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CAS number 10028-15-6 Yes check.svgY
PubChem 24823
ChemSpider 23208
EC-number 233-069-2
RTECS number RS8225000
Molecular formula O3
Molar mass 47.998 g·mol−1
Appearance bluish colored gas
Density 2.144 g/L (0 °C), gas
Melting point

80.7 K, −192.5 °C

Boiling point

161.3 K, −111.9 °C

Solubility in water 0.105 g/100mL (0 °C)
Refractive index (nD) 1.2226 (liquid)
Std enthalpy of
+142.3 kJ·mol−1
Standard molar
237.7 J·K−1.mol−1
EU classification Oxidant (O)
Related compounds
Related compounds sulfur dioxide
 Yes check.svgY (what is this?)  (verify)
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Infobox references

Ozone (O3) is a triatomic molecule, consisting of three oxygen atoms. It is an allotrope of oxygen that is much less stable than the diatomic allotrope (O2). Ozone in the lower atmosphere is an air pollutant with harmful effects on the respiratory systems of animals and will burn sensitive plants; however, the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere is beneficial, preventing potentially damaging ultraviolet light from reaching the Earth's surface. Ozone is present in low concentrations throughout the Earth's atmosphere. It has many industrial and consumer applications.



Ozone, the first allotrope of a chemical element to be recognized, was proposed as a distinct chemical compound by Christian Friedrich Schönbein in 1840, who named it after the Greek verb ozein (ὄζειν, "to smell"), from the peculiar odor in lightning storms.[1][2] The formula for ozone, O3, was not determined until 1865 by Jacques-Louis Soret[3] and confirmed by Schönbein in 1867.[1][4]

Physical properties

Ozone is a pale blue gas, slightly soluble in water and much more soluble in inert non-polar solvents such as carbon tetrachloride or fluorocarbons, where it forms a blue solution. At –112 °C, it condenses to form a dark blue liquid. It is dangerous to allow this liquid to warm to its boiling point, because both concentrated gaseous ozone and liquid ozone can detonate. At temperatures below –193 °C, it forms a violet-black solid.[5]

Most people can detect about 0.01 ppm of ozone in air where it has a very specific sharp odor somewhat resembling chlorine bleach. Exposure of 0.1 to 1 ppm produces headaches, burning eyes, and irritation to the respiratory passages.[6] Even low concentrations of ozone in air are very destructive to organic materials such as latex, plastics, and lungs.

Ozone is diamagnetic, which means that its electrons are all paired. In contrast, O2 is paramagnetic, containing two unpaired electrons.


According to experimental evidence from microwave spectroscopy, ozone is a bent molecule, with C2v symmetry (similar to the water molecule). The O – O distances are 127.2 pm. The O – O – O angle is 116.78°.[7] The central atom is sp² hybridized with one lone pair. Ozone is a polar molecule with a dipole moment of 0.5337 D.[8] The bonding can be expressed as a resonance hybrid with a single bond on one side and double bond on the other producing an overall bond order of 1.5 for each side.

Resonance Lewis structures of the ozone molecule


Ozone is a powerful oxidizing agent, far stronger than O2. It is also unstable at high concentrations, decaying to ordinary diatomic oxygen (with a half-life of about half an hour in atmospheric conditions):[9]

2 O3 → 3 O2

This reaction proceeds more rapidly with increasing temperature and increased pressure. Deflagration of ozone can be triggered by a spark, and can occur in ozone concentrations of 10 wt% or higher.[10]

With metals

Ozone will oxidize most metals (except gold, platinum, and iridium) to oxides of the metals in their highest oxidation state. For example:

2 Cu+ + 2 H3O+ + O3 → 2 Cu2+ + 3 H2O + O2

With nitrogen and carbon compounds

Ozone also oxidatizes nitric oxide to nitrogen dioxide:

NO + O3 → NO2 + O2

This reaction is accompanied by chemiluminescence. The NO2 can be further oxidized:

NO2 + O3 → NO3 + O2

The NO3 formed can react with NO2 to form N2O5:

NO2 + NO3 → N2O5

Solid nitryl perchlorate can be made from NO2, ClO2, and O3 gases:

2 NO2 + 2 ClO2 + 2 O3 → 2 NO2ClO4 + O2

Ozone does not react with ammonium salts but it oxidizes with ammonia to ammonium nitrate:

2 NH3 + 4 O3 → NH4NO3 + 4 O2 + H2O

Ozone reacts with carbon to form carbon dioxide, even at room temperature:

C + 2 O3 → CO2 + 2 O2

With sulfur compounds

Ozone oxidizes sulfides to sulfates. For example, lead(II) sulfide is oxidised to lead(II) sulfate:

PbS + 4 O3 → PbSO4 + 4 O2

Sulfuric acid can be produced from ozone and either elemental sulfur or sulfur dioxide:

S + H2O + O3 → H2SO4
3 SO2 + 3 H2O + O3 → 3 H2SO4

In the gas phase, ozone reacts with hydrogen sulfide to form sulfur dioxide:

H2S + O3 → SO2 + H2O

In an aqueous solution, however, two competing simultaneous reactions occur, one to produce elemental sulfur, and one to produce sulfuric acid:

H2S + O3 → S + O2 + H2O
3 H2S + 4 O3 → 3 H2SO4

Other substrates

All three atoms of ozone may also react, as in the reaction of tin(II) chloride with hydrochloric acid and ozone:

3 SnCl2 + 6 HCl + O3 → 3 SnCl4 + 3 H2O

Iodine perchlorate can be made by treating iodine dissolved in cold anhydrous perchloric acid with ozone:

I2 + 6 HClO4 + O3 → 2 I(ClO4)3 + 3 H2O


Ozone can be used for combustion reactions and combusting gases; ozone provides higher temperatures than combusting in dioxygen (O2). The following is a reaction for the combustion of carbon subnitride which can also cause lower temperatures:

3 C4N2 + 4 O3 → 12 CO + 3 N2

Ozone can react at cryogenic temperatures. At 77 K (−196 °C), atomic hydrogen reacts with liquid ozone to form a hydrogen superoxide radical, which dimerizes:[11]

H + O3 → HO2 + O
2 HO2 → H2O4

Reduction to ozonides

Reduction of ozone gives the ozonide anion, O3 . Derivatives of this anion are explosive and must be stored at cryogenic temperatures. Ozonides for all the alkali metals are known. KO3, RbO3, and CsO3 can be prepared from their respective superoxides:

KO2 + O3 → KO3 + O2

Although KO3 can be formed as above, it can also be formed from potassium hydroxide and ozone:[12]

2 KOH + 5 O3 → 2 KO3 + 5 O2 + H2O

NaO3 and LiO3 must be prepared by action of CsO3 in liquid NH3 on an ion exchange resin containing Na+ or Li+ ions:[13]

CsO3 + Na+ → Cs+ + NaO3

A solution of calcium in ammonia reacts with ozone to give to ammonium ozonide and not calcium ozonide:[11]

3 Ca + 10 NH3 + 6 O3 → Ca·6NH3 + Ca(OH)2 + Ca(NO3)2 + 2 NH4O3 + 2 O2 + H2


Ozone can be used to remove manganese from water, forming a precipitate which can be filtered:

2 Mn2+ + 2 O3 + 4 H2O → 2 MnO(OH)2 (s) + 2 O2 + 4 H+

Ozone will also detoxify cyanides by converting it to cyanate, which is a thousand times less toxic.

CN- + O3CNO + O2

Ozone will also completely decompose urea:[14]

(NH2)2CO + O3 → N2 + CO2 + 2 H2O

Ozone in Earth's atmosphere

The distribution of atmospheric ozone in partial pressure as a function of altitude.
Concentration of ozone as measured by the Nimbus-7 satellite.
Total ozone concentration in June 2000 as measured by EP-TOMS satellite instrument.

The standard way to express total ozone levels (the amount of ozone in a vertical column) in the atmosphere is by using Dobson units. Average concentration at a point is measured in parts per billion (ppb) or in μg/m3.

Ozone layer

The highest levels of ozone in the atmosphere are in the stratosphere, in a region also known as the ozone layer between about 10 km and 50 km above the surface (or between about 6 and 31 miles). Here it filters out photons with shorter wavelengths (less than 320 nm) of ultraviolet light, also called UV rays, (270 to 400 nm) from the Sun that would be harmful to most forms of life in large doses. These same wavelengths are also among those responsible for the production of vitamin D in humans. Ozone in the stratosphere is mostly produced from ultraviolet rays reacting with oxygen:

O2 + photon (radiation < 240 nm) → 2 O
O + O2 → O3

It is destroyed by the reaction with atomic oxygen:

O3 + O → 2 O2

The latter reaction is catalysed by the presence of certain free radicals, of which the most important are hydroxyl (OH), nitric oxide (NO) and atomic chlorine (Cl) and bromine (Br). In recent decades the amount of ozone in the stratosphere has been declining mostly because of emissions of CFCs and similar chlorinated and brominated organic molecules, which have increased the concentration of ozone-depleting catalysts above the natural background. Ozone only makes up 0.00006% of the atmosphere.

Low level ozone

Low level ozone (or tropospheric ozone) is regarded as a pollutant by the World Health Organization[15] and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is not emitted directly by car engines or by industrial operations, but formed by the reaction of sunlight on air containing hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides that react to form ozone directly at the source of the pollution or many kilometers down wind.

Ozone reacts directly with some hydrocarbons such as aldehydes and thus begins their removal from the air, but the products are themselves key components of smog. Ozone photolysis by UV light leads to production of the hydroxyl radical OH and this plays a part in the removal of hydrocarbons from the air, but is also the first step in the creation of components of smog such as peroxyacyl nitrates which can be powerful eye irritants. The atmospheric lifetime of tropospheric ozone is about 22 days; its main removal mechanisms are being deposited to the ground, the above mentioned reaction giving OH, and by reactions with OH and the peroxy radical HO2· (Stevenson et al., 2006).[16]

There is evidence of significant reduction in agricultural yields because of increased ground-level ozone and pollution which interferes with photosynthesis and stunts overall growth of some plant species.[17][18]

Certain examples of cities with elevated ozone readings are Houston, Texas, and Mexico City, Mexico. Houston has a reading of around 41 ppb, while Mexico City is far more hazardous, with a reading of about 125 ppb.[18]

Ozone cracking

Ozone cracking in natural rubber tubing

Ozone gas attacks any polymer possessing olefinic or double bonds within its chain structure, such as natural rubber, nitrile rubber, and styrene-butadiene rubber. Products made using these polymers are especially susceptible to attack, which causes cracks to grow longer and deeper with time, the rate of crack growth depending on the load carried by the product and the concentration of ozone in the atmosphere. Such materials can be protected by adding antiozonants, such as waxes, which bond to the surface to create a protective film or blend with the material and provide long term protection. Ozone cracking used to be a serious problem in car tires for example, but the problem is now seen only in very old tires. On the other hand, many critical products like gaskets and O-rings may be attacked by ozone produced within compressed air systems. Fuel lines are often made from reinforced rubber tubing and may also be susceptible to attack, especially within engine compartments where low levels of ozone are produced from electrical equipment. Storing rubber products in close proximity to DC electric motors can accelerate the rate at which ozone cracking occurs. The commutator of the motor creates sparks which in turn produce ozone.

Ozone as a greenhouse gas

Although ozone was present at ground level before the Industrial Revolution, peak concentrations are now far higher than the pre-industrial levels, and even background concentrations well away from sources of pollution are substantially higher.[19][20] This increase in ozone is of further concern because ozone present in the upper troposphere acts as a greenhouse gas, absorbing some of the infrared energy emitted by the earth. Quantifying the greenhouse gas potency of ozone is difficult because it is not present in uniform concentrations across the globe. However, the most widely accepted scientific assessments relating to climate change (e.g. the IPCC Third Assessment Report[21]) suggest that the radiative forcing of tropospheric ozone is about 25% that of carbon dioxide.

Health effects

Air pollution

Red Alder leaf, showing the typical discolouration caused by ozone pollution.[22]

There is a great deal of evidence to show that high concentrations of ozone, created by high concentrations of pollution and daylight UV rays at the Earth's surface, can harm lung function and irritate the respiratory system.[15][23] A connection has also been known to exist between increased ozone caused by thunderstorms and hospital admissions of asthma sufferers.[24] Air quality guidelines such as those from the World Health Organization are based on detailed studies of what levels can cause measurable health effects. Exposure to ozone and the pollutants that produce it has been linked to premature death, asthma, bronchitis, heart attack, and other cardiopulmonary problems. According to scientists with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), susceptible people can be adversely affected by ozone levels as low as 40 ppb.[25]

The Clean Air Act directs the EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards for several pollutants, including ground-level ozone, and counties out of compliance with these standards are required to take steps to reduce their levels. In May 2008, the EPA lowered its ozone standard from 80 ppb to 75 ppb. This proved controversial, since the Agency's own scientists and advisory board had recommended lowering the standard to 60 ppb, and the World Health Organization recommends 51 ppb. Many public health and environmental groups also supported the 60 ppb standard. On the other hand, the EPA had already designated over 300 mostly urban counties as out of compliance, and lowering the standard to 75 ppb put hundreds more in non-compliance. Lowering it further to 60 ppb would likely have left most of the US in non-compliance. Manufacturers, employers, and others argued that the cost of compliance with the lower standard would be prohibitive.[25] The EPA has also developed an Air Quality Index to help explain air pollution levels to the general public. Eight-hour average ozone concentrations of 85 to 104 ppb are described as "unhealthy for sensitive groups", 105 ppb to 124 ppb as "unhealthy" and 125 ppb to 404 ppb as "very unhealthy".[26]

Ozone can also be present in indoor air pollution, partly as a result of electronic equipment such as photocopiers.

A common British folk myth dating back to the Victorian era holds that the smell of the sea is caused by ozone, and that this smell has "bracing" health benefits.[27] Neither of these is true. The characteristic "smell of the sea" is not caused by ozone but by the presence of dimethyl sulfide generated by phytoplankton, and dimethyl sulfide, like ozone, is toxic in high concentrations.[28]

Long-term exposure to ozone has been shown to increase risk of death from respiratory illness. A study of 450,000 people living in United States cities showed a significant correlation between ozone levels and respiratory illness over the 18-year follow-up period. The study revealed that people living in cities with high ozone levels such as Houston or Los Angeles had an over 30% increased risk of dying from lung disease.[29][30]


Ozone, along with reactive forms of oxygen such as superoxide, singlet oxygen, hydrogen peroxide, and hypochlorite ions, is naturally produced by white blood cells and other biological systems (such as the roots of marigolds) as a means of destroying foreign bodies. Ozone reacts directly with organic double bonds. Also, when ozone breaks down to dioxygen it gives rise to oxygen free radicals, which are highly reactive and capable of damaging many organic molecules. Ozone has been found to convert cholesterol in the blood stream to plaque (which causes hardening and narrowing of arteries). Moreover, it is believed that the powerful oxidizing properties of ozone may be a contributing factor of inflammation. The cause-and-effect relationship of how the ozone is created in the body and what it does is still under consideration and still subject to various interpretations, since other body chemical processes can trigger some of the same reactions. A team headed by Dr. Paul Wentworth Jr. of the Department of Chemistry at the Scripps Research Institute has shown evidence linking the antibody-catalyzed water-oxidation pathway of the human immune response to the production of ozone. In this system, ozone is produced by antibody-catalyzed production of trioxidane from water and neutrophil-produced singlet oxygen.[31]

When inhaled, ozone reacts with compounds lining the lungs to form specific, cholesterol-derived metabolites that are thought to facilitate the build-up and pathogenesis of atherosclerotic plaques (a form of heart disease). These metabolites have been confirmed as naturally occurring in human atherosclerotic arteries and are categorized into a class of secosterols termed atheronals, generated by ozonolysis of cholesterol's double bond to form a 5,6 secosterol[32] as well as a secondary condensation product via aldolization.[33]

Ozone has been implicated to have an adverse effect on plant growth: "... ozone reduced total chlorophylls, carotenoid and carbohydrate concentration, and increased 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC) content and ethylene production. In treated plants, the ascorbate leaf pool was decreased, while lipid peroxidation and solute leakage were significantly higher than in ozone-free controls. The data indicated that ozone triggered protective mechanisms against oxidative stress in citrus."[34]

Safety regulations

Due to the strongly oxidizing properties of ozone, ozone is a primary irritant, affecting especially the eyes and respiratory systems and can be hazardous at even low concentrations. The Canadian Center for Occupation Safety and Health reports that:

"Even very low concentrations of ozone can be harmful to the upper respiratory tract and the lungs. The severity of injury depends on both by the concentration of ozone and the duration of exposure. Severe and permanent lung injury or death could result from even a very short-term exposure to relatively low concentrations." [35]

To protect workers potentially exposed to ozone, OSHA has established a permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 0.1 ppm (29 CFR 1910.1000 table Z-1), calculated as an 8 hour time weighted average. Higher concentrations are especially hazardous and NIOSH has established an Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health Limit (IDLH) of 5 ppm.[36] Work environments where ozone is used or where it is likely to be produced should have adequate ventilation and it is prudent to have a monitor for ozone that will alarm if the concentration exceeds the OSHA PEL. Continuous monitors for ozone are available from several suppliers.


Ozone often forms in nature under conditions where O2 will not react.[6] Ozone used in industry is measured in g/nm3, ppm (parts per million), mg/hr(milligrams per hour) or weight percent. The regime of applied concentrations ranges from 1 to 5 weight percent in air and from 6 to 14 weight percent in oxygen.

Temperature and humidity plays a large role in how much ozone is being produced. Any ozone machine, when operated in very humid ambient air, will produce up to 50% less ozone than when operated in very dry ambient air.

Corona discharge method

This is the most popular type of ozone generator for most industrial and personal uses. While variations of the "hot spark" coronal discharge method of ozone production exist, including medical grade and industrial grade ozone generators, these units usually work by means of a corona discharge tube.[37] They are typically very cost-effective and do not require an oxygen source other than the ambient air. However, they also produce nitrogen oxides as a by-product. Use of an air dryer can reduce or eliminate nitric acid formation by removing water vapor and increase ozone production. Use of an oxygen concentrator can further increase the ozone production and further reduce the risk of nitric acid formation by removing not only the water vapor, but also the bulk of the nitrogen.

Ultraviolet light

UV ozone generators, or very-ultraviolet (VUV) ozone generators, employ a light source that generates a narrow-band ultraviolet light, a subset of that produced by the Sun. The Sun's UV sustains the ozone layer in the stratosphere of Earth.[38]

While standard UV ozone generators tend to be less expensive, they usually produce ozone with a concentration of about 0.5% or lower. Another disadvantage of this method is that it requires the air (oxygen) to be exposed to the UV source for a longer amount of time, and any gas that is not exposed to the UV source will not be treated. This makes UV generators impractical for use in situations that deal with rapidly moving air or water streams (in-duct air sterilization, for example). Production of ozone is one of the potential dangers of ultraviolet germicidal irradiation. VUV ozone generators are used in swimming pool and spa applications ranging to millions of gallons of water. VUV ozone generators, unlike corona discharge generators, do not produce harmful nitrogen by-products and also unlike corona discharge systems, VUV ozone generators work extremely well in humid air environments. There is also not normally a need for expensive off-gas mechanisms, and no need for air driers or oxygen concentrators which require extra costs and maintenance.

Cold plasma

In the cold plasma method, pure oxygen gas is exposed to a plasma created by dielectric barrier discharge. The diatomic oxygen is split into single atoms, which then recombine in triplets to form ozone.

Cold plasma machines utilize pure oxygen as the input source and produce a maximum concentration of about 5% ozone. They produce far greater quantities of ozone in a given space of time compared to ultraviolet production. However, because cold plasma ozone generators are very expensive, they are found less frequently than the previous two types.

The discharges manifest as filamentary transfer of electrons (micro discharges) in a gap between two electrodes. In order to evenly distribute the micro discharges, a dielectric insulator must be used to separate the metallic electrodes and to prevent arcing.

Some cold plasma units also have the capability of producing short-lived allotropes of oxygen which include O4, O5, O6, O7, etc. These anions(?) are even more reactive than ordinary O3.[citation needed]

Special considerations

Ozone cannot be stored and transported like other industrial gases (because it quickly decays into diatomic oxygen) and must therefore be produced on site. Available ozone generators vary in the arrangement and design of the high-voltage electrodes. At production capacities higher than 20 kg per hour, a gas/water tube heat-exchanger may be utilized as ground electrode and assembled with tubular high-voltage electrodes on the gas-side. The regime of typical gas pressures is around 2 bar absolute in oxygen and 3 bar absolute in air. Several megawatts of electrical power may be installed in large facilities, applied as one phase AC current at 50 to 8000 Hz and peak voltages between 3,000 and 20,000 volts. Applied voltage is usually inversely related to the applied frequency.

The dominating parameter influencing ozone generation efficiency is the gas temperature, which is controlled by cooling water temperature and/or gas velocity. The cooler the water, the better the ozone synthesis. The lower the gas velocity, the higher the concentration (but the lower the net ozone produced). At typical industrial conditions, almost 90% of the effective power is dissipated as heat and needs to be removed by a sufficient cooling water flow.

Because of the high reactivity of ozone, only few materials may be used like stainless steel (quality 316L), titanium, aluminium (as long as no moisture is present), glass, polytetrafluorethylene, or polyvinylidene fluoride. Viton may be used with the restriction of constant mechanical forces and absence of humidity (humidity limitations apply depending on the formulation). Hypalon may be used with the restriction that no water come in contact with it, except for normal atmospheric levels. Embrittlement or shrinkage is the common mode of failure of elastomers with exposure to ozone. Ozone cracking is the common mode of failure of elastomer seals like O-rings.

Silicone rubbers are usually adequate for use as gaskets in ozone concentrations below 1 wt%, such as in equipment for accelerated ageing of rubber samples.

Incidental production

Ozone may be formed from O2 by electrical discharges and by action of high energy electromagnetic radiation. Certain electrical equipment generate significant levels of ozone. This is especially true of devices using high voltages, such as ionic air purifiers, laser printers, photocopiers, tasers and arc welders. Electric motors using brushes can generate ozone from repeated sparking inside the unit. Large motors that use brushes, such as those used by elevators or hydraulic pumps, will generate more ozone than smaller motors. Ozone is similarly formed in the Catatumbo lightning storms phenomenon on the Catatumbo River in Venezuela, which helps to replenish ozone in the upper troposphere. It is the world's largest single natural generator of ozone, lending calls for it to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[39]

Laboratory production

In the laboratory, ozone can be produced by electrolysis using a 9 volt battery, a pencil graphite rod cathode, a platinum wire anode and a 3 molar sulfuric acid electrolyte.[40] The half cell reactions taking place are:

3 H2O → O3 + 6 H+ + 6 e (ΔEo = −1.53 V)
6 H+ + 6 e → 3 H2 (ΔEo = 0 V)
2 H2O → O2 + 4 H+ + 4 e (ΔEo = −1.23 V)

In the net reaction, three equivalents of water are converted into one equivalent of ozone and three equivalents of hydrogen. Oxygen formation is a competing reaction.

It can also be prepared by passing 10,000-20,000 volts DC through dry O2. This can be done with an apparatus consisting of two concentric glass tubes sealed together at the top, with in and out spigots at the top and bottom of the outer tube. The inner core should have a length of metal foil inserted into it connected to one side of the power source. The other side of the power source should be connected to another piece of foil wrapped around the outer tube. Dry O2 should be run through the tube in one spigot. As the O2 is run through one spigot into the apparatus and 10,000-20,000 volts DC are applied to the foil leads, electricity will discharge between the dry dioxygen in the middle and form O3 and O2 out the other spigot. The reaction can be summarized as follows:[6]

3 O2electricity → 2 O3

Ionic air purifiers

Some air purifiers create ozone.[41]



The largest use of ozone is in the preparation of pharmaceuticals, synthetic lubricants, and many other commercially useful organic compounds, where it is used to sever carbon-carbon bonds.[6] It can also be used for bleaching substances and for killing microorganisms in air and water sources.[42] Many municipal drinking water systems kill bacteria with ozone instead of the more common chlorine.[43] Ozone has a very high oxidation potential.[44] Ozone does not form organochlorine compounds, nor does it remain in the water after treatment. The Safe Drinking Water Act mandates that these systems introduce an amount of chlorine to maintain a minimum of 0.2 ppm residual free chlorine in the pipes, based on results of regular testing. Where electrical power is abundant, ozone is a cost-effective method of treating water, since it is produced on demand and does not require transportation and storage of hazardous chemicals. Once it has decayed, it leaves no taste or odor in drinking water.

Although low levels of ozone have been advertised to be of some disinfectant use in residential homes, the concentration of ozone in dry air required to have a rapid, substantial effect on airborne pathogens exceeds safe levels recommended by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Environmental Protection Agency. Humidity control can vastly improve both the killing power of the ozone and the rate at which it decays back to oxygen (more humidity allows more effectiveness). Spore forms of most pathogens are very tolerant of atmospheric ozone in concentrations where asthma patients start to have issues.

Industrially, ozone is used to:

  • Disinfect laundry in hospitals, food factories, care homes etc;[45]
  • Disinfect water in place of chlorine[6]
  • Deodorize air and objects, such as after a fire. This process is extensively used in fabric restoration
  • Kill bacteria on food or on contact surfaces;[46]
  • Sanitize swimming pools and spas
  • Kill insects in stored grain[47]
  • Scrub yeast and mold spores from the air in food processing plants;
  • Wash fresh fruits and vegetables to kill yeast, mold and bacteria;[46]
  • Chemically attack contaminants in water (iron, arsenic, hydrogen sulfide, nitrites, and complex organics lumped together as "colour");
  • Provide an aid to flocculation (agglomeration of molecules, which aids in filtration, where the iron and arsenic are removed);
  • Manufacture chemical compounds via chemical synthesis[48]
  • Clean and bleach fabrics (the former use is utilized in fabric restoration; the latter use is patented);
  • Assist in processing plastics to allow adhesion of inks;
  • Age rubber samples to determine the useful life of a batch of rubber;
  • Eradicate water borne parasites such as Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidium in surface water treatment plants.

Ozone is a reagent in many organic reactions in the laboratory and in industry. Ozonolysis is the cleavage of an alkene to carbonyl compounds.

Many hospitals in the U.S. and around the world use large ozone generators to decontaminate operating rooms between surgeries. The rooms are cleaned and then sealed airtight before being filled with ozone which effectively kills or neutralizes all remaining bacteria.[49]

Ozone is used as an alternative to chlorine or chlorine dioxide in the bleaching of wood pulp.[50] It is often used in conjunction with oxygen and hydrogen peroxide to eliminate the need for chlorine-containing compounds in the manufacture of high-quality, white paper.[51]

Ozone can be used to detoxify cyanide wastes (for example from gold and silver mining) by oxidizing cyanide to cyanate and eventually to carbon dioxide.[52]


Devices generating high levels of ozone, some of which use ionization, are used to sanitize and deodorize uninhabited buildings, rooms, ductwork, woodsheds, and boats and other vehicles.

In the U.S., air purifiers emitting low levels of ozone have been sold. This kind of air purifier is sometimes claimed to imitate nature's way of purifying the air[53] without filters and to sanitize both it and household surfaces. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has declared that there is "evidence to show that at concentrations that do not exceed public health standards, ozone is not effective at removing many odor-causing chemicals" or "viruses, bacteria, mold, or other biological pollutants." Furthermore, its report states that "results of some controlled studies show that concentrations of ozone considerably higher than these [human safety] standards are possible even when a user follows the manufacturer’s operating instructions."[54] The government successfully sued one company in 1995, ordering it to stop repeating health claims without supporting scientific studies.

Ozonated water is used to launder clothes and to sanitize food, drinking water, and surfaces in the home. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it is "amending the food additive regulations to provide for the safe use of ozone in gaseous and aqueous phases as an antimicrobial agent on food, including meat and poultry." Studies at California Polytechnic University demonstrated that 0.3 ppm levels of ozone dissolved in filtered tapwater can produce a reduction of more than 99.99% in such food-borne microorganisms as salmonella, E. coli 0157:H7, and Campylobacter. This quantity is 20,000 times the WHO recommended limits stated above.[46][55] Ozone can be used to remove pesticide residues from fruits and vegetables.[56][57]

Ozone is used in homes and hot tubs to kill bacteria in the water and to reduce the amount of chlorine or bromine required by reactivating them to their free state. Since ozone does not remain in the water long enough, ozone by itself is ineffective at preventing cross-contamination among bathers and must be used in conjunction with halogens. Gaseous ozone created by ultraviolet light or by corona discharge is injected into the water.[58]

Ozone is also widely used in treatment of water in aquariums and fish ponds. Its use can minimize bacterial growth, control parasites, eliminate transmission of some diseases, and reduce or eliminate "yellowing" of the water. Ozone must not come in contact with fish's gill structures. Natural salt water (with life forms) provides enough "instantaneous demand" that controlled amounts of ozone activate bromide ion to hypobromous acid, and the ozone entirely decays in a few seconds to minutes. If oxygen fed ozone is used, the water will be higher in dissolved oxygen, fish's gill structures will atrophy and they will become dependent on higher dissolved oxygen levels.

See also


  1. ^ a b Rubin, Mordecai B. (2001). "The History of Ozone. The Schönbein Period, 1839–1868" (PDF). Bull. Hist. Chem. 26 (1). Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  2. ^ "Today in Science History". Retrieved 2006-05-10. 
  3. ^ Jacques-Louis Soret (1865). "Recherches sur la densité de l'ozone". Comptes rendus de l'Académie des sciences 61: 941. 
  4. ^ "Ozone FAQ". Global Change Master Directory. Retrieved 2006-05-10. 
  5. ^ "Oxygen". WebElements. Retrieved 2006-09-23. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Nicole Folchetti, ed (2003). "22". Chemistry: The Central Science (9th ed.). Pearson Education. pp. 882–883. ISBN 0-13-066997-0. 
  7. ^ Takehiko Tanaka; Yonezo Morino. Coriolis interaction and anharmonic potential function of ozone from the microwave spectra in the excited vibrational states Journal of Molecular Spectroscopy 1970, 33, 538–551.
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Further reading

  • Greenwood, Norman N.; Earnshaw, A. (1997), Chemistry of the Elements (2nd ed.), Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, ISBN 0-7506-3365-4 
  • Series in Plasma Physics: Non-Equilibrium Air Plasmas at Atmospheric Pressure. Edited by K.H. Becker, U. Kogelschatz, K.H. Schoenbach, R.J. Barker; Bristol and Philadelphia: Institute of Physics Publishing Ltd; ISBN 0-7503-0962-8; 2005

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

Medical warning!
This article is from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica. Medical science has made many leaps forward since it has been written. This is not a site for medical advice, when you need information on a medical condition, consult a professional instead.

OZONE, allotropic oxygen, 03. The first recorded observations of the substance are due to Van Marum (1785), who found that oxygen gas through which a stream of electric sparks had been passed, tarnished mercury and emitted a peculiar smell. In 1840 C. F. Schonbein (Pogg. Ann. 50, p. 616) showed that this substance was also present in the oxygen liberated during the electrolysis of acidulated water, and gave it the name ozone (Gr. 6 tv, to smell). Ozone mixed with an excess of oxygen is obtained by submitting dry oxygen to the silent electric discharge [at the temperature of liquid air, E. Briner and E. Durand (Comptes rendus, 1907, 1 45, p. 1272) obtained a 90% yield]; by the action of fluorine on water at o° C. (H. Moissan, Comptes rendus, 1899, 129, p. 570); by the action of concentrated sulphuric acid or barium peroxide or on other peroxides and salts of peracids (A. v. Baeyer and V. Villiger, Ber. 1901, 34, p. 355); by passing oxygen over some heated metallic oxides, and by distilling potassium permanganate with concentrated sulphuric acid in vacuo. It is also formed during many processes of slow oxidation. For a description of the various forms of ozonizers used on the large scale see N. Otto, Rev. gen. de chemie pure et appliquee, 1900, ii. p. 405; W. Elworthy, Elekt. Zeits., 1904, ii. p. 1), and H. Guilleminot (Comptes rendus, 1903, 136, p. 1653). Ozone is also produced by the action of cathode and ultra-violet rays on oxygen. These methods of preparation give an ozone diluted with a considerable amount of unaltered oxygen; A. Ladenburg (Ber. 18 9 8, 3 1, pp. 2508, 2830) succeeded in liquefying ozonized oxygen with liquid air and then by fractional evaporation obtained a liquid containing between 80 and 90% of ozone.

Ozone is a colourless gas which possesses a characteristic smell. When strongly cooled it condenses to an indigo blue liquid which is extremely explosive (see Liquid Gases). In ozonizing oxygen the volume of the gas diminishes, but if the gas be heated to about 300° C, it returns to its original volume and is found to be nothing but oxygen. The same change of ozone into oxygen may be brought about by contact with platinum black and other substances. Ozone is only very slightly soluble in water. It is a most powerful oxidizing agent, which rapidly attacks organic matter (hence in preparing the gas, rubber connexions must not be used, since they are instantly destroyed), bleaches vegetable colouring matters and acts rapidly on most metals. It liberates iodine from solutions of potassium iodide, the reaction in neutral solution proceeding thus: 0 3 +2KI+H 2 O=0 2 +12-1-2KHO, whilst in acid solution the decomposition takes the following course: 403+ 10HI 51 2 +H 2 O 2 +4H 2 O+30 2 (A. Ladenburg, Ber. 1901, 34, p. 1184). Ozone is decomposed by some metallic oxides, with regeneration of oxygen. It combines with many unsaturated carbon compounds to form ozonides (C. Harries, Ber. 1904, 37, pp. 839 et seq.).

The constitution of ozone has been determined by J. L. Soret (Ann. chim. phys., 1866 [4], 7, p. 113; 1868 [4], 1 3, p. 2 57), who showed that the diminution in volume when ozone is absorbed from ozonized oxygen by means of oil of turpentine is twice as great as the increase in volume observed when ozone is reconverted into oxygen on heating. This points to the gas possessing the molecular formula 03. Confirmation was obtained by comparing the rate of diffusion of ozone with that of chlorine, which gave 24.8 as the value for the density of ozone, consequently the molecular formula must be 0 3 (cf. B. C. Brodie, Phil. Trans., 1872, pt. ii. p. 435). More recently A. Ladenburg (Ber. 1901, 34, p. 631) has obtained as a mean value for the molecular weight the number 47.78, which corresponds with the above molecular formula. Ozone is used largely for sterilizing water.

p The sixteenth letter of the English alphabet, the fifteenth in the Latin and the sixteenth in the Greek alphabet, the latter in its ordinary form having the symbol for x before o. In the Phoenician alphabet, from which the Western alphabets are directly or indirectly derived, its shape, written from right to left, is 9. In the Greek alphabet, when written from left to right, it takes the form P or Il, the second form being much rarer in inscriptions than the first. Only very rarely and only in inscriptions of the 7th and 6th centuries B.C. are rounded forms r, fl found. In Italy the Etruscan and Umbrian form I (written from right to left), though more angular than the Phoenician symbol, resembles it more closely than it does the Greek. The earliest Roman form - on the inscription found in the Forum in 1899 - is Greek in shape '-], though the second leg is barely visible. The Oscan II is identical with the rarer Greek form. As time goes on the Roman form becomes more and more rounded P, but not till Imperial times is the semicircle completed so as to form the symbol in the shape which it still retains P. The Semitic name Pe became in Greek 7r€7, and has in the course of ages changed but little. The sound of p throughout has been that of the breathed labial stop, as in the English pin. At the end of English words like lip the breath is audible after the consonant, so that the sound is rather that of the ancient Greek 0, i.e. p-h, not f, as 4 is ordinarily now pronounced. This sound is found initially also in some dialects of English, as in the Irish pronunciation of pig as p-hig. For a remarkable interchange between p and qu sounds which is found in many languages, see under Q. (P. GI.)

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Simple English

Ozone is a chemical with the symbol O3. This means one molecule of Ozone is made of 3 Oxygen atoms. Ozone is important to planet Earth as it soaks up or absorbs the dangerous ultraviolet radiation from the Sun, like a kind of sun screen. Without this ozone layer things would not have been able to live on the surface of our planet.

Ozone is toxic if breathed in. It irritates the eyes and respiratory system. For a 15-minute exposure, the concentration in the atmosphere should not exceed 0.4 mg/m3. Ozone is also called trioxygen.

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