Lightning strikes heat the air leaving the unique smell of ozone in their wake
Posted in: Gas Detection

What is Ozone?

Ozone is a chemical of seeming contradictions. It consists of three oxygen atoms instead of the two which make up the oxygen we breath. Ozone is poisonous yet without it we wouldn’t have life on earth.

From the Greek word όζειν (ozein) meaning “to smell”, the name ozone comes from its distinctive smell. This smell often lingers in the air after thunderstorms.

The chemical forms when you break an O2 molecule into two separate oxygen atoms. The lose oxygen atoms then find existing O2 molecules to bond with, creating O3. The bond between the two oxygen atoms can break from extreme heat. This is why it appears after thunderstorms, where lightning heats up portions of the sky. The bonds can also break from interaction with of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) which have a much stronger bond.

Up in the atmosphere the heat from the suns rays hit oxygen, breaking it apart and forming ozone. The ozone forms a layer which deflects most of the sun’s UV rays, keeping us safe down on the surface.

Down at ground level ozone can be quite harmful. Ozone is often the result of the chemical emissions from industrial sites. These sites release CFCs as part of their waste.

Effects from breathing in ozone can range from coughing to harming lung tissue. Those with breathing disorders such as asthma or emphysema are also at high risk of developing symptoms due to the presence of ozone.

Monitoring of atmospheric ozone levels is generally conducted by national environmental agencies. These agencies, such as the EPA in the United States or Environment Canada in Canada, will issue alerts when ozone levels are high. In these situations they will usually tell people to stay indoors.

Monitoring Ozone in your workspace

How you check for ozone depends on the context in which you are searching for it. For example in an enclosed space that isn't well ventilated you may want to use a personal gas detector like the Honeywell BW Solo Ozone detector.

The more likely situation will be that you are monitoring machinery. You'll need to do this to ensure they are not creating more ozone than your local regulators allow. In this case a fixed monitor is what you’ll be looking for. These monitors come in a variety of sensitivity levels to ensure you can watch your ozone levels.

For helpe finding the best solutions for your gas detection needs Concept Controls can help. Whether ozone or another gas please reach out to us at Concept Controls. Our safety experts can get you connected with the right equipment for your needs. You can reach our team at 1-888-207-2212.

April 22, 2021
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