Activated oxygen, otherwise known as ozone, functions in the upper atmosphere by blocking harmful ultraviolet radiation from permeating the planet. Closer to the earth’c surface, ozone is a purifier and sanitizer of the air we breathe In 2001, the FDA approved the use of ozone as an anti-microbial cleansing agent for food treatment, storage and processing.
O3 is an unstable gas with a pleasant odor that is produced naturally when ultraviolet rays from the sun come into contact with oxygen in the atmosphere. It can also be created by a method known as “corona discharge”, or electrically-charged oxygen. It can not be manufactured and then shipped to consumers, nor bottled and stored. It has a lifespan of only a few minutes before converting back to oxygen Ultraviolet light or electricity break down the oxygen molecule into two single oxygen atoms, each of which quickly attach to two more oxygen atoms (O2). It is an unstable gas whose half-life is approximately 30 minutes. While stable, the third oxygen molecule fights to break free, destroying polluting organic molecules by “oxidizing” them. The third oxygen atom attaches, eliminating pollutants, effectively disinfecting and deodorizing.
O3 is commonly misunderstood by the general public because they confuse it with smog and air pollution. Quite the opposite is in fact the case, with nature producing O3 to eliminate air pollution. Without it, our air would become fatally toxic. This misunderstanding can be traced to the fact that ozone is often used as a ground level air quality indicator as it is easy to detect and measure. Urban areas produce large amounts of polluting chemical compounds from burning hydrocarbons in vehicles, factories and power plants. Unfortunately, society produces pollution faster than nature can neutralize it, and it stays in the lower atmosphere. The sun’s ultraviolet rays interact with hydrocarbons to create ozone, but since it is heavier than air, it can get mixed up within the pollution it is fighting to sterilize. The bigger the city, the larger the pollution output, and nature ends up fighting a losing battle. Ozone is an easily detectable gas, and serves as an indicator for the level of pollution rather than being pollution itself. Ozone is safe to use and has many applications such as air purification, water purification, deodorization and food sanitation.
Negative Ions (O-) function as cleaning agents. They are single oxygen atoms that have to gain extra electrons. A negative ion is a charged particle in the air that is formed in nature when enough energy acts upon a molecule that ejects an electron from itself and quickly attach to a nearby molecule which then becomes a negatively charged ion. They clean the air by causing allergens like pollen, dust, mold spores, bacteria and other harmful particles floating in the air to stick together and form clusters. The clusters become heavy and fall to earth where they can be swept up or vacuumed instead of remaining in the air to be breathed.
While both O3 and O- are nature’s cleaning agents, they function differently. O- is effective in removing pollen, dust, mold spores and other harmful particles from the air. O3 is effective in removing pollutants and odors, and killing microbes like bacteria, mold and viruses. O- half-lives are much quicker than O3, allowing O3 to be the more effective purifier.