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The Good, the Bad and the Disinfecting: Does Ozone Kill Bacteria?
Monday, April 22, 2019

Ozone gas is a remarkably versatile molecule.

It consists of 3 oxygen atoms and is very reactive, meaning that it often undergoes chemical reactions. In fact, when it interacts with heat, it quickly converts to oxygen gas.

We typically think of ozone as a molecule in the ozone layer. However, there's so much more to ozone than that.

Have you ever wondered, "Does ozone kill bacteria?"

Keep reading to learn about the good, the bad, and the disinfecting properties of ozone.

Ozone Gas

The chemical formula of ozone is O3. The molecule is naturally created in a portion of earth's atmosphere called the stratosphere.

The formation of ozone occurs when sunlight breaks apart an oxygen molecule (O2). These two oxygen atoms then collide with another oxygen atom to form ozone.

Ozone actually forms only 0.000004% of the earth's atmosphere but plays an important role nonetheless.

The Good

Ozone gas in the atmosphere forms an "ozone layer" which protects the planet from harmful sunlight. In particular, the layer filters out harmful UVB radiation. This radiation directly harms skin and causes skin cancer and cataracts.

Although most people think of ozone in a positive light, this is not always the case.

The Bad

Anthropogenic ozone emissions, on the other hand, are often harmful. This ozone is created when chemicals such as nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds react. These reactions occur when air pollutants react in sunlight.

Ozone at ground levels acts as an air pollutant. It forms smog and causes breathing issues and other respiratory ailments.

Does Ozone Kill Bacteria?

Ozone can also be artificially created. Ozonizers and ozone generators are just a few of the machines that generate ozone. These machines can be used as an air and water purifier by destroying bacteria and other toxins.

To make ozone, a high voltage electric current acts as sunlight to convert oxygen gas to ozone.

As mentioned previously, ozone is highly reactive. This means that when exposed to other molecules, it readily reacts. When it comes to disinfecting, the oxidation reaction targets microorganisms and destroys them on contact.

Ozone has been particularly helpful in treating Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA). This bacteria causes infections across the body, and is referred to as a "superbug" because it is highly resistant to most antibiotics. Ozone breaks down the cell walls of the bacteria, destroying it when other treatments fail.

Final Thoughts

Ozone is a multifaceted molecule. When occurring naturally in the atmosphere, it forms an important layer that protects us from harmful UVB radiation. When formed on the ground-level, it acts as an air pollutant and causes respiratory issues.

In this article, we answered the question "Does ozone kill bacteria?" by illustrating that the molecule oxidizes harmful bacteria where other treatment methods fail.

The medical and disinfecting uses of ozone are vast and still being studied today.

For more resources on ozone, air quality, and water quality monitoring, visit our blog today.

From our U.S. headquarters in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, we design, manufacture, and distribute analytical instruments based on electrochemical and optical sensors. We specialize in the areas of toxic gas detection and water quality measurements, continuing to lead the way in development of reliable monitoring systems. Our capabilities in the area of sensor design and manufacture allow us to offer the kind of application support needed for the most demanding applications. In addition, local product support is available through our network of over 50 representatives throughout the U.S. and Canada.

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