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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

What does ozone mean?

1/21/2020 (Permalink)

The use of ozone among restoration professionals has become widely accepted.  It is most commonly used in this field as a high grade deodorization technique that can combat strong odors like pet odor and even smoke. While proving successful in these areas, the practice of using ozone has expanded into microbial remediation as in certain concentrations of O3 proves lethal. The EPA has released recent information that Ozone use should not be used in mold remediation as hyphae and spores are not eliminated during the process, thus potential allergen agents still exist. The IICRC, our industry standard, even suggests against the use of nontraditional forms of mold remediation; however, countless professionals still insist that this technique is effective. This literary review hopes to shine some light on this particular subject and the potential for advanced technology in microbiological remediation.

What is Ozone and how does it Work?                         

Ozone is the triatomic form of oxygen. While atmospheric oxygen (O2) remains the more commonly known molecule, ozone, or O3, has an additional oxygen atom that reacts with other molecules. In this way, this unstable atom will react with other atoms to break them down, thus neutralizing odors.

Building Ecology and the Effects of Indoor Pollution

Building composition, activity, and use all relate to indoor environmental condition. While several baselines have been created to determine air quality, building ecology is relatively based upon its occupant’s sensitivity to their surroundings. Pollution generation within comes from any number of primary or secondary agents including bio effluents, mold, smoke, byproducts of HVAC systems, and various other Volatile Organic Compounds. In reality, VOC’s, by comparison, are consistently higher indoors than outdoors. Normal use (cooking, water heating, cooling and moving, cleaning products) produces VOC’s that pass through filters and HVAC units and can cause irritation or allergies to its patrons. For this reason, it is important to constantly monitor indoor environments, especially when considering your ventilation systems (Air Ducts, HVAC, Returns, and Vents). 

The Transition of Ozone Use to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Ozone has been used heavily in water purification efforts for some time to deter biological growth. In 1997, ozone use was accepted as generally safe for food contact applications (U.S. FDA 1997). Currently, it is used for the post-harvest treatment of fish and fruit, in order to remove the presence of mycotoxin contamination (mold growth) and insects. Eventually school of thought transferred to the restoration industry. If ozone could deter mold growth in fruit and vegetable processing, could it remove mold growth in homes?

According to one study conducted in 2008, ozone was reported to have successfully inactivated colony-forming fungal units both in a laboratory and simulated field condition on various surfaces. The question then becomes does inactive mold still present a hazard to occupants and is this sufficient for remediation purposes?

Modern Day Mold Removal, Remediation, and Treatment

The EPA has completed several reviews on the current status of mold remediation processes and the use of ozone across throughout the industry (EPA, 1996). Current OSHA and EPA guidelines shy away from ozone use for indoor air pollution as the positives often outweigh the negatives. Both occupants and technicians could be at risk of respiratory issues if ozone is used improperly or at too high of a concentration.

If used properly however, ozone may be used in conjunction with other cleaning methods. A pre-ozone treatment could potentially limit hazards to employees prior to remediation. While source control should always be the number one priority in any hazardous remediation effort, shunning technology will limit the efficiency of air quality improvement.

Other Technological Advances Used In Microbial Remediation

Efforts have been made to reduce the impacts of mold removal through other means as well. blasting, hydroxylase, and even UV light disbursement have all entered into the restoration industry as means to assist in the sanitization of an affected area. These methods take additional training and in some cases additional safety precautions for technicians that are completing the projects. These techniques, while effective in disinfecting areas, still need to be combined with more traditional types of remediation (Containment, Negative Air Pressure, Air Scrubbing, etc.) in order to properly remove mold growth.

Indoor air quality should be constantly monitored, as air pollution can be caused by a variety of issues. If you think you have a mold problem, please don’t hesitate to call in a professional as these problems get worse with time. Mold can hurt the value of a home, but it can be easily treated if the right company is hired to remediate the problem. Make sure that your remediation company isn’t doing more harm than good in your home.

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