest hazards of ozone exposure is the fact that physical damage
can occur without any noticeable signs. Those frequently exposed to the gas may
even find that their symptoms go away over time, while the gas continues to
inflict damage on the respiratory system unbeknownst to the individual. In fact,
the ability even to smell ozone decreases the longer one is exposed to it.
It should be noted that ozone gas is used effectively in some cases. It is
sometimes used in very high concentrations to purify the air in rooms and
spaces, though this is done when no inhabitants will be present for hours,
giving the gas enough time to dissipate and break down into breathable oxygen.
It also is commonly used in municipal water filtration as a safer and more
effective alternative to chlorine (once the gas dissipates, no trace of it
remains in the water). However, these uses do not suggest in any way that
regular exposure to ozone in the air you breathe is safe.
PureAirProducts.com intends to sell products that will better your air quality
and protect your health, so we do not sell ozone-generating air purifiers.
Remember the most effective methods for reducing indoor air pollution are to
eliminate the sources of pollution and provide adequate outdoor air ventilation
combined with the use of safe and effective air purification technology.
You may wish to visit the EPA's web page devoted to indoor air cleaners for
further information: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/airclean.html.