Combating Viruses - The Benefits of Activated Oxygen (Ozone)
The air we breathe is often considered an essential basic that we rely on without knowing why. We scrub our hands, we sterilize our doorknobs and kitchen surfaces, but we hardly ever think about cleaning the air we breathe. Yet this air contains hundreds of different substances, both harmful and beneficial, and can play a major part in the spread of airborne viruses such as the novel coronavirus.
What does it mean to sanitize the air? Spraying Clorox won’t do anyone any good. Air purifiers may be a better route, and better yet air purifiers that use activated oxygen have one very important thing going for them: the free O- (oxygen atom) produced by ozone is a strong antiviral and can combat any virus molecule it encounters.
Activated Oxygen: A Basic Introduction
Activated oxygen is similar to the ordinary oxygen you breathe every day, with just one structural difference. Each molecule contains three oxygen atoms, not two. That one difference is enough to drastically change the chemical properties of this gas. Ozone is inherently unstable, and it rapidly degenerates into diatomic O2—the air we breathe—and free oxygen atoms.
This is where the cleansing action begins, since these free oxygen atoms are highly reactive and will oxidize almost anything they come in contact with: bacteria, viruses, and mold spores, for example.
Activated oxygen is not a pollutant, and it remains in the air for only a very transient amount of time. It is a naturally occurring gas, and is created in the upper atmosphere when O2 (oxygen) reacts with ultraviolet rays from the sun.
Ozone, Meet Virus. Virus, Meet Ozone.
Viruses are tiny, independent particles, usually about 20-400 nanometers in size. Compare that to bacteria, which typically boast a 1000 nm diameter. A virus is always pathogenic: they are only able to reproduce and multiply when they’re in a host cell. Viruses have a DNA/RNA strand, but they don’t contain a cell wall; instead, the single or double strand of genetic material is protected by an outer protein coat.
Although viruses need a host to replicate, they can typically survive for hours, days, and even weeks on surfaces and tiny respiratory droplets in the air. Every virus has different tolerance levels. The rhinovirus, which cases the common cold, survives for less than an hour on surfaces. In contrast, the norovirus--- responsible for some viral stomach upsets—can survive for weeks. If you can’t wait for a virus to die off or deactivate, ozone can be used to deactivate and destroy it.
When an ozone molecule meets a virus, it diffuses through the protein coat in to the nucleic acid core, damaging the virus’s RNA. Ozone at high concentrations can also completely destroy the virus’s capsid, its exterior protein shell, by a process of oxidation.
Sanitizing the Air: Ozone Air Purifiers
Since ozone is highly reactive, you can’t bottle it up and store it in your kitchen cupboard to use when you want to do some deep cleansing. It has to be generated on-site. The best way to do that is with an ozone air purifier: a special machine designed to produce ozone in safe amounts.
These machines work by passing a very strong current through oxygen. It’s the same process that happens in the atmosphere when a bolt of lightning strikes the air, leaving ozone in its wake. The more controlled process inside the air purifier has the same result, and ozone is distributed into the room’s air.
Ozone air purifiers are used in hospitals, hotels, business and homes. They are effective at odor control, and the ozone can disable bacteria and mold as well as viruses. Since it leaves no harmful residue, activated oxygen is an environmentally friendly disinfectant. That said, ozone can irritate the throat and lungs, and industrial ozone air purifiers aren’t meant to be run on a continuous basis. That’s why many home ozone air purifiers have automatic settings which shut off ozone production after a specified amount of time, usually between 45 minutes to an hour. Some even able to run continuously due to producing low, however, effective levels of ozone.
How to Use an Ozone Air Purifier
Modern home ozone air purifiers all differ, however, these guidelines should apply to the majority of them. If your ozone-equipped air purifier has a separate button for ozone generation, please locate it. Turn your machine on and press the ozone button. Wait for the machine to do its job, and before you know it, it will clean and sanitize your air! By the time the air purifier’s ozone generation cycle turns off it allows all the ozone generated to dissipate and be converted back to diatomic oxygen; the oxygen you breathe.
If you have a fan or A/C, keep it running to allow for better circulation. As an extra bonus, you’ll be purifying the A/C ductwork of mold, mildew, and any stray viruses as well.
When used professionally, activated oxygen air purification can be an effective method of controlling airborne viruses and keeping the air we breathe clean for everyone.
Ozone Air Purifiers Options
There are many options out there for Air Purifiers with Ozone generation, at Advanced Pure Air™, we believe that we offer the best quality at a convenient price. Our Newport ULTRA™, Air Shield®, and newly introduced 5000z all offer the benefits of an air purifier while delivering the sanitation properties of ozone. All feature HEPA filters which are 99.97% effective in capturing and eliminating harmful airborne particulates as small as .03 microns. Additionally, each air purifier contains an activated carbon filter which removes odors and gasses from your air.
The main difference between these machines is the effective area of coverage. They range from 180 sq ft all the way up to 1,200 sq ft.