Ozone is a potent lung irritant and exposure to elevated levels is a contributor to the exacerbation of lung disease; it is especially dangerous for persons with asthma and other chronic lung diseases, children and the elderly.
American Lung Association (http://www.lungusa.org)
The American Lung Association recently issued a health warning to American consumers regarding the use of ozone generators. They state that people using the devices may be jeopardizing their health and that the American Lung Association considers ozone devices a public health hazard. For more information the Internet site of the American Lung Association can be found at www.lungusa.org. You can also call the American Lung Association at 1-800-lung-usa and request a copy of their brochure entitled “A Guide to Residential Air Cleaning Devices.”
Health Canada has issued an advisory regarding ozone generators which states:
Ottawa — Health Canada is advising the public not to use air cleaners designed to intentionally generate ozone (ozone generators) in their homes. Health Canada is concerned with the adverse effects that may result from the deliberate exposure of the public to ozone from air cleaners that intentionally generate ozone gas. Ozone is an irritant that can cause coughs, chest discomfort, and irritation of the nose and throat. The direct and purposeful generation of ozone indoors should be avoided.
“Following a review of current information and in consultation with Health Canada and others, the Canadian Standards Association recently made the decision not to certify these products for household use and issued the new interim requirements for commercial units.”
“Health Canada advises all owners of ozone generators to stop using them in their homes. Health Canada is working with manufacturers and distributors of air cleaners designed to intentionally generate ozone to voluntarily recall any ozone generators (residential or commercial) sold to consumers for household use.
Health Canada (http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca)
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a paper entitled “Ozone Generators that are sold as Air Cleaners: An Assessment of Effectiveness and Health Consequences.” This can be found at their Internet site http://www.epa.gov. In this 13 page paper they state:
Ozone generators that are sold as air cleaners intentionally produce the gas ozone. Often the vendors of ozone generators make statements and distribute material that lead the public to believe that these devices are always safe and effective in controlling indoor air pollution. For almost a century, health professionals have refuted these claims (Sawyer, et al 1913; Salls, 1927; Boeniger, 1995; American Lung Association, 1997; Al-Ahmady, 1997). The purpose of this document is to provide accurate information regarding the use of ozone generating devices in indoor occupied spaces. This information is based on the most credible scientific evidence currently available.
Some vendors suggest that these devices have been approved by the federal government for use in occupied spaces. To the contrary, NO agency has approved these devices for use in occupied spaces.
The conclusions of the paper are as follows:
Whether in its pure form or mixed with other chemicals, ozone can be very harmful to health. When inhaled, ozone can damage the lungs. Relatively low amounts of ozone can cause chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath and throat irritation. It may worsen chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma as well as compromise the ability of the body to fight respiratory infections.
Some studies show that ozone concentrations produced by ozone generators can exceed health standards even when one follows manufacturer’s recommendations. Available scientific evidence shows that, at concentrations that do not exceed public health standards, ozone is generally ineffective at controlling indoor air pollution.
One of the major marketers of ozone generators, Alpine Industries, has been sued by the Federal Trade Commission for false and deceptive advertising. Alpine signed a consent order in 1995 in which they agreed that they would no longer represent that their devices “effectively eliminate or clean pollutants from indoor air, that the use of ozone is more effective in cleaning or purifying indoor air than other cleaning methods, and that their air cleaning products prevent or provide relief from medical or health-related conditions without competent and reliable scientific evidence to back up these claims.” In 1998 Alpine was sued again by the FTC for continuing to violate this order. In 1999 a Federal Jury found unanimously that Alpine Industries and its President William Converse had violated the order.
In January of 2000 a federal judge ordered Alpine to stop making any claim that their machines provided relief from any medical condition or removed a wide variety of indoor air pollutants. Alpine was also ordered to stop making any claim that the sensor on any of its air cleaning machines is capable of controlling the ambient level of ozone in indoor air. Alpine was required to mail copies of the order to all independent dealers, and all officers, agents and employees of the company and to advise them that they were to make no representation or claim prohibited by the order. Shortly after this Court Order, Alpine sold its marketing operations to Michael Jackson and Ecoquest International.
In April of 2001 the Federal District Court in Tennessee entered a civil penalty judgment for $1,490,000 plus interest and costs against Alpine Industries and William J. Converse. In addition to the judgment the court entered an injunction barring Alpine and Converse from making any claims that the air treatment devices sold by the company remove any pollutant, except “visible” tobacco smoke and some odors. It also barred them from making any of the claims mentioned above. For more information go to http://www.ftc.gov.
In January of 2005 the California Air Resources Board heard evidence from staff members of the dangers of ozone generators. See http://www.arb.ca.gov
These machines are insidious. Marketed as a strong defense against indoor air pollution, they emit ozone, the same chemical that the ARB and the EPA have been trying to eliminate from our air for decades. More chilling is that some people susceptible to the ill effects of ozone will bring these Trojan horses home.”Acting Chairperson Barbara Riordan
In summation, ozone is not a practical, effective, or most importantly, safe means of improving indoor air quality, especially in light of its potentially serious risk to health. Subjective claims of improved indoor air quality may be explained by evidence indicating that ozone may only mask odors or convert some odorous compounds to less odorous but potentially more toxic compounds.