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Ozone is a molecular gas that is beneficial while in the atmosphere, but can be a health risk when at ground level. An ozone test can be used by a homeowner to determine the amount of ozone in an indoor area. Levels of ozone greater than 0.105 parts per million (ppm) can be dangerous to the health.
Most ozone is atmospheric, meaning that it exists in the upper layers of the earth’s atmosphere. This ozone in the atmosphere is called the ozone layer and is the result of ordinary oxygen reacting with solar ultraviolet radiation. Tropospheric ozone, can be found at ground level, and is formed through a reaction between volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides. Both VOCs and nitrogen oxides come from human pollution.
Ozone is not typically found indoors, however, unless there is a specific item in the home that generates ozone. The most common sources of indoor ozone are air purifiers that generate it. When using an air purifier that generates ozone, it is advisable to perform an ozone test at regular intervals.
Most ozone test kits are designed to be used by the homeowner without calling in a specialist or technician. The majority of ozone test kits are in the form of a strip or stick that is treated with a chemical that reacts with ozone. The testing device is placed in the area to be tested and left for about 10 minutes, during which the strip will change color, depending on the amount of ozone in the air. This color is then compared to the colors on a chart that indicates how much ozone is in the air.
Levels of ozone under 0.045 ppm are considered good, while a moderate level of ozone is between 0.045-0.075 ppm. For at risk groups, an ozone level over 0.075-0.105 ppm can be dangerous. A reading of over 0.105 ppm indicates an unhealthy or dangerous level of ozone.
Inhaling ozone can have a number of side effects. Short-term exposure can result in decreased lung function, accompanied by cough and painful inspiration. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, throat irritation, chest tightness, and general inflammation of the respiratory system. The long-term side effects of sustained ozone exposure are unclear, yet it is thought that frequent episodes of inflammation and healing of the respiratory tract may result in permanent damage. Some individuals perform an ozone test because of this, to learn about the ozone levels in their home or workplace.