Once guests arrive to their hotel suite, the bed is perfectly made, the countertop is completely dusted, and the room is filled with a pleasant odor – but is that smell really pleasant?

Ozone purifying units are commonly used in the hospitality industry. It is claimed that the units can create a “fresh” atmosphere, removing unwanted dust and bacteria from the air. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Unlike the oxygen that gives life to humans (O2), ozone molecules consist of three oxygen atoms (O3). The extra oxygen atom makes the ozone molecules highly reactive, and hence capable of altering the chemical substances that we inhale. Similarly, it is also able to react with living tissues within the body – and this is what makes it deadly.

Many people are confused about ozone because of the ozone layer. They know that ozone in the upper atmosphere protects us from UV radiation, and rightly believe that ozone is a good thing. However, the ozone at ground level that is emitted by air purifiers is not so beneficial; it is hazardous to health and is classified as an air pollutant in some countries.

Exposure to even small amounts of ozone can harm the cells in the lungs and irritate the respiratory organs and the eye membranes. It also causes symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. It contributes to higher susceptibility to asthma and lung infection. Clearly, the negatives of ozone generators outweigh the benefits, so why are hotels still using them?

Some ozone purifying devices are marketed using words such as “activated oxygen”, “super oxygenated”, or “energized oxygen”, implying that ozone is just an improved version of life-giving oxygen. Other air purifier companies claim that ozone will remove bacteria, dust, pollen, air pollutants, and bad odors from the air. Again, those claims contradict much scientific research.

For a start, ozone generators are not effective against bacteria and mold on indoor surfaces, and the amount of ozone which would be required to prevent bacterial growth would actually be highly unsafe for human life. Furthermore, ozone does not remove particulates, such as dust or pollen. In fact, research shows that ozone generated by air purifiers not only fails to remove air pollutants, but instead reacts with chemicals in the air to create even more toxic pollutants. Moreover, many customers purchase these purifiers to create the “fresh” scent of ozone; little do they know that ozone actually deadens the sense of smell. And far from eradicating the source of bad smells, such as the odor caused by bacteria, the ozone released from a purifier can only mask the odors in the room.

In summary, ozone generators do not effectively eradicate pollutants, bacteria or dust in the air. Instead, they simply pose a significant risk to the health of the guests. Hoteliers should therefore avoid using ozone purifying units; the use of alternative approaches such as High Efficiency Particulate Air Filters is recommended as a safer and more effective means of keeping the air clean and fresh.

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