Ozone generators are air cleaners that restoration and remediation professionals use. Their primary use is to deodorize, disinfect, and remove unwanted VOCs and airborne particles from the air. On the surface, they may sound similar to air scrubbers. Ozone generators, however, are quite different.
Health risk warning: Ozone is a toxin that can be hazardous. Therefore, always read the manufacturer’s instructions when using an ozone generator and never use one in a closed space.
What is ozone?
You’ve likely heard of ozone before in context of the earth’s ozone layer. The ozone layer is high above the earth and protects us all from the sun’s dangerous UV radiation. Oxygen in the air we breathe is made up of two oxygen atoms. Ozone, on the other hand, is made up of three oxygen atoms. And, on the surface, ozone is more dangerous. It is toxic and can harm people and animals.
It is also effective at killing mold, mildew and bacteria as well as removing some odors from the air.
As the name eludes to, these devices intentionally create the toxin ozone. Oxygen, or O2 is made up of two oxygen atoms. Ozone, or O3, is made up of three oxygen atoms. While oxygen is very stable, ozone is not. The third oxygen atom can attach itself to some substances, altering their composition.
What do ozone generators do?
Professionals use ozone generators to kill mold, mildew, odors and bacteria. Commercial users often use the terms ‘shock’, ‘shocking’ or ‘blasting’ for ozone treatments. Professionals enlist them for mold remediation, renovation and restoration work.
Manufacturers sell them to consumers, calling them air cleaners, air ionizers, air purifiers, disinfectants or deodorizers. For our purposes we will be concentrating on industrial and commercial use. This use requires high concentrations of ozone, and should only be undertaken when the space is unoccupied.
While many mold treatment methods require physical contact with mold spores, ozone can travel through the air and porous materials. Since high concentrations of ozone kills mold permanently, ozone generators are commonplace for mold remediation contractors. Used in conjunction with quality commercial dehumidifiers and air scrubbers, the three tools are an effective mold remedy.
Smoke Smell and Odor Removal
Removing the smell of tobacco or fire smoke is a task ozone generators excel at. They are also adept at removing other smells from indoor spaces. By changing the composition of smoke and other odorous molecules, their pungent smell dissipates.
How do ozone generators work?
To create ozone, ozone generators break oxygen molecules apart.
First, oxygen is drawn into the unit, breaking some of the oxygen molecules apart. This is done by one of two processes, either silent corona discharge or ultraviolet radiation. Oxygen molecules are made up of two oxygen atoms.
Next, the two individual oxygen atoms attach to other oxygen molecules. This process creates O3, or ozone.
Finally, when ozone, or trioxygen, comes into contact with an odorous molecule, the extra oxygen atom can break off and attach itself to the molecule. This process changes the chemical makeup of the odorous molecule. As an entirely different compound, the molecule loses the smell it once had.
Use in mold remediation and renovation
Its important to understand what role an ozone generator plays in a mold remediation project.
- Kill mold spores in enclosed spaces
- Kill surface mold on any material they reach
- Destroy odors as opposed to masking them
Ozone generators do not…
- Remove dead mold from the environment
- Treat the source of a mold infestation
- Remove dust or particulates from the air