Ozone Air Purifiers May Cause Permanent Lung Damage
Several manufacturers are currently selling ozone generators as air cleaners. the businesses manufacturing these devices state they’re safe and effective at controlling indoor air pollution; however, for nearly a century health professionals and health organizations like the American Lung Association have challenged these claims.
Sellers of ozone-producing devices often use fanciful terms to explain ozone. it’s mentioned in such terms as “activated oxygen” or “pure air”, which suggest that ozone is simply a healthy quite oxygen. However, ozone may be a toxic gas which has vastly different chemical and toxicological properties compared to oxygen.
Ozone may be a molecule composed of three atoms of oxygen, as against the oxygen we normally breath, which has two. The O2 molecule is stable and nonreactive, whereas the O3 molecule is unstable, tending to dissociate and produce an O2 molecule and one single ionized oxygen atom. This single atom acts as a “free radicle”, that is, it reacts with other nearby substances and changes their chemical composition. it’s this ability to mix with other substances that forms the idea of manufacturers’ claims that it binds up organic particles within the air and removes them from circulation.
Unfortunately, an equivalent chemical properties which permit ozone to react with organic material within the environment also provides it the power to react with similar organic material within the body, with potentially harmful health consequences. When inhaled, ozone can damage the lungs, and it’s considered an undesirable substance that’s a component of smog.
Inhalation of ozone at even low amounts can cause respiratory problems and throat irritation. additionally , ozone worsens chronic respiratory diseases like asthma and impairs the body’s aptitude to fight respiratory infections.
A generally accepted theory of aging states that the cells of the physical body age both thanks to genetic factors (loss of cell telomeres) and oxidative damage by free radicals. People are encouraged to eat a diet high in antioxidants, and lots of take antioxidant supplements, precisely to avoid the type of injury caused by reactive substances like ozone.
Most people get over acute exposure to ozone, but consistent with a 1996 EPA study, long-term exposure may cause permanent lung damage. The EPA regards ozone as an air pollutant and has formulated air quality standards to enable local officials to warn the general public when ozone levels in urban areas are excessive. When ozone (and other air pollutants) are high, asthmatics and patients with chronic lung disease are encouraged to remain inside, and healthy people are told to refrain from strenuous outdoor exercise which raises their breathing rate within the toxic air. Since people are advised to avoid ozone within the outdoor environment, it’s difficult to know why anyone would buy a tool to purposely produce it within their own homes.
The FDA requires ozone output of indoor medical devices to be but 0.05 ppm. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that workers’ exposure to ozone not exceed a mean concentration of quite 0.10 ppm for 8 hours. The National Institute of Occupational Safety And Health (NIOSH) recommends an upper limit of 0.10 ppm which shouldn’t be exceeded even briefly. EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone may be a maximum 8 hour average outdoor concentration of 0.08 ppm.
The EPA coined the phrase “good up high -bad nearby” to differentiate between ozone within the upper and lower atmosphere. Stratospheric ozone within the upper atmosphere about 10 to 50km (32,000 to 164,000 feet) above surface helps filter damaging ultraviolet radiation . This ozonosphere is being decimated by CFC compounds utilized in refrigerators and coolant systems. After negotiation of a world treaty, the Montreal Protocol, CFC production was sharply limited beginning in 1987 and phased out completely by 1996, and a study by the American Geophysical Union shows the speed of stratospheric ozone destruction slowing.
Ozone Generators are ineffective in controlling indoor pollution , because scientific evidence shows that at concentrations that don’t exceed public health standards, ozone has little potential to get rid of indoor air contaminants, though it still has the longterm potential to cause lung irritation.
Vendors claim that ozone will render almost every chemical contaminant harmless through a reaction whose only by-products are CO2 , oxygen and water. this is often false advertising for several reasons.
First, it takes months to years for ozone to react with many of the chemicals commonly found in indoor air (Boeniger, 1995); so for all practical purposes, this is often useless. Also, ozone generators won’t remove carbon monoxide gas (Salls, 1927; Shaughnessy et al., 1994) or formaldehyde (Esswein and Boeniger, 1994).
Secondly, in many cases where the reaction between the pollutants and ozone does occur readily, the by-products are as harmful or irritating because the original pollutants (Weschler et al., 1992a, 1992b, 1996; Zhang and Lioy, 1994).
For instance, a laboratory experiment was conducted which mixed ozone chemically from new carpet. Ozone did reduce many of the chemicals, including those which may produce “new carpet” odor. However, the reaction produced a spread of aldehydes, and therefore the total concentration of organic chemicals within the air actually increased (Weschler, et. al., 1992b). Levels of irritating acid also rise (Zhang and Lioy, 1994).
Some of the byproducts of ozone reaction are themselves reactive and continue to supply further irritating and corrosive by-products (Weschler and Shields, 1996, 1997a, 1997b). Ozone producing devices turn an inside environment into a seething chemical flask.
Third, ozone by itself doesn’t remove airborne particles like pollen and housedust. However, some ozone generators are manufactured with an “ion generator” or “ionizer” within the same unit to disperse negatively (and/or positively) charged ions into the air. These ions attach to particles within the air giving them a negative (or positive) charge in order that the particles may attach to nearby surfaces like walls or furniture, creating an undesirable grimy layer; or attach to at least one another and settle out of the air. In recent experiments, ionizers proved ineffective in removing dust, tobacco smoke, pollen or fungal spores compared to either high efficiency particle filters or electrostatic precipitators. (Shaughnessy et al., 1994; Pierce, et al., 1996).
Even at concentrations that greatly exceed public health standards, ozone is ineffective at cleaning the air. And unfortunately, there’s evidence to suggest that in some circumstances ozone generating devices exceed tolerable output limits. thanks to the varying brands and models of those machines, and therefore the different room sizes during which they’re eventually used, there are often great variation within the eventual concentration of ozone within the air.
In a study by Shaughnessy and Oatman (1991), an outsized ozone generator recommended by the manufacturer for spaces “up to three ,000 square feet,” was placed during a 350 sq ft room and run at a high setting. The ozone within the room quickly reached hazardous levels of 0.50 to 0.80 ppm, 5-10 times above public health limits.
In a 1995 EPA study, several different ozone generators were tested during a home environment, in rooms of varied sizes, with doors alternately opened and closed, and with the central ventilation fan alternately turned on and off. The results showed that some ozone generators, when run at maximum settings during a sealed room, frequently produced hazardous concentrations of 0.20 – 0.30 ppm. When the units were run at lesser settings, with interior doors opened, concentrations generally remained within public health standards.
Due to this wide variation in output and concentration, it’s impossible for consumers to understand what proportion ozone is really within the air they’re breathing; in many ordinary circumstances, ozone generators can produce toxic levels. a minimum of one manufacturer is selling machines equipped with ozone sensors that turn the machine on and off in response to ambient ozone levels, so as to take care of levels of this entirely undesirable gas within a”safe” range. The EPA is currently conducting tests to evaluating the reliability of those sensors.