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Activated Oxygen and Ozone1

Oxygen, the Eighth Element: An Overview

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Oxygen is the eighth element of the periodic table, and has an atomic weight of 15.9994. Oxygen was the atomic weight standard of comparison for all other elements until 1961 when the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry adopted carbon 12 as the new basis.

Oxygen comprises about 49% of the mass of Earth's crust, and 28% of the mass of Earth as a whole. It is the 3rd most common element in the known universe.

It's not surprising, then, that oxygen is the most important element to all higher forms of biological life. While it may be true that we are "carbon based" life forms, without a sustained source of oxygen, we are only able to stay alive for a few moments. Perhaps it would be more accurate to state that we are oxygen-based life forms existing in carbon-based containers.

Today, oxygen comprises between 19% and 20.95% of the air we breath. Carbon Dioxide levels are currently rising at a rate of about 1.2 PPM per year. In 1945 and 1946, Swiss scientists measured atmospheric oxygen levels at 22%. This is a drastic change in air quality. If this frightening trend continues, the consequences may be disastrous.

Scientists, using soil sample analysis to study oxygen levels during the Permian Period, have discovered that the oxygen content during this very "life friendly" period was 30%. Furthermore, these scientists also discovered that oxygen levels during the "Great Dying" period, where massive extinction events occured, had dropped to 16%, eventually "bottoming out" at 12%. During this time when oxygen was at its lowest levels, 90% of all marine life died, as well as nearly 75% of all land-based plants and animals.

"Oxygen dropped from its highest level to its lowest level ever in only 20 million years.."
" ...Animals that once were able to cross mountain passes quite easily suddenly had their movements severely restricted."
- Raymond Huey of the University of Washington2

The shock of an 18% drop in oxygen content over a 20 million year period can hardly compare with the reality humanity is faced with in modern times: A 2-3% drop in oxygen levels in less than 100 years. Activated oxygen-based technologies may one day become a critical component to the healthy survival of mankind, if they aren't already.

- - -

The oxygen we breathe is called molecular dioxygen ( O2 ), a very stable homonuclear diatomic molecule. "Atomic" refers to a single atom of an element, and "di" refers to "two" atoms of the same element bound together. "Homonuclear" refers to the elements being bound together in their elemental state, without a chemical bond with any other element. Our Earth's atmosphere is made up of over 99% diatomic molecules ( O2 and N2 ).

Beyond O2: Activated Oxygen and Ozone

Single Oxygen ATom
[ A single Oxygen atom ]

Diatomic Oxygen Molecule - O2Ozone Creation in the Chapman Cycle:3

O2 + hv ---> 2O ( O + O ) - Energy-- in this case, hard ultraviolet light ( 185 nm - 220 nm )-- breaks the molecular oxygen bond, producing two, independent atoms of oxygen. Any excess energy left after the reaction is transferred to oxygen as kinetic energy.

M + O + O2 ---> M + O3 - An oxygen atom reacts with an oxygen molecule to form ozone. A third body (denoted as M) is required to conserve momentum and allow this reaction to occur. The third body is also required to carry away the kinetic energy released by the spontaneous reaction between the oxygen atom and oxygen molecule.

The resulting molecule of ozone is extremely unstable. It will rapidly degrade while decomposing matter, or, in cases where little or no reactive matter is present, it will degrade by loss of energy, reverting back to O2.



Ozone Molecule & Activated OxygenEvery atom of oxygen has six electrons in the outer orbital valence shell. However ( in its solid state form ), it takes eight electrons to completely fill the outer orbital shell. One can see why O2 is so predominant in nature. Each atom of oxygen shares two electrons ( with a total of 4 electrons being shared ), and thus both atoms of oxygen have filled their outer orbital shells, thus reaching a chemically stable state.

Looking at the diagram, one can see that with ozone ( O3 ), there is one stable bond between two molecules of oxygen. Then, there is a third atom of oxygen, which has the standard six electrons in the outer shell. This third atom, however, is "borrowing" exactly one electron from the O2 molecule.

It is this 3rd, negatively charged atom of oxygen that is the key component in activated oxygen. It is what makes ozone the 2nd most powerful oxidizer in nature ( second only to flourine ).

When ozone reacts with any substance, ( as an example, 2O3 ---> 3O2 ), this third atom of oxygen is liberated and is responsible for all oxidation "work" done.






What Does Activated Oxygen, by way of Ozonation, Do?

The Disinfecting power of Ozone: Ozone kills germs that cause decay.


When a high enough concentration of residual ozone ( ozone that is not instantly reacting with substances in the environment ) comes in contact with bacteria, the ozone reacts. Kinetic energy is released, and the single "activated" atom of oxygen is liberated, destroying the cell wall of the bacteria. Once the cell wall is ruptured, the cytoplasm is dispersed, and thus it is impossible for the bacteria to reactivate. This is a process known as cell lysing.

Due to the fact that the ozone does not need to penetrate the cell wall, activated oxygen kills pathogens 3,125 times faster than chlorine, and without any chemical toxic residue left behind by the ozone.

How much ozone is needed for disinfection? Ozone's kill rate is proportional to its residual concentration. In one study, at 500 to 600 micrograms of ozone per m3 for one hour, 99% reduction in all bacterial species was observed 5

The above studies were done by testing ozone against air-borne bacteria. In fact, ozone kills bacteria 6,000 times faster than chlorine, when used in water.


Ozone eliminates viruses in a similiar manner as bacteria. Ozone breaks apart lipid molecules at sites of multiple bond configurations. Once the lipid envelope of the virus is fragmented, its DNA or RNA core cannot survive.

With non-enveloped viruses, also called "naked viruses", ozone reacts with the amino acids and capsid proteins, forming protein hydroxides and protein hydroperoxides.

Viruses have no defense against oxidative stress.


While fungus is more resistant to ozone than bacteria and viruses, ozone still gets the job done. Fungus inhibited and destroyed by ozone include: Candida, Aspergilus, Histoplasma, Actinomycoses, and Cryptococcus. The presence of many disulfide bonds had been noted in these types of virii, making this a possible site for oxidative inactivation by ozone.

The Cleansing Power of Ozone: Activated Oxygen Oxidizes and Decomposes Matter

Ozone oxidizes and/or ionizes many forms of matter. The great benefit of this process, considering practical applications, is ozone's ability to alter, decompose and/or neutralize materials that are toxic, without creating additional toxic compounds from the use of ozone ( as is the case when using chemical compounds ).

Ozone will oxidize metals (except gold, platinum, and iridium) to oxides of the metals in their highest oxidation state:

2 Cu2+ + 2 H+ + O3 ---> 2 Cu3+ + H2O + O2

In many cases, these oxidized metals are far easier to remove from any environment than when in their elemental form... Especially when methods of sorption are used in the removal process!6

Ozone transforms oxides into peroxides:

SO2 + O3 ---> SO3 + O2

Ozone will convert cyanides into cyanates ( which are one thousand times less toxic ):

CN- + O3 ---> CNO- + O2

Activated Oxygen Removes Pesticides and Antibiotics from foods7

Safe concentrations of ozone, when used by bubbling ozone gas through water, can actually decontaminate fruits and vegetables. Not only has research shown that many of the most dangerous pesticides can be removed via ozonation, but this process can extend the shelf life of foods by greatly reducing bacterial counts in the produce.

Furthermore, the same research has demonstrated that antibiotics in meats can also be removed via ozonation. Utilizing ozonation with food prior to consumption results in a great reduction of the toxic chemical load that is present in modern produce and meats.



Bibliography and References

1 Written by Jason R. Eaton, copyright reserved, 2006

2 According to Raymond Huey and Peter Ward of the University of Washington, as quoted in the April 8, 2005 edition of the journal Science.

3 From "Modeling Stratospheric Ozone Chemistry", Erica Harvey and Robert Sweeney, Fairmont State College

4 The disinfecting power of ozone is well-established scientific fact. Ozone's effect on bacteria, mold, fungi, and virii, as well as the methods of action, have been well documented. Here, we site only a few references:

Pope, Daniel et al: The Effects of Ozone on Legionella Pneumophilia and Other Bacterial Populations in Cooling Towers; Fresh Water Institute and Department of Biology, Rensselear Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York, 12181.

Thanomsub B et al:Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, Srinakharinwirot University, Bangkok 10110, Thailand, "Effects of ozone treatment on cell growth and ultrastructural changes in bacteria", Journal of General Applied Microbiology. 2002 Aug;48(4):193-9.

5 Heindel T.H., Steib R., and Botzenhart K. of the University Tubingen, microbiology studies from 1994, 1995, and 1996.

6 September 1, 1996, through August 31, 1997, "MERCURY ADSORPTION IN SIMULATED FLUE GAS OF COAL- FIRED BOILERS BY OXIDATION".ICCI Project Number: 96-1/2.4A-3, G. A. Kudlac, McDermott Technology, Inc. Project Manager: Ron Carty, ICCI

7 Numerous ozonation studies have been done that demonstrate that ozonating produce in water, by bubbling ozone gas beneath the produce in the water, removes pesticides and antibiotics from the produce. Here, we source two such studies:

Comparative Laboratory Tests Conducted on Ozonated Food

"Use of Ozone to Improve the Safety of Fresh Fruits & Vegetables", Food Technology Magazine (October 1999)

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