Businesses, institutions, and consumers have grown in awareness of the health benefits of ultraviolet germicidal (UV-C) light, but UV can also reduce damage caused by fire and smoke.
Most UV bulbs and fixtures installed to combat COVID-19 and other pathogens emit little or no ozone. They do not generate enough ozone to reach limits harmful to human health or damage materials.
However, UV devices that emit both germicidal light and generate ozone are available from some of the same manufacturers of regular UVC equipment. These ozone-generating devices can help remove smoke odor from fire-damaged buildings and objects.
What Can Ozone Help With?
Ozone generating UVC equipment is often used by professional restoration contractors to remove smoke odor after a fire. They can also be used to remove odors from water damage or other applications that can generate unpleasant odors.
The following is a list of potentially smelly locations where ozone generators may be used.
- Fire/Smoke remediation
- Water damage
- Mold/allergen odors
- Animal containment/treatment areas like kennels
- Cooking areas, restaurants, food processing
- Industrial/commercial manufacturing
- Crawl spaces
- Vehicles - boats, RVs, cars
- Athletic facilities, gynmasiums, locker rooms
- Temporary residences, hotels/motels
These locations are high-risk areas for odor buildup. In the case of fire/water damage, odors can build up rapidly. In other cases, usage over time will result in odor buildup.
Materials Damaged by Ozone
While ozone can help remove odors, it also carries risks. The following is a list of materials potentially damaged by ozone.
- Certain plastics
- Certaint textiles
Professional restoration experts can mitigate this damage by controlling for temperature, humidity, and treatment time.
How UV Ozone Generators Work
The UVC light emitted by ultraviolet ozone generators can kill mold and fungus that are the source of some odors. Especially in water-damaged areas, the extra moisture becomes a breeding ground for harmful pathogens. Ultraviolet germicidal bulbs emit light that is lethal to these microbes, killing the source of some of the odor.
UVC light bulbs peak at 253.7nm, which is in the germicidal range and very close to the max germicidal wavelength.
Ozone generating UV bulbs have a second peak around 185nm, which creates the ozone molecules (O3).
Ozone molecules react chemically with particles that they come into contact with, changing the structure of the molecules that are the source of the odors.
When the ozone molecule interacts with the odor-producing particle, a new molecule is created that does not smell. This process is known as "oxidation."
Ozone Harmful to Humans
Above certain thresholds, ozone is harmful to humans, potentially causing lung damage. Ultraviolet ozone generators should only be used in unoccupied spaces.
Once clothes, furniture, and other materials are treated with ozone, however, they are then safe to use again.
And as with ultraviolet disinfection, ultraviolet odor-reduction does not use dangerous chemicals or create residues on materials that are treated with this technology.
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