What Does Ozone Smell Like?
Ozone or also known by it’s scientific name, Trioxygen (molecular oxygen that contains a highly reactive third atom) has a sharp, unmistakeably disinfectant smell
that is reminiscent of bleach or chlorine. It is often marketed as a “Fresh after a Thunderstorm Smell” because of its production from lightning, but ozone in a confined space is much more pungent.
There has been a lot of controversy in the past about air purifiers creating ozone and whether or not ozone is dangerous.
Air purifiers come in different types with different technologies.
Some only filter air where as some would be considered a treatment for air.
Filtering air purifiers create zero ozone, either as a air cleaning mechanism or as a by product.
But other air purifiers use electricity to create ions ions that make the pollution in the air too heavy to float. These are typically called ionic or ionizers.
This type of air purifier does create ozone as a byproduct.
If you have an air purifier and you do not know if it creates ozone or not, there are a couple of indicators that you can easily look for yourself.
1.What Does Ozone Smell Like In An Air Purifier?
The smell of ozone from an air purifier has an antiseptic or bleach smell.
Even though it is generally advertised an “after a thunderstorm fresh smell“,
Strong ozone from an air purifier can be very pungent.
After all, ozone dissipation happens a lot easier outdoors in nature than it does in your living room.
Regardless of how strong the smell of ozone coming from the air purifier is, it will be noticeable. It is very unlikely that you will miss it.
On the flip side
If you smell your air purifier and there is no smell other than the general smell of plastic and adhesives, then your air purifier is more than likely not an ionizer.
2. Blue Light
The second way you can find out whether your air purifier creates ozone or not is there is generally a blue ultraviolet light shining from it somewhere.
Some UV lights do not create enough ozone for the smell to be noticeable.
Should you use your air purifier if you find out it creates ozone?
Ozone is a very effective air cleaning technology. Used properly, an ozone generator can completely eliminate stubborn odors like century-old third hand cigarette and pipe tobacco smoke.
Bacteria and viruses cannot survive in the face of ozone.
But, in the same way that ozone will completely oxidize every bit of air pollution in its way, it can also oxidize your lung tissue.
That makes it very dangerous to breathe. Especially if you have a pre-existing health condition like asthma.
So you are saying no. Do not use it, right?
No I am not saying that.
But you should absolutely not use ozone improperly.
You wouldn’t set your house on fire to warm your hands. And you wouldn’t step into a bathtub holding a hair dryer.
But yet, you use fire and electricity every single day in almost everything you do.
Ozone Generator Best Practices
Professionals who use ozone generators know that there are two rules if they must abide by in order to get the best result from ozone and stay safe from it too.
- they never operate an ozone generator in an occupied room. This includes people, animals, and plant life.
- they always allow for the ozone to completely dissipate before using the area again.
So why would an air purifier that creates ozone be different than a outright ozone generator?
Of course it’s the volume of ozone that is generated.
But does that mean because it’s a low volume of ozone let it can be breathed?
Use the same analogy with fire and electricity.
Will a little fire still burn you? Yes
Will a little electricity still shock you? Yes again.
So it is not the fact that ozone is being generated that is the problem.
It is the way that ozone is used and approached that is the problem.
Air purifiers that create ozone as a by-product are still ozone generators.
Since an ozone generator should not be used in an occupied room, it only stands to reason that an air purifier that creates ozone should be used in a like manner.
After all isn’t the complaint by the EPA referring to companies who knowingly sold ozone generators as domestic air cleaners without warning consumers about the dangers of ozone, even suggesting that there is no harm that can be had from them?
There is a simple rule that you can apply to home air purification:
- If it is strictly a filtering air purifier then it can be set and left on with no problems or dangers.
- But if it is an electronic ionizer, it should be left alone to do its thing and then aired out to make sure that no harmful levels ozone remain before using the room again.
You wouldn’t take a chance with electricity or fire, so why take the chance with ozone when there is an easy work around.
If you’re wondering whether you should try an ionizer we’ll just stick to the HEPA filter air purifier,
Let me just say that there is not much that a HEPA filtering air purifier cannot take care of, air pollution wise.
They are very efficient at removing common household allergens like dust mites, pollen, dander, and even spores.
Where the HEPA filter leaves off, there is usually an activated carbon filter to capture the rest , including gases and odors.
And you never have to worry about being exposed to Ozone.
An easy choice.
But on the other hand, ionizers like PCO and plasma can do something that HEPA filters cannot.
They can actually destroy bacteria and viruses. Not just capture them in a filter.
PCO air purifiers not only disinfect the air, they disinfect the surfaces around the air purifier too.
Also ionizers are filterless air purifiers which can save you a bundle in replacement filters.
Thankfully, air purifier manufacturers know all this. That is why most of the latest air purifiers on the market employ both filtering and ionic technologies.
Smart air purifiers are the wave of the future.
Even though Ozone in an air purifier is usually spun as an ” after a thunderstorm fresh smell” , Strong ozone from a air purifier can be very pungent.
After all , ozone dissipation happens a lot easier outdoors in nature than it does in your living room.