If you’ve been researching ozone generators for any extent of time, then I’m sure you’ve heard at least one person say how they’re dangerous.
But how dangerous are ozone generators?
Ozone generating machines are hazardous to people, animals, plants, and electronics. Due to the dangers of ozone, it is advised that you only operate ozone generators in vacant buildings.
Long story short, humans, animals, plants, and electronics should be removed from rooms prior to turning on an ozone generator. If you can move it out of the room, do so. Long-term exposure to ozone, in particular, is known to cause issues.
The EPA and OSHA both have recommended levels for ozone exposure. Here’s what the EPA advises “The existing primary and secondary standards, established in 2015, are 0.070 parts per million (ppm), as the fourth-highest daily maximum 8-hour concentration, averaged across three consecutive years.” And here’s what OSHA advises, “The permissible exposure limit (PEL) is listed in Table Z-1 as an 8-hour, time-weighted average value of 0.1 part of ozone per million parts of air (ppm).”
As I’m sure you’re aware of, .07 parts per million and .1 parts per million are REALLY low concentrations of ozone. And, as I’m sure you can put together, ozone generators can increase the level of ozone in a room far beyond the recommended safe level. As such, remaining in a room that has an ozone generator in operation can be dangerous to your health.
So, What is Ozone and Why is it Dangerous?
Ozone is a compound that is made up of three oxygen molecules, these three molecules are very reactive, and that is where the danger of ozone lies. Since ozone is so reactive, it can damage any surface that it comes into contact with, including one’s eyes, lungs, and throat.
But it’s made of oxygen, it can’t be that bad, right?
Well, the oxygen we breathe is made up of two oxygen molecules. Those molecules are “happy” because they’ve got a strong link that has to do with chemistry and whatnot. Ozone, on the other hand, is a lot more reactive because the oxygen molecules “don’t like” having three in one molecule. The reason why I have happy and don’t like in quotation marks is because it’s an atom and doesn’t have actual feelings. It’s just a way to show what I’m talking about.
Anyhows, because the ozone molecule wants to break up and have a normal O2 and get rid of the third wheel, it will do so. Problem is, that third-wheel oxygen molecule that’s getting dumped isn’t going to stay single. It’ll find another molecule to join up with, and, as I said earlier, that’s the danger of ozone.
The danger of ozone reacting with everything it can is that people, animals, plants, and electronics are all made up of molecules that can be reacted with. When that happens, those tissues, components, and whatever else the ozone reacts with, is changed. When these changes happen to living creatures and electronics, that change is damaging.
This damage is especially negative for babies, children, and people with sensitive respiratory systems.
But, here’s something that’s interesting. That dangerous ozone is dangerous to things that you might want to get rid of as well, that’s why people still make ozone generators. Ozone can kill pests, rodents, and even mold! That’s pretty stinking cool, especially when you aren’t in the same room as the ozone! (A joke. Hahaha)
In addition to that, low levels of ozone (like, really low) can be helpful to sanitize things, like air and water. Again, the fact that ozone damages and kills stuff comes with its own benefits.
Is it Safe to Use an Ozone Generator in My Home?
So, if ozone is so dangerous, is it safe to have it in your home? Will it kill you? Will the Earth catch fire? Will the Universe end!?
Believe it or not, lots of people own ozone generators in their homes. I actually had one long before I started this air purifier blog.
And I’ll admit that I had no idea that ozone was dangerous. I’ll also admit that I really liked the smell and I spent lots of time in the same room as where the ozone generator was running.
I didn’t die.
But that isn’t to say that it didn’t cause any damage. Once again, ozone is a dangerous thing and the damage it causes is on the molecular level. You probably won’t see the damage it does, you might not even notice any pain or irritation, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.
So, should you get an ozone generator for your home?
Personally, I’d say no. There aren’t a lot of good reasons to have one, even though I like mine and use it from time to time to get rid of odors. However, I’ve since discovered that your normal, everyday air purifier with an activated carbon filter does wonders at removing odors as well. On top of that, if I’m worried about germs and want ozone to kill them, that’s where an air purifier’s sanitizer comes into play. And, finally, if I’m worried about mold, I could just get a dehumidifier and drop my home’s humidity to the point that mold doesn’t grow.
Long story short, most of the stuff that an ozone generator can do can be done with other machines. Machines that won’t hurt you, I might add.
(Fun fact, you can’t buy an ozone generator in California. They banned them for residential use because of the dangers.)
But that isn’t to say that you can’t run an ozone generator in your home, if you know what to do with one, you can enjoy the benefits of them like me! However, I must point out that I literally use my ozone generator like once a year max. I use my other air purifiers and whatnot just about every single day, all day. (With the exception of my humidifier, which I only bring out in the winter when humidity drops really low.)
Should I Buy an Ozone Generator?
Honestly, I don’t see the point in buying an ozone generator for like 99% of people. Most people don’t understand the challenges and dangers, and that’s a big problem. On top of that, every government agency I’ve looked at has a long list of cautions when they talk about ozone generators.
On top of that, there is actually some disagreement when it comes to the science behind ozone generators, how they work, if they’re of any use, and a lot more things like that. Additionally, the EPA has spent lots of time refuting claims made by companies that try to sell ozone generators. It seems those companies are fighting an uphill battle to get their machines to market and that’s something that could be a red flag for people.
As I said previously, I think air purifiers do an amazing job and they take care of most everything that you’d actually need taken care of when it comes down to air quality. Sure, there might be a few occurrences where an ozone generator may be necessary, but there are companies that specialize in using ozone generators and they would be more than willing to treat your home.
Save yourself the hassle, just get an air purifier. (Besides, they’re usually a lot cheaper than ozone generators anyways!)
If you’d like to see the official list of recommended air purifiers from Air Purifier Essentials, then please check out this list of air purifiers that I’m constantly updating: Air Purifier Essentials Top Picks: Best HEPA Air Purifiers on the Market. In addition to being a great resource, some of the items on the list have special discounts and coupon codes that you can’t get elsewhere! Go on, check it out!
Related articles: What Are Air Purifiers with Ozone Generators?