The pandemic caused by Covid-19 requires a punctual and rigorous professional sanitization in the workplace. For workplaces and professional vehicles intended for medical and non-medical transport, ozone is an efficient sanitizing agent.
The debate about the use of ozone generators is increasingly heated. There is uncertainty, perplexity and fear around those products and devices that do not comply with the relevant European standards and that risk discrediting those that do comply with them. There is still much confusion on the effectiveness of ozone and its possible risks.
In this article we will evaluate the pros and cons of O3 sanitization: we will find out that it can be also used as an effective and safe method to sanitize environments from SARS-CoV-2, as long as it is used in a conscious way, with professional equipment and by trained people.
What is ozone, how and why it sanitizes
Ozone is a natural gas produced by oxygen in the air. It can have several industrial and professional uses for sanitation and purification. It is produced by special devices at the time of use.
The most common way to generate ozone is to split oxygen molecules with electric discharges, creating atoms that recombine with each other to form ozone. In nature, lightning generates ozone in the atmosphere and the consequent characteristic odour that we smell after a storm. The chemical formula of oxygen is O2, while that of ozone is O3. Oxygen is stable but ozone is instable so it tends to spontaneously decompose at room temperature, turning itself back into oxygen.
Ozone is able to sanitize the air, objects and surfaces. Being a gas, it spreads into the environment starting from its source of emission, also penetrating into tissues. Thanks to its strong oxidizing capacity, ozone “destroys” the cells it attacks and eliminates bacteria, viruses, moulds, fungi and any pathogenic and infectious agent.
Is ozone dangerous?
Ozone is dangerous for the human body if it subjected to the same oxidizing action used to fight pathogens. Ozone sanitization must be done in the absence of people. This can be considered as an advantage if you consider that manual disinfection requires much time as well as a dedicated operator.
Once sanitization is complete, just ventilate the environment for a few minutes so that the ozone turns back into oxygen without leaving residues. The time required to sanitize depends on the quantity of O3 produced and the dimensions of the environment. There are also catalyst devices that accelerate the conversion of ozone into oxygen.
As regards the interaction with materials, ozone is potentially corrosive because of its oxidizing power, therefore its use must be evaluated at each time. However, if used in the right concentration and for the appropriate time as a sanitizer for environments, it does not appear to have a more aggressive or more immediate deteriorating effect than other disinfection methods.
Does ozone eliminate SARS-CoV-2?
In the initial phase of the 2020 pandemic, there was no scientific evidence on the real effectiveness of ozone against SARS-CoV-2 despite its presumed virucidal action, given its use as a sanitizer in other contexts. In July 2020, the Italian Istituto Superiore di Sanità and the INAIL recognized ozone as a sanitizing agent in the workplace, recalling the precautions to be taken during the procedure. For more information.
A recent scientific study
Today we know that ozone is efficient for the sanitization of environments and surfaces contaminated by SARS-CoV-2. A very recent publication by the School of Mechanical Engineering of Tel Aviv University, in collaboration with the Faculty of Medicine of the Bar Ilan University of Safed, proved its effectiveness.
The study was conducted on pseudo-viruses and on various commonly used surfaces. Ozone has proven effective: “Viral infection decreased by 95% following ozone exposure for 20 minutes at 1000 ppmv, 30 minutes at 100 ppmv and about 40 minutes at 30 ppmv”. Furthermore, the researchers highlighted the ozone power to disinfect even the most difficult-to-reach air and surfaces, compared to other liquid-based disinfection methods: “… the advantage of ozone over liquid disinfectants by showing similar viral disinfection on top, side, bottom, and interior surfaces “.
Ozone generators: which one to choose?
It is fundamental that your ozone generator is tested and certified, suitable for specific use in the environment or for different types of vehicles.
The features to consider when purchasing the ozone generator are:
- the presence of an integrated sensor to control the amount of ozone produced and released into the environment, to ensure both the achievement of the concentration necessary for sanitation and the safety of the operators in the environment;
- the possibility of personalized sanitation programs according to the space and time available;
- remote management to completely reduce the risk for operators;
- report certifying that the sanitation session has been completed successfully.
- In case of use in a vehicle, it is essential that the fixation has a 10g certification as per the EN1789 standard.
It is also fundamental to train the operators on the main notions about ozone – its use and risk – and the specific and hands-on knowledge of the ozone generators to use.
In conclusion, ozone sanitization is not suitable for common, domestic or DIY use, but it is a valuable tool in professional environments with resources having skills for a correct and safe use.
Discover O3Z-Tech by Stem.
Discover O3Z-Tech by Stem.
Ozone generator for professional vehicles with exclusive features