An ozone machine is a device that generates ozone, which is a naturally occurring gas in the earth’s atmosphere that is composed of three oxygen atoms (O3). Often referred to as an ozone generator, an ozone machine is commonly used to improve the air quality of the interior of a room or building by removing strong odors that may be present. More powerful ozone machines may also be used to kill mold and mildew spores and bacteria present in the interior air.
Ozone is a gas with a highly reactive nature. When ozone comes into contact with pollutants and odors in the air, one of the three atoms in ozone essentially splits off and combines with impurities in the air. This process effectively neutralizes and destroys many odor-causing particles, improving interior air quality. The remaining two oxygen atoms then form breathable oxygen(O2).
Ozone is generated in an ozone machine through one of two main methods. The first is known as a corona discharge and uses an electrical charge to split the two oxygen atoms. These single atoms then combine with ambient oxygen (O2) to form ozone (O3). The second method uses ultraviolet light to separate the oxygen atoms in the air. The separated oxygen atoms then attach to oxygen (O2) to form ozone (O3). With both methods, the ozone machine distributes the gas into the air once it has been created.
There is controversy over the use of ozone machines as ozone exposure can cause health problems such as coughing and shortness of breath. Ozone exposure can also cause lung damage and aggravate respiratory conditions such as asthma and emphysema. Even manufacturers that state that their ozone generators are safe generally have specific recommendations for the use of their machines to eliminate possible health risks.
Confusion about the possible health effects of ozone is often caused because ozone that is located high in the earth’s atmosphere is actually essential to protecting the planet from harmful amounts of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. Ozone located near the surface of the earth, however, can cause harmful health effects and is considered a pollutant. In many cities ozone in the lower atmosphere is a large component of smog pollution. A common adage regarding ozone is “good up high but bad nearby.”
Those interested in using an ozone machine should read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Most manufacturers recommend that a room be completely vacated when the machine is in use and be allowed to air out and ventilate completely after treatment. In addition, it may be beneficial to investigate and research alternate methods of air purification and odor removal, to find the best method of improving interior air quality.