Is ozone harmful to humans?
Ozone is considered a useful gas. In small doses, it improves the metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates, oxygen transport in the blood, peripheral circulation, stimulates the immune system, promotes the production of biologically active substances. Environmentalists are anxious about ozone holes. But few people pay attention to this gas, which is present in everyday life.
If accidentally inhaled, a large amount of it is easy to get poisoned. Where can I encounter a toxic amount of ozone? What is this substance? What are the symptoms of poisoning? How to treat and how to prevent intoxication?
Where can I encounter toxic doses of ozone
The main cause of the detrimental effect of O 3 on an ordinary person is exhaust gases and industrial emissions containing volatile hydrocarbons and other substances. On sunny days, when the level of radiation in the atmosphere rises, nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbon gases begin to turn into ozone. In hot summer, not only in big cities, but also in suburban areas, the concentration of ozone in the air exceeds the permissible norms by a factor of 10.
Exposure to ozone is also affected by people working in production where ozonizers are used. Especially often poisoning gets maintenance staff. In the rocket-making industry, liquid ozone is used as an oxidizing agent.
Ozone is a wonderful oxidizer, therefore it is widely used not only in industry, but also in medicine for the purpose of disinfecting premises, clothing and materials.
In the 21st century, household ozonizers were produced, which can be bought by everyone in their home. Manufacturers position them as disinfectants for basements, living quarters (for example, after viral diseases of family members), warehouses, etc. But side effects and precautionary measures are not always written, and users often ignore this information, resulting in ozone poisoning and in everyday life.
There is such a section of medicine as ozone therapy, where this substance is applied externally, orally, intravenously. The effectiveness of the methods has not been proven clinically. On the other hand, its carcinogenic and toxic effects have been proven when administered parenterally. In most countries, ozone therapy is not recognized by traditional medicine, and it can be used only with the written consent of the patient.
What is ozone
Ozone - what is this gas? It is a natural gas consisting of three oxygen molecules (O 3 ). It is formed in the upper atmosphere under the action of sunlight from O 2 and atomic oxygen. Gas has a peculiar smell - it can be felt during a thunderstorm.
Ozone, depending on the state of aggregation, temperature and pressure, has the ability to change color. Under normal conditions, the gas has a purple hue. With increasing atmospheric pressure, it darkens and turns into bluish. In the liquid state it is dark blue, and solid - almost black.
Ozone molecules are unstable and, after being formed in the atmosphere, it turns into ordinary oxygen in ten minutes.
Ozone is a gas with strong oxidizing properties. It is able to oxidize almost all chemical elements that are metals or do not have such properties.
Is ozone gas harmful or beneficial to humans? First consider the positive effect of this substance.
- The ozone layer protects the Earth from the harmful effects of solar radiation.
- It has a therapeutic effect, killing microbes (bacteria, viruses, fungi).
- Improves the process of respiration in living organisms, peripheral movement of blood.
- Reduces blood clotting.
- It has an antioxidant effect.
- It starts the synthesis of biologically active substances in the body.
- Stimulates blood formation and the immune system.
- Able to reduce pain, remove toxins from the body.
Such an effect on human ozone gas is observed at a normal dose. Now let's figure out what dose should be considered normal.
WHO established maximum permissible concentrations of this substance in the air:
- for residential areas up to 30 µg / m 3 ;
- for industrial - up to 100 µg / m 3 ;
- single maximum dose - 0.16 mg / m³.
In fact, the level of O 3 in the air exceeds the maximum permissible level several times. And in sunny hot weather and 10 times. The more smoke in urban air, the more ozone it contains in the heat. Sometimes in the summer in densely populated metropolitan areas a concentration of 1 thousand mcg / m 3 can be observed.
Is ozone harmful to humans? Ozone belongs to the highest class of toxicity. Even chlorine and hydrocyanic acid are inferior to it. Symptoms of ozone poisoning occur due to:
- irritant effect on the respiratory tract;
- stimulation of atherosclerosis;
- detrimental effects on the reproductive male system (with prolonged and systematic contact can cause infertility);
- aggravation of existing allergies;
- exacerbations of cardiovascular diseases.
Signs of ozone poisoning occur almost immediately after contact. Getting into the respiratory tract, it causes sore throat, burning sensation and pain behind the sternum, difficulty in breathing, headache. Then the person feels that it is difficult for him to take a deep breath, so the breath becomes intermittent, frequent, shallow. With a longer exposure in the bronchi and alveoli, structural changes occur. There is bronchitis, pneumonia, emphysema, bronchospasm in healthy people or exacerbation of bronchial asthma in people suffering from this disease. The volume of breathing decreases. The delayed effects of ozone are neurological disorders (absent-mindedness, reduced attention).
Influencing the eyes, ozone causes tearing, cramps, pain in the eyes, and sometimes loss of vision.
With systematic contact not only respiratory functions are disturbed. There is anemia, impaired clotting, bleeding and hemorrhage, blood pressure rises, heart and kidney diseases appear, and the secretory capacity of the stomach decreases. Suffer and oxidative processes. Harmful radicals circulate throughout the body, damaging cells. O 3 increases the likelihood of premature death from heart disease.
Poisonous ozone gas is a carcinogen. It has a damaging effect on deoxyribonucleic acid cells, causing mutations.
Under production conditions, contact with liquid O 3 is possible. In this case, deep frostbite occurs, since its crystallization temperature is close to –200 ° C.
First aid for poisoning
Treatment of ozone poisoning in the first place should be to provide emergency assistance to the victim. First aid for poisoning with this gas is:
- in ensuring the flow of fresh air;
- in giving a semi-sitting position;
- if respiratory arrest occurs, artificial respiration should be performed.
For any degree of poisoning, seek medical attention!
When frostbite with liquid ozone, clothes at the point of contact cannot be removed. You can only wash the wound abundantly with water.
If your eyes are damaged, you should also wash them with plenty of water.
How to eliminate the harmful effects on the body of ozone? To do this, you need to try not to be on a gassed street in the hot daytime. Do not engage in sports in the cities outdoors in the sundial. It is better to do this in the morning or in the evening indoors or in the suburban area.
Adequate ventilation should be provided at the workplace (exhaust) at workplaces. Protective equipment, ozone level sensors, tightness of containers should be used. The time spent in the contact zone should be limited.
Household ozonizers should be bought only from a reliable trusted manufacturer who provides clear instructions for the product, gives a guarantee for it, indicates precautions when working with it.
Such a harmless and even seemingly useful substance can be very poisonous. Ozone poisoning can carry severe consequences not only for the respiratory system, but also for the reproductive, nervous, cardiovascular systems. Ozone is a known carcinogen. Its prolonged exposure leads to cancer in the body. Everyone, especially those who are in contact with ozone in industry, should know the main symptoms of poisoning and be able to provide first aid to the victim.