With the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis, new weapons are emerging to combat the virus. Or, at least, becoming more known in the face of this war against the virus. We are talking about ozone and the machines that are capable of producing and expelling it. They are known as ozone cannons or ozonifiers . However, they are not the only options currently on the market to ensure that we clean the environment of our house or disinfect a space. In fact, you should know the fine print of all these options to know what it is that you put in your house and with what you risk your health.
It is the most famous option of the moment. And is that his name does not stop running between headlines and news from all over Spain. What if a consistory has been made with x cannons to disinfect certain places. Or that if the neighbor next door or, more likely your brother-in-law, has taken a small ozone device to disinfect the shopping bags. Well, be very careful with these devices because ozone is still a toxic gas for humans .
Domestic version of the ozonator
Yes, putting three oxygen atoms together to form ozone (O3) is a great sanitizing measure. Says the World Health Organization itself, where he recommends the use of ozone to disinfect water, for example. Thanks to its oxidation capacity and it does not leave residues as it quickly converts into oxygen, it is a great option. Therefore it is being used with specific applications in specific places. The jet of ozone air that these machines expel sanitizes the area it reaches. And it does it instantly. Both the environment and the surface on which it lands. Of course, if the ozone jet is not taken to the corners it reaches a limited space, finally settling on the surfaces but not reaching every corner. So far so good. But does it make any sense to buy one of these cannons to put at home?
The answer is no. Ozone is still a toxic gas for humans. And this is also said by the WHO. Avoid places with a concentration greater than 100 μg / m3 (micragrams per cubic meter) . Since there are many studies that have proven that if this measure is exceeded for more than 8 hours, ozone can be harmful to health. Something that especially affects people who have respiratory problems. And, surely, protecting these people is the main reason why you want to buy one of these devices.
As we say, its use has useful practical applications. Cars can be disinfected, which are easily ventilated after cleaning. Or even closed places. But that ventilation is always necessary to reduce the concentration of ozone in the space that can harm humans . Or wait a certain time until this component is transformed into oxygen and does not pose a danger to our health. It is curious that ozone cannons are freely sold, which shoot jets of up to 500 mg per hour (in the domestic version), but the same is not done with concentration meters to know when a space cleaned with this method is safe again .
In addition, its virtue of cleaning makes sense over time, or with regular treatments . Something that prevents its use in places traveled by people on a daily or regular basis. We could clean a restaurant with an ozone cannon, for example, which would presumably be free of bad odors, bacteria and also viruses thanks to this gas. However, if a person infected by coronavirus enters, and joins others in that same place, nothing prevents the virus from spreading freely as it has been before. After a treatment with ozone it would leave everything clean again, but it would not have prevented the contagion.
That is why the use of these devices must be limited. If we have a small ozone generator we can disinfect the supermarket bag with the food that is wrapped inside. But we will have to aerate them and then eliminate that ozone . And we must never apply ozone on fresh products without protection, since it is still a natural oxidant that would put these products in poor condition. Again, a system that does not make the usual disinfection with alcohol of the products that we normally buy easier or faster in the case of this confinement. In addition to putting our health at risk if we do not know the properties and dangers of this compound.
In this case, they are not devices with an industrial focus or for professional use, but rather consumer appliances. For homes, go. Its operation does not generate air, but a motor collects air from the environment, circulates it through special filters and then expels it again, with or without a fan, and already clean and without particles of different types.
In the case of these appliances, the key is in the filter. And thanks to it there are models that claim to purify more than 99% of the air in a room (without reaching 100%). That is, they collect any particle larger than 0.3 microns in size . That is, they capture mites, dust, odor particles, bacteria and other components that float in the air at home. They usually have a power that is measured in their ability to clean a closed space. But it is also worth knowing certain questions about it.
Currently the most advanced models have HEPA 14 filters , which claim to trap up to 99.97% of airborne particles . But you always have to look at the fine print or the asterisk. Experts on this topic report on the quality of filters and different brands of air purifiers, which can end up offering a very different experience. Thus, at the lower speed or power levels of these devices, it is possible that the filter is not as effective and that it does not collect and therefore clean the environment as the figures assure. So it is necessary either to increase the power or to make sure of the purchase.
It is advisable to use ULPA filters , which increase the cleaning percentage and are closer to 100%. Although they have a higher cost and are usually found in devices that are focused on areas not so domestic. Having a certified HEPA 14 is a good alternative, with well-known brands that do use them in their devices.
Different types of HEPA and ULPA filters
The ozone is a great desinfectacte , but practical applications are not related to the domestic sphere. For this, an air purifier is more useful, which can coexist in its operation with humans and achieves a similar result. Maybe less clean, but it also eliminates odors, viruses and bacteria.
The big difference is the risk to human health. While purifiers are harmless household appliances, ozone cannons can seriously harm people if not used knowingly .