What is Ozone?: Exploring its Dangers and Benefits

Ozone’s oxidative properties have been used for disinfection and odor removal for decades. However, ozone use does not come without risks.

The known dangers of ozone to Earth’s inhabitants beg the question—is there a better way to disinfect and deodorize?

What is Ozone?

At its molecular level, ozone is a highly reactive gas composed of three oxygen atoms. 90% of ozone exists in the stratosphere 5-10 miles above the Earth’s surface. In the stratosphere, ozone plays a crucial role in protecting human life by forming what is known as the ozone layer, which absorbs and scatters the majority of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. 

Beginning in the early 20th century, the oxidative powers of ozone were harnessed for water treatment and disinfection and are still utilized today. However, concerns are mounting over the release of ozone in the atmosphere, as high concentrations are toxic to living things. 

Besides ozone machines, ozone is introduced to the lower atmosphere through a variety of means, including:

  • Human activity: Chemical reactions in the presence of sunlight with pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) can produce ozone. VOCs and NOx are emitted from things like vehicle emissions, industrial facilities, and power plants. 
  • Environmental: Human activity is not the source of all ozone in the ground atmosphere. Natural occurrences such as volcano eruptions and lightning also contribute to ozone levels. A volcanic eruption releases VOCs, triggering subsequent reactions producing ozone. Additionally, the heat and energy from lightning cause a chemical reaction forming NOx, which can undergo further reactions to produce ozone.

What are the Dangers of Ozone?

Ozone can irritate the respiratory tract and even cause lung damage, making ozone toxic to people, pets, and plants. In plants, ozone prompts oxidative damage, impairing photosynthesis and stunting plant growth.

Do Airbotx Machines Produce Ozone?

At Airbotx, our machines employ ultraviolet light in the c-range (UV-C), which has the energy to disinfect and destroy pathogens in the air, surfaces, and contents. This is accomplished by breaking apart the chemical bonds of VOCs and then neutralizing them. 

A UV-V lamp at 185 nanometers also destabilizes oxygen molecules by splitting them into two oxygen atoms, which can then connect to other oxygen molecules and produce ozone. However, with the presence of both UV-V and UVGI in a machine, only a small amount of ozone is released from the machine chamber.

At Airbotx, we offer three different types of machines with varying levels of UV-C, depending on the machine’s intended use. 

Airbot 290x: This machine is intended for germicidal use and only has UVGI, producing no ozone. 

Airbot 390x and 490x: These designs are intended for odor and germicidal applications. The 390x and 490x machines contain both VUV and UVGI and are configured so that only a small amount of ozone is emitted from the machine chamber. 

Final Thoughts on Ozone

We could not live without ozone. However, its risks when introduced to the ground atmosphere must be considered to help protect life. If you’ve ever encountered urban smog, you’ve seen what it looks like when ozone concentrations get out of hand. 

At Airbotx, we harness UV-C technology to effectively deodorize and disinfect without the risk of high ozone exposure, so you can breathe safer and breathe easier.

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