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Aqueous Ozone Safety

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Aqueous Ozone Versus Ozone Gas

When talking about ozone safety, it’s important to distinguish between ozone gas, which is a UV-protective chemical found in its highest concentrations in one of the upper layers of the atmosphere, and aqueous ozone (AO), which is a sanitizing agent that kills harmful microbes. Most of this discussion will focus on aqueous ozone, which is less well understood by the public but is safe for use on food, for human and animal consumption, and in commercial and personal applications.

Ozone Does Good for People and Planet

Ozone (O3) is a potent oxidizing chemical with high reactivity. This reactivity makes it beneficial in the ozone layer of the stratosphere, where it works to protect plants, animals, and the environment from overexposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. In fact, when we worry about ozone, we usually worry about the depletion of the ozone layer rather than about overexposure. The ozone layer filters out some of the UV radiation that both causes genetic mutations and can also lead to global climate instability. The ozone layer must remain intact to provide these benefits.

Aqueous ozone has the same potent reactivity as gaseous ozone and has the advantage of the controlled application. Aqueous ozone is targeted directly at surfaces that need cleaning or sanitizing through a controlled stream of water. It is used commercially and by individuals as a cleaner, deodorizer, sanitizer, and preservative in a variety of contexts.

Like Many Other Substances, Ozone is Safe in the Right Context

We don’t usually worry about ozone overexposure. However, too much of a good thing can sometimes cause harm. Gaseous ozone in the stratosphere is beneficial at high concentrations because this ozone doesn’t contact humans directly, but it filters out harmful UV radiation. Gaseous ozone in the troposphere, the lowest layer of the atmosphere and the layer that contains the air we breathe, does not encounter sensitive lung tissue and is safe for contact with skin and mucous membranes.

Safety of Aqueous Ozone

Aqueous Ozone has a Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS) designation by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that a panel of experts has reviewed sufficient data to conclude that aqueous ozone can be applied directly to food products without endangering consumers. Ozone does not need to be rinsed after application to food or surfaces. Humans and animals can consume aqueous ozone, even directly, without harm.

There are two reasons to trust the safety of aqueous ozone. First, ozone is present at such small concentrations (only a few parts per million at maximal strength) that it cannot possibly react with enough human or animal cells to substantially affect them. The human body has trillions of cells, which means that an army of human cells protects us from any substantial reaction with low-concentration aqueous ozone. Secondly, aqueous ozone is an effective antimicrobial agent only because it kills bacteria, viruses, and other unicellular or structurally simple organisms that can be affected by a chemical reaction to a single cell.

Enozo products create safe and effective aqueous ozone on-demand using a patented Active Diamond Electrolytic Process Technology™ (ADEPT™) technology. With ADEPT technology, Enozo concentrates the ozone it generates into the water stream that will be used directly as an antimicrobial solution, versus technologies that rely on making a high concentration of ozone gas or that transfer gaseous ozone to water by using tanks, injectors or bubblers.
Author | Xu Simon, PhD, MBA

Author | Xu Simon, PhD, MBA

Enozo Chief Technology Officer