Did you know that there’s good ozone, and then there’s bad ozone? How does bad ozone affect your health? And what can you do to reduce your exposure in the summer when ozone levels are highest?
Let’s start with good ozone. Good ozone is found high in the atmosphere and protects the Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Which is why the hole in the layer of good ozone above Australia is of concern.
Ground level ozone, on the other hand, is bad ozone. Ozone pollution forms when chemical reactions occur at high temperatures at ground level between nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). NOx and VOCs come from industrial and power generation plants, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors and chemical solvents.
How does ozone affect human health? When we breath ozone, this toxic gas has oxidizing properties that can damage our mucous and respiratory tissues when concentrations are above 50 ppb. Symptoms can range from coughing and chest pain to making conditions like asthma, heart disease, and emphysema worse.
You may, in fact, be breathing bad ozone right now. Ozone health risks range from throat irritation and coughing and wheezing to chest pain and lung diseases such as bronchitis, emphysema, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Everyone is at risk but children, the elderly, people with respiratory disease, and active people are especially susceptible.
How can you reduce exposure to ozone pollution? Here are a few practical tips:
- Don’t exercise outdoors in the mid-afternoon to early evening when ozone levels usually peak.
- Conserve energy and reduce ozone air pollution by setting your thermostat a degree or two higher in the summer.
- Maintain your car, gas-powered lawn mower and garden equipment, boats and other engines in good working condition; this help reduce ground-level ozone.
- Carpool or use public transportation or, better yet, walk or bike when possible.
- Reduce your use of products that contain chemicals like everyday household cleaning agents, garden fertilizers, paints and solvents. And if you use them, be sure to dispose of them properly.
Indoors, oxygen can react with electrical energy from appliances like vacuum cleaners, televisions, laser printers and blenders with powerful electrical motors to produce ozone. Even some electrostatic air purifiers have been linked to creating additional ozone in your home. In 2005, Consumer Reports issued an article about ozone released when using Sharper Image’s Ionic Breeze. This was in addition to earlier reports about the Ionic Breeze being ineffective when it comes to improving indoor air quality.
Ozone air purifier safety
With Blueair products, you can breathe easy, with no increased danger from ozone. That’s because for 20 years, Blueair has been putting our air purifiers through independent tests to ensure that they do not release ozone. In fact, tests have shown that our products can actually lower ozone concentrations, with the ozone concentration in our system’s output air lower than in the incoming air.
The tests are carried out in accordance with the California Air Resource Board (CARB) certification program, the most stringent requirements in the world for air purifiers. Working with Intertek, a CARB accredited test lab, Blueair products undergo a comprehensive series of tests to measure ozone emissions. In these 8-hour-long tests, air purifiers are tested on high and low speed – with and without the filter installed. The Intertek facility features environmental chamber technology, the most trusted and proven scientific method available for testing to see if products produce ozone.
None of the Blueair products tested and investigated produced detectable ozone levels. Not only were Blueair purifiers found to comply with the requirements of the UL Standard 867 Section 37.1.2 criteria for emitting a maximum ozone concentration of less than 0.050 ppm, but also no measurable ozone concentration was detected at all.