Ozone is a strong oxidizer that is generally not harmful to mammals at low concentrations, but lethal to microorganisms such as bacteria. However, ozone, like any other strong oxidizing agent, can be harmful if not handled properly. Our OSHA and ozone page has specific numbers on safe ozone levels.
Potential Health Effects as listed on the Ozone Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS):
Inhalation: Ozone causes dryness of the mouth, coughing, and irritation of the nose, throat, and chest. It may cause labored breathing, headaches, and fatigue. However, the characteristic sharp, pungent odor is readily detectable at low concentrations (0.005 to 0.02 ppm). Corrective Measure: Move to fresh air, loosen tight clothing around the torso. Call for medical attention if necessary. If breathing is difficult, a trained person/EMT should administer oxygen at 15 lpm via non-re-breather.
Skin: Absorption through intact skin is not expected. Corrective Measure: Wash skin thoroughly with soap and water.
Eye Contact: Ozone can be an irritant to the eyes, causing minor inflammation. Corrective Measure: Flush eyes with large amounts of water for at least 15 minutes while forcibly holding eyelids apart to ensure flushing of the entire eye surface. If irritation, pain, or other symptoms persist, seek professional medical attention.
Ingestion: It is not a route of exposure.
Aggravation of Pre-existing Conditions: Ozone may increase sensitivity to bronchia constrictors, including allergens, especially individuals with asthma.
Chronic Condition: Long term health effects are not expected from exposures to ozone. A partial tolerance appears to develop with repeated exposures.
For safety protection, personal awareness of an odor of ozone should not be relied upon. Instrumentation and equipment should be
provided to measure ambient ozone levels and perform the following safety functions:
- Initiate an alarm signal at an ambient ozone level of 0.1 ppm. Equipment can stay operational if desired.
- Initiate a second alarm signal at ambient ozone levels of 0.3 ppm. This signal would also immediately shut down the ozone generation equipment. The majority of humans can smell ozone long before it is dangerous. The odor detection threshold is 0.005-0.02 ppm.
Always have an ozone monitor present when generating ozone.