It has been a few years since the unhealthy fad of ozone generators swept through Thailand and it seems that they are back again. The Bangkok Post has a tradition of copying long complimentary blurbs or quotes from a product's website and presenting them as their article. Saturday's story, "Where there's smoke," is no exception.
Terry King writes: The extract below comes from the Bangkok Post, July 23, 2005. A Google search shows that the text comes directly from the website of the company selling the device concerned. Scientifically it looks like an April fool's day joke--oxygen atoms chasing germs and then exploding. This is nuclear fission and oxygen atoms are not fissionable. Below is a US Department of Health and Human Services quote (about devices like this). I have emailed the Post about this it will be interesting to see whether I get a response.
From the Post article: "Using a specific frequency of ultraviolet light, an oxygen molecule can be temporarily broken up into three atoms, known as ozone, instead of its normal two. The third atom will then 'search' for a contaminant, like a germ, to attach to. After latching onto the one, the atom 'explodes', destroying both itself and the germ. The remaining two oxygen atoms then recombine to achieve their usual molecular state,'' explained Mr Logan.
(Source: Bangkok Post, July 23, 2005)
The following extracts are taken from the website of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS which comes under the US government Department of Health and Human Services):
HOW OZONE DISTURBS YOUR BODY -- Inhaled ozone travels down the windpipe and enters the lungs through the large bronchial tubes, which branch into smaller airways, or bronchioles. At the end of the bronchioles are tiny air sacs called alveoli, which fill up and expand like little balloons to put oxygen into the bloodstream. Ozone primarily injures these key oxygen exchangers, the alveoli, along with the bronchioles. Animals also suffer from ozone. Studies demonstrate how ozone exposure injures their lung cells and causes unusual changes in lung tissue. Other studies have shown that ozone can make people more susceptible to bacterial pneumonia, a potential killer. People with existing lung diseases--asthma, bronchitis, or emphysema--are particularly vulnerable to the respiratory effects of ozone. There are also particularly sensitive individuals.
Having just read a bit about ozone, you might think it darn odd that someone might want to breathe more of it--or want you to. But, despite Federal Trade Commission and state actions against their claims, there remain people who want to take some money from you in exchange for an "air cleaner" or "air freshener" that claims to work by generating ozone. You can read a long report at http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/ozonegen.html on why this is a silly and potentially harmful idea. The bottom line is this: To generate enough ozone to be potentially effective, the ozone equipment would have to produce dangerous amounts of ozone. Contrary to suggestions from some sales people, no federal agency approves, much less recommends, ozone generators for use in occupied spaces.
There are other kinds of air cleaners you can buy. Some use high efficiency particle arrestance (HEPA) filters or charcoal to work safely, according to a California consumer bulletin in 1998. But as for the cleaners using ozone: The bulletin states that air cleaners that rely on ozone generation just don't destroy enough microbes, remove enough odor sources or reduce indoor pollutants enough to provide health benefits--and "may contribute to eye and nose irritation or other respiratory health problems" and "can cause damage to building materials and electronic devices."
More scams and frauds:
Medical scam from the Post: Prognos - February 19, 2005
Tsunami warning on December 30 based on quackery - December 31, 2004
The anti-mosquito program - August 1, 2002
|Three crucial facts about ozone:
Ozone does not clean air
Ozone will not take odors out of the air
Breathing ozone is harmful
California Department of Health Services,
Ozonic fined for false claims
Excerpted from the Bangkok Post, September 8, 2001
....Krasae Chanawong, PM's Office minister and chairman of the consumer agency, said the advertisement for Ozonic would be banned and the product's manufacturer, Izonic International Co, fined 50,000 baht for publicising misinformation.
He said the ad incorrectly claimed the product could combat allergies, kill bacteria and viruses and clean formalin-tainted vegetables, fruits and seafood....
Health Canada names names: Don't
buy these generators!
...Consumer Reports (1992), the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) (Boeniger, 1995), and the U.S. EPA (1995) concluded that tabletop and room unit ozone generators are not effective in improving indoor air quality.
The FDA has set a limit of 0.05 ppm of ozone for medical devices. A small percentage of cleaners that claim a health benefit are listed by the FDA and these devices conform to FDA regulations. However, ozone generators, negative ion generators, and certain other electronic air cleaners that are not listed by the FDA, or cannot otherwise prove that their ozone emission levels are lower than 0.05 ppm, may produce levels of ozone recognized as unsafe for humans and are not recommended for use in occupied spaces because of the risk of generation of ozone. For similar reasons, the American Lung Association does not suggest the use of these products.
FAQ from Health Canada
Q5. What are the health effects of breathing ozone?
A5. Ozone is a powerful oxidizing agent and is highly toxic. In clinical studies, adverse effects have been observed in normal individuals at concentrations as low as 80 ppb. Concentrations of 2,000 to 4,000 ppb can cause irritation to the eyes within six minutes. Daily intermittent exposure to concentrations above 5,000 ppb can cause incapacitating lung congestion. Epidemiological and human clinical studies have shown a definite link between increases in outdoor ozone levels and increases in adverse health effects, including small lung function changes, inflammation, increases in respiratory symptoms, increased use of medication, visits to doctors and hospital emergency departments, and hospitalization for respiratory ailments.
California Department of Health Services
...Over the last 20 years, billions of dollars have been spent in this country to reduce levels of smog and its main ingredient, ozone. Ironically, ozone generators are being marketed heavily as a means to "purify" indoor air...
Whether in its pure form or mixed with other chemicals, ozone can be harmful to health. When inhaled, ozone can damage the lungs. Relatively low amounts of ozone can cause chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath and, throat irritation. It may also worsen chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma as well as compromise the ability of the body to fight respiratory infections. Some studies show that ozone concentrations produced by ozone generators can exceed health standards even when one follows manufacturer's instructions. Many factors affect ozone concentrations including the amount of ozone produced by the machine(s), the size of the indoor space, the amount of material in the room with which ozone reacts, the outdoor ozone concentration, and the amount of ventilation. These factors make it difficult to control the ozone concentration in all circumstances.
Available scientific evidence shows that, at concentrations that do not exceed public health standards, ozone is generally ineffective in controlling indoor air pollution. The concentration of ozone would have to greatly exceed health standards to be effective in removing most indoor air contaminants. In the process of reacting with chemicals indoors, ozone can produce other chemicals that themselves can be irritating and corrosive.
U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
OSHA letter not recommending the use of ozone generators
Medical scam from the Post:
Prognos - February 19, 2005
Thailand seems to be fertile ground for Western medical scams. Terry King writes: ...of interest in the February 4 Post supplement "The Magazine" is a new medical scam called the "prognos system" which claims to be able to diagnose and treat all sorts of disease by just touching various points on the skin with an electrode. A quote from the article: "Our treatments are usually in the form of frequencies. These are given to the body in one of two ways: either through water (taken in drops) or by a metal disk, which is stuck to the patient's abdomen with a very sticky plaster." This is presented as a news article in the magazine. I have attached a graphic that I found on a website promoting the prognos system in Europe.
A common ATM scam - February 19, 2002
Here's a PowerPoint presentation (622kb zipped) explaining a common ATM scam in Thai and English. Thanks to Don Entz for passing it along.
The anti-mosquito program - August 1, 2002
The Thai mosquito-repelling program has been upgraded and has again been covered on CNN. Slashdot has a thread too. However, one person posted this report from Rutgers: Hand-held electronic devices that rely on high-frequency sound to repel mosquitoes have become surprisingly popular in recent years .... Scientific studies have repeatedly shown that electronic mosquito repellers do not prevent host seeking mosquitoes from biting. In most cases, the claims made by distributors border on fraud. Another poster reports that the Linux version runs but seems to do nothing. One joker comments that if we are having problems with mosquitoes, cockroaches, and rats around our computers, we better move them indoors!