Good Ozone Vs. Bad Ozone

good ozone versus bad ozone

Isn’t ozone bad for you? If I breathe in ozone will I get sick? Isn’t it smog? We are posed these questions often in our industry and they are viable ones. We’ll begin by talking about the ozone most of us are familiar with….the ozone layer.

Good Ozone

Most of us equate the word “Ozone” with the ozone layer, which is in the stratosphere protecting the Earth from the harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation emitted from the sun – more accurately, UVB radiation which is related to the cause of skin cancer. The production of ozone occurs when oxygen (O2) rises to the upper atmosphere and is exposed to the sun’s UV rays. The UV rays then split the oxygen molecule into two separate (O1) atoms. The (O1) atom being very unstable combines with an (O2) molecule to form ozone (O3).

Unfortunately, the ozone layer is becoming depleted due to human activities or man-made substances. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S., in cooperation with 190 other countries, is phasing out the production of ozone-depleting substances in an effort to safeguard the ozone layer. Depletion of the ozone layer ozone poses serious health risks for humans and environmental hazards for the planet, and many nations have banned or limited the use of chemicals that contribute to ozone depletion.

Bad Ozone

“Bad” ozone is formed when the carbon dioxide given off by cars and power plants react with sunlight. Those chemicals are a mixture of nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), methane (CH4) and carbon monoxide (CO). The result is smog – the air pollution that we see and smell. Most “smog” reports contribute high levels of ozone as smog, but it is a common fallacy that ozone is smog. Ozone is not smog. Smog is caused mainly by automobile emissions and is the greatest source of airborne pollutants in many large cities today; where as ozone is not a component of smog, but rather mother-natures way of eliminating it.

As components of smog (NOx and VOC’s) increase so do the levels of ozone to combat our negative impact to the atmosphere. When smog levels are usuallysmog car discussed, ozone is the component that is targeted because it is relative to the smog conditions and is much easier to measure than the other components that form smog. This is the reason that ozone has long been used to indicate smog conditions and the reason why most people view ozone as “bad.”

ClearWater Tech Ozone

When ozone is produced for water and or air purification it is done so within specific design requirements and parameters. ClearWater Tech ozone systems incorporate vacuum and/or pressure switch interlocks, thermal overload fail-safe devices, and other electrical interlocks that can be used to remotely shutdown ozone production. These interlocks can be connected to ambient air ozone gas detectors that would shutdown the ozone production if ambient air conditions exceed established and acceptable limits set forth by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S.E.P.A.) or the United States Food and Drug Administration (U.S.F.D.A.).

Effects of Ozone

Is ozone bad for you? During more than 100 years of varied commercial applications (i.e., drinking water, waste water, swimming pools, etc.), the safety record of ozone is unsurpassed. There has never been a reported fatality linked to the exposure of ozone anywhere in the world as a result of its generation and application. The known effects of ozone are most often recorded as ozone gas acting as an irritant affecting the upper respiratory system causing a shortness of breath, coughing, and drying out the eyes. Some people who are exposed to gaseous ozone experience headaches, which usually fade away rapidly after moving that person to fresh air. Fresh air or oxygen (in extreme cases) are the primary first aid measures taken in cases of ozone exposure.

Ozone Graph
This incredible safety record of ozone is attributed largely to the fact that those who manufacture ozone generators and ozonation equipment recognized early on that the strong oxidizing and disinfection properties of this unique gas must be controlled. Operators of ozone and ozonation equipment must not be exposed to ozone that might leak or escape from the closed environments of its production and application. Responsible ozone manufactures incorporate all the safe guards necessary to provide a safe work place.

– Authored by Juli Watt, Marketing Communications, ClearWater Tech, LLC

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What Materials are Compatible with Ozone?

Since ozone is the strongest oxidizing agent currently available for the treatment of potable water, extreme caution should be taken when considering what materials should be used in conjunction with your ozone system installation. Everything that comes in contact with ozone, such as piping, valves, gaskets or pumps, should all be carefully selected based on durability, reliability, and more importantly, resistance to ozone.

Most natural and synthetic rubbers and many plastics cannot be used as seals, gaskets or o-rings because they may become brittle and crack.

Below is a list of materials* that are compatible with the use of ozone:





304L Stainless Steel ABS Plastic Acetal (Delrin®) Buna-N (Nitrile)
316L Stainless Steel Aluminum Cast Iron Magnesium
Butyl Brass Hytrel® Natural Rubber
Ceramic Bronze Monel NORYL®
Chem-Rez Copper Neoprene Nylon
CPVC LDPE Polypropylene PPS (Ryton®)
Durachlor-51 Polyacrylate Polypropylene Polyamide (PA)
Durlon 9000 Polyethylene Steel (Mild, HSLA)
ECTFE (Halar®) Polysulfide Zinc
EPDM (up to 100° F) PVC
EPR Teflon® Tape
ETFE (Teflon®) Tygon®
Ethylene-Propylene Vacum
Flexelene® Viton®
Kalrez® (up to 100° F)
Kel-F 2800 (PCTFE)
PTFE (Teflon®)
PVDF (Kynar®)
*Ozone Solutions. "Material Compatibility of Ozone".  N.D.

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