FAQ, Frequently Asked Questions about ozone, ozone generators and how to use them.
QUESTION: WHAT IS OZONE?
ANSWER: Ozone, sometimes called "activated oxygen", contains three atoms of oxygen rather than the two atoms we normally breath. Ozone is the second most powerful sterilize in the world and its function is to destroy odors and other contaminants in nature. Interestingly ozone occurs quite readily in nature, most often as a result of lightning strikes that occur during thunderstorms. In fact that "fresh, clean, spring rain" smell that we notice after a storm most often results from natures creation of ozone. Ozone is also created by water falls. However, we are probably most familiar with ozone from reading about the "ozone layer" that circles the planet above the earth atmosphere. Here ozone is created by the sun's ultra-violet rays. This serves to protect us from the ultra-violet radiation. Additionally, each of us is exposed to high levels of ozone daily for short periods of time. This happens in heavy traffic conditions or during times when the weather forces the industrial gases to remain lower to the ground than is otherwise normal. The combination of these two factors can result in ozone readings as high as 4 or 5 times the "regulatory" levels for continuous exposure with absolutely no adverse affects as our exposure is for such short periods, and the ozone itself decays back to normal oxygen so rapidly.
QUESTION: I HAVE NOTICED THAT SOME WEB SITES CLAIM THAT THE OZONE GENERATORS THEY SELL DO NOT PRODUCE NITROGEN OXIDE, DO YOURS?
ANSWER: Do not believe claims about corona discharge ozone generators that claim "zero" or "no nitrogen oxides". ALL CORONA DISCHARGE OZONE GENERATORS CREATE A SMALL AMOUNT OF NITROGEN OXIDES" unless they use pure oxygen for feed gas and have absolutely no steel of any kind in the generation chamber. The amount produced is negligible, approximately 1/100 of the amount of ozone being produced. In an ozonated area that is safe to occupy (>0.04 ppm) the nitrogen oxide level would be around 0.0004, well below the safe level. Some companies have used a testing method that does not work, Draeger gas testing tubes and Matheson gas detector tubes for nitrogen are not usable in an ozone environment. Both companies state in their instructions that they will not give an accurate reading in an ozone environment. Draeger say's that the nitrogen oxide tests are "not compatible with an ozone environment" and Matheson states that "the stained layer is decolorized by ozone"We have tested our equipment with the Matheson gas testers and came up with 0 nitrogen oxides, However we know that, THE TESTS HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO MEANING WHEN DONE IN THE PRESENCE OF OZONE so we do not claim zero. The Draeger and Matheson gas test tubes use a small glass tube that contains cotton type batting inside that is soaked in a special chemical regent. The tubes are inserted into a special pump that draws a calibrated amount of air through it. The regent discolors up the length of the tube which is marked with concentrations. The problem is that as soon as the regent changes color it is bleached or " discolored" by the ozone and shows no reading, thus zero nitrogen oxide readings are obtained.
QUESTION: WHAT MATERIAL DO YOU USE FOR THE PLATES?
ANSWER: We use the best material available for all our components in our ozone generators. The plates are mica, the reason we use mica is because it lasts longer than any other dielectric material available for the following reasons.
a. Glass: Breaks far to easy, we hear regular complaints about glass plates breaking in other brands of equipment (even the ones contained in plastic). Try dropping a glass plate from even 1-2 feet, it will break. Even try dropping the machine, the plates will break. Glass plates are far to delicate and brittle, stay away from generators using glass!
b. Ceramic: Also breaks easily however it will withstand much more than glass, and it ceramic is a bit porous so it gets impregnated with greasy contaminants and then burns thru. Ceramic does not last very long, since it burns thru fast. Not recommended!
c. Mica: The best dielectric in our opinion. It does not break unless you actually bend it excessively or poke a hole thru it. If you drop it, or even throw it in the air it will not even damage it 99% of the time. Mica is so strong that it quite often lasts for many years when maintained properly. In our shop we tossed a mica sheet 5 times in the air 20 feet, all that happened is a small dent in the corner, the mica is still completely usable. Mica does not break easily at all, and is non porous!
If you read some web sites you will notice pages and pages of nonsense ramblings about "razor thin mica" etc.. These are written by individuals that are simply not knowledgeable about dielectric material. These pages and pages of ramblings are good proof that mica is the best material available,,,, why else would they spend so much time and effort trying to denigrate mica as much as possible.
QUESTION: HOW DOES OZONE WORK?
ANSWER: While ozone is very powerful, it has a very short life cycle. When it is faced with odors, etc. the extra atom of oxygen destroys them completely by oxidation. In so doing, that extra atom of oxygen is destroyed and there is nothing left...no odor... no extra atom, only oxygen. In addition to the effectiveness of ozone, we also know that it is safe to use when handled properly. We know this from our own safe exposures daily to ozone, weather, as noted earlier, resulting from being locked in traffic, or passing through industrial areas. These exposures have no effect on us beyond our acknowledging the unpleasant odor associated with this "filthy air". It is the very unpleasantness of this air that provides ozone with it's "built in" safety mechanism. Ozone is safe because we notice it's unpleasant odor at very residual levels. By residual we mean, the amount of ozone that is produced in excess of the required amount to eliminate whatever contamination that may be present in the room. This equipment, when installed correctly will not exceed government guidelines for continuous safe exposure. Even if installed incorrectly, ozone provides its own protection, as ozone warns us in a manner similar to smoke in a room. Ozone does this by becoming so offensive at 1.5 parts per million that we would not be able to stay in the environment for any more than a short period. This is much like what would happen if we entered a smoke filled room. However, while smoke might harm us, research has proven that such a limited exposure to such a low level of ozone would have no serious long term affect on us just as it does not affect us when caught in a traffic jam during rush hour. Carrying that example one step further, this equipment is incapable of producing ozone in sufficient quantities even if installed incorrectly and left running continuously, to cause any long term risks to your health even assuming that you could stand there and be exposed to it (remember the smoke example).
QUESTION: HOW IS OZONE PRODUCED?
ANSWER: There are basically two methods of producing ozone...ultra-violet and corona discharge. Most equipment in the past used the corona discharge method, simulating in essence, lightning. Equipment utilizing UV is now becoming the standard since new technology has allowed higher amounts of ozone to be produced using super HO tubes and new adjustable ballasts allow variable outputs with UV ozone. UV ozone is also the purest, most reliable, and have the least maintenance of any generator available.
QUESTION: HOW LONG DOES THE OZONE LAST?
ANSWER: As soon as ozone is formed in the generator and dispersed in a room some of it decays back into oxygen. This step occurs by several processes including the following: Natural decay (or revision to oxygen) due to ozone chemical instability. Speeding up of the above process by the presence of such as walls, carpets etc. stimulating the decay process. Oxidation reaction with odor causing organic material, which removes ozone. Reactions with odors etc., which again consumes ozone by oxidation reactions. Additionally ozone itself has a half life which means that "residual" ozone created (extra unneeded ozone) will return to oxygen within at most 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, odor, and other contaminants in the air. Therefore, ozone while very powerful doesn't last long...just does it's job and disappears.
QUESTION: WILL THE ODOR COME BACK?
ANSWER: 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.
QUESTION: HOW DOES OZONE HANDLE TOBACCO SMOKE?
ANSWER: 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 some of the visible particles like an "electronic air cleaner".
QUESTION: WILL OZONE REMOVE STAINS AND NICOTINE BUILD UP
ANSWER: No, ozone will not remove the stains or nicotine build up. Ozone will deodorize and help to decontaminate the problem but will not remove the actual substance.
QUESTION: WHAT IS THE RIGHT LEVEL OF OZONE?
ANSWER: The right level is when all the generated ozone is being used up accomplishing its job. However, this is difficult to obtain because it becomes a balancing act. Initially the machine's output is set high to get rid of the problem odor as quickly as possible. As this is being accomplished less ozone is required for the diminishing odor etc., thereby leaving some residual ozone in the air. If the machine output is not turned down after awhile then more residual ozone will be in the air. If there is a heavy smell of ozone, then there is more ozone present than is required to do the job. Simply turn the rheostat (output level control) down. This is a case where more is not considered better. Sales successes result when the dealer ensures that the results are what the customer expects. The most successful dealers usually install equipment on a trial basis and return to the trial location 24 hours later to ensure that residual ozone levels are not to high and that the customer knows how and when to regulate the machine to avoid a strong ozone smell.
QUESTION: IS OZONE HARMFUL AND WHAT IF ANY ARE THE LONG TERM EFFECTS?
ANSWER: Ozone has been known for almost a century now, so quite a lot is known about it. Several regulatory agencies, including OSHA - Occupational safety and health agency - have stipulated that the safe allowable level of residual is .08 ppm. based upon the historical safety of ozone. Note that this permissible level is for continuous exposure throughout an entire 8 hour day for 5 days a week. If anyone is exposed to that concentration of ozone, it is usually as the by product of an industrial process like arc-welding. The temporary affects of such a low exposure would range from headaches, to sore throats, irritation in the eyes, nose and the like, similar again to what we would experience in a traffic jam.
QUESTION: HOW CAN YOU TELL THE LEVEL OF OZONE?
ANSWER: There are a number of mechanical methods available, the most common and effective being the Draeger tube. Residual ozone becomes apparent to sensitive humans in the range of .01 - .03 ppm. or well below the permissible levels for continuous exposure. As noted previously, this residual ozone is extra ozone that is not required to eliminate the contamination. Adjustment of the rheostat is all that is required.
QUESTION: WHAT ARE THE APPLICABLE REGULATIONS REGARDING OZONE?
ANSWER: In Canada the Worker's Compensation Board of B.C. guidelines stipulate that continuous exposure 8 hours a day for 5 days per week in an environment containing .08 ppm. of ozone is safe. The normal concentrations that we will be using will be in the range of .01 - .03 ppm. well within the guidelines.
QUESTION: CAN OZONE BE HELPFUL WITH CRYOVAC'D BEEF?
ANSWER: Yes. If the premises where meat is hung, cut and eventually CRYOVAC'D, are treated with ozone, then this meat will be virtually contamination free as it is being packaged in the cryovac. And will consequently retain its good looks and stay fresh much longer before being sold or used than meat packed in an ozone free room where both odors and contaminant count will be high. Treatment of coolers and cutting packaging rooms with ozone ensures not only a contaminant free environment, but also a clean smelling room that customers and employees alike associate with a caring and progressive management.