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Climate Change is Making Ozone Detection More Important Than Ever

Air pollution associated with climate change means ozone detection is increasingly important as a way to mitigate negative ozone health effects and damage to buildings.

In the US, the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, has already published research predicting that summertime ozone levels will increase by as much as 70% by 2050.

Ozone gas is associated with climate change, meaning this increase in ozone pollution is likely to take place in other countries around the world too.

What is ozone?

Ozone is an allotrope of oxygen. Unlike an ordinary oxygen gas molecule, which has the chemical formula O2, ozone is an unstable arrangement of three oxygen atoms, giving it the chemical formula O3.

If you thought the relationship between the ozone layer and global warming was a good thing, then you’re right – ozone in the troposphere protects us against excess warming and other damage from the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation.

But ground-level ozone, which is produced via manmade processes and some natural interactions, has been linked with negative health effects and ‘ozone erosion’ of the built environment.

Is ozone harmful?

You may have seen ozone generators sold as a method of air purification, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic – so is ozone poisonous?

The EPA warns that even relatively low concentrations can make ozone dangerous, leading to an irritated throat, shortness of breath, coughing and chest pain.

Negative ozone effects can be even worse in individuals who already have chronic respiratory conditions like asthma.

What is ozone erosion?

Because ozone is unstable, its third oxygen atom can interact with a wide variety of substances, not only leading to ozone poisoning in people, but also eroding building materials like limestone and sandstone.

The University of Southampton previously warned of this, and the university’s Dr Abhishek Tiwary said: “Limestone, for example, found in buildings like Westminster Abbey or the Houses of Parliament, is strongly eroded by increased levels of ground-level ozone.”

Ground-level ozone can be produced by densely planted areas, suggesting that ozone detection around heritage properties could help to guide gardening decisions in the decades to come.

Why is ozone detection important?

Petrichor, the smell produced by heavy rain falling on dry soil, owes much of its signature scent to the ‘clean’ ozone smell released by plants, which some people say smells like geraniums, while others compare it to a light bleach smell.

This aroma is partly why ozone is popular for cleaning applications, but it’s not distinctive enough to rely on smelling ozone as a means of detection, especially at low concentrations.

In healthcare facilities, museums and heritage properties, and anywhere where ozone erosion and negative ozone health impacts are a concern, a specialist ozone detector is essential.

Envin Scientific ozone detectors

Envin Scientific have a long-held specialism in ozone monitoring and control devices, especially for monitoring indoor air quality.

Our mains-powered and handheld sensors give you flexibility to monitor ozone levels in areas of continuous concern, or as an ad hoc option in rooms with no mains power supply.

We work with our customers to create bespoke gas sensors when required, and can supply ozone detectors configured with different alarm levels, if you need to monitor for a specific concentration of ozone gas in the air.

To find out more or to discuss your needs for bespoke ozone gas detectors, contact Envin Scientific today and we will be happy to help.