Ozone. What is it and how can it help?
If you have ever called a company asking for help with taking care of an unpleasant smell in your home or business, you may have heard mention of the use of ozone. What is this Ozone thing they were talking about you may have wondered? How can it help? We are going to dispel this mysterious ozone and explain how and why it is used.
What is it?
Ozone is a gas that occurs both in the Earth’s upper atmosphere and at ground level. The earth’s atmosphere is 21% Ozone. Our atmospheric Ozone Layer is created by chemical reactions involving solar ultraviolet radiation (sunlight) and oxygen molecules. Our ozone layer is vitally important to life on earth. It acts as a filter for the shorter wavelength and highly hazardous ultraviolet radiation from the sun, protecting life on Earth from its potentially harmful effects.
Lightning will also produce Ozone through electrical excitation of Oxygen molecules. That sharp “fresh” smell that is often detectable during and after a thunderstorm can be attributed to Ozone.
Ozone is an inorganic molecule with the chemical formula O3. That means that three oxygen atoms are bonded together. Ozone is created when dioxygen or O2 (which is the oxygen that we breathe) has been bonded by the action of ultraviolet light or electrical discharges. The bond between three oxygen atoms is relatively week, which means that O3 is extremely reactive. Since O2 is a much more stable molecule, Ozone’s 3rd Oxygen atom easily bonds with other molecules transforming both. This process is called oxidation. Ozone is one of the most powerful oxidants and can be readily produced for use in both air and water.
How can it help?
The oxidative properties of ozone can be very useful. Small portable ozone generators have been developed using both electric charges and ultraviolet light to produce Ozone. These generators can be moved to any location that is in need of the power of oxidation. An Ozone generator takes in oxygen from the air and transform the O2 molecules into O3. The ozone is then release into the area.
In the restoration industry ozone is most often used to combat odor. An odor is caused by one or more volatilized chemical compounds. Once surface pollutants are handled, an area may still have an unpleasant smell because of airborne particles. Rather than remove the offensive airborne particles, compounds can often be transformed through oxidation. Adding ozone into a contaminated area results in volatile compounds picking up extra oxygen atoms, transforming them into entirely new compounds. The newly oxidized compounds do not produce any offensive odors. In addition, once ozone loses it’s third oxygen atom, it become safe and stable oxygen.
The amount of ozone needed to eliminate odor in an area depends on the size of the area and the concentration of contaminants. Large spaces or highly contaminated ones often require several ozone generators working around the clock for several days to produce an acceptable result. Once ozone has neutralized the space it is left with a slight chlorine smell that dissipates quickly.
However please be advised, breathing ozone can cause chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath and lung irritation. Ozone can only be used in a vacant property or in a sealed room. However, once an ozone treatment has been completed, a room must be aired out for only 10 minutes before it is completely safe.
So the next time you are plagued with a persistent odor issue, you may need a little help from an oxygen atom. Ozone might be able to supply it for you.
If you are struggling with a persistent odor issue in your home or business call SERVPRO of Oldham/Shelby/Trimble/Spencer/Henry today. We can help. 502.241.6861