Something in the world of floating have you stumped?
Ashkahn and Graham talk about Ozone in this episode. Everything from different types of ozonators to the efficacy of it as a water treatment system compared to other systems.
Ozone is very effective, but there are concerns about its use that aren’t present in other types of water treatment, and fortunately the guys give us a lot of information on what to consider when putting together our own systems.
Listen to Just the Audio
Transcription of this episode… (in case you prefer reading)
Ashkahn: Okey, dokey.
Ashkahn: How’s it going?
Graham: I’m Graham.
Ashkahn: I’m Ashkahn.
Graham: And today’s question is-
Graham: “Are there any concerns I should have about using ozone?”
Ashkahn: You Graham?
Graham: Well no. The person writing the question. Unless their name is Graham too?
Ashkahn: It could be.
Graham: We don’t read names over the airwaves. So, I’ll wink twice if Graham was their name.
Ashkahn: Okay. Oh, it was Graham.
Graham: You know what a wink is?
Ashkahn: Okay. Ozone.
So, it’s one of the methods that manufacturers use for disinfecting float tank water.
Ashkahn: And it’s good at killing things.
Graham: And actually cleaning walls too, potentially. Which is not true of things that go into the water normally.
Ashkahn: Yeah, so ozone is a gaseous … what happens is you have some device in your float room, near the filtration system, called an ozonator. It’s this box that’s usually mounted on the wall. And that’s taking oxygen, O2, and doing some crazy stuff to it and turning it into O3.
Graham: We’re not engineers right?
Ashkahn: Or chemists. Then that gas, that ozone gas, goes out of a tube, and that tube connects typically somewhere in your filtration system. For float tanks it’s often connecting to a piece of piping or what’s sometimes called an injector manifold, or some sort of way of getting it in. In bigger facilities, like pools and stuff where you may see this, sometimes they have contact chambers where the ozone is injected into a big thing and they let it sit in there for a period of time before moving it to the rest of the system. But for float tanks typically, just kind of a tube, straight into another tube.
Graham: The old tub-in-tube solution, yeah.
Ashkahn: We’ll draw you a diagram in the show notes and the diagram will use at least 5 different colors.
Graham: So, it’s an interesting one because it has some concerns that other forms of disinfection don’t, for float tanks. Specifically, just the nature of ozone being a gas can lead to potential problems.
Ashkahn: Yeah, a lot of it is … the air quality stuff comes up with both chlorine and bromine too. It’s kind of in that same world of some concerns over air quality. Basically it’s because once the ozone is in the liquid it’s traveling through, that liquid then comes into the float tank and the ozone starts off-gassing from the water. How long that takes can vary. I’ve heard everything from 30 seconds to about 15 minutes, in terms of length of time for ozone to dissipate out of the liquid. That’s the point where things get a little hairy in terms of air quality.
Basically, you don’t want to be breathing in a lot of ozone gas. And there are limits. OSHA here in the United States has a limit of what they consider a safe work environment, which is they want to see less than 0.1 ppm of ozone gas in the air. Which they are doing over an 8 hour average. Certain other places like the state of Washington, in their float tank code or guideline, has a limit, kind of a hard limit of 0.1 ppm. They just don’t want to see it ever go above that number. Those numbers are things there’s also immediate exposure to ozone that could hurt you in higher quantities.
So if there’s enough ozone gas, you could have immediate health effects. If there’s low levels, you can have long-term health effects, typically some sort of respiratory issue that can come up after small amounts of exposure over long periods of time.
Graham: That to me is really where the concern lies more. I guess other than the unit malfunctioning maybe and all of a sudden releasing a crazy amount of ozone gas. But if it’s operating normally, I guess … and then there are different ways to implement this obviously, both with tools to measure it and make sure ozone doesn’t go above certain levels or machinery to actually evacuate the air and give a good signal with the ozone’s done being evacuated. If, for example, you were to build your own float tank and attach an ozonator to it, what I’d be concerned about is that exposure over time. Right? Even in a commercial facility your staff are going in to clean the rooms between every person that’s in there. Often when they’re cleaning the rooms is when the filter’s running. So that means that if ozone is getting into the air around the float tank or into the room, you risk having this kind of exposure, which even at low levels for your staff members, day in and day out, being in there could cause some lung damage.
Ashkahn: It’s one of the interesting things about ozone air quality, as compared to the stuff that people bring up about chlorine and bromine, is that with chlorine and bromine that stuff has always been produced. The disinfectant byproducts that come off of that. So even while someone is in the float tank floating, them being in there and stuff that’s coming off their body interacting with chlorine can create those disinfectant byproducts. Or they’re moving around a lot, that can help stuff in the water become gaseous and it will sit on the water surface, which is right where they’re breathing. So there’s a lot of concern or way of understanding how those disinfection byproducts may be very present for customers. With ozone, one of the interesting things is that you’re not continuously creating ozone in the duration of someone’s float. Right? It’s kicking on and being created during the filtration process and then once the filtration process is over, it’s degassing in whatever length of time it takes to degas. Then you’re not then again continuously pumping ozone in.
So it is a concern for your employees and stuff, like Graham said. That’s the same time you’re in the room cleaning everything. But one of the interesting things is if you can handle that ozone gas or if you’ve tracked it so that it’s going well or you have a ventilation system or you’ve found a way to solve that part where it’s on and it’s degassing, then once someone’s actually in the system, you don’t have that same air quality consideration that you would for chlorine and bromine. So it’s a little bit more of an easy to solve problem, or a solvable problem, than chlorine and bromine air quality is.
Graham: That’s kind of the only concern that I have about ozone is that air quality concern and different things that could lead to that.
Ashkahn: I have another concern.
Graham: What is it?
Ashkahn: Just that it’s hard to measure. Unlike some other things, for a float center to be able to measure the efficacy of their ozonator is not the easiest thing to do on site. It requires a little bit more, either trusting the manufacturer, having some documentation or testing in the first place to know the scope of how much your ozone is working. So that the other downside.
Graham: It is kind of like UV in that sense. These mechanical sort of disinfection machines, even though you’re injecting ozone, it’s not like you have this residual chemical that becomes something that you can monitor perhaps a little more simply.
Ashkahn: Yeah. It’s even a little bit more difficult .., with UV, you can have a sensor, and maybe there’s an ozonator that can have a sensor to show how much ozone is producing or … but I’ve heard a lot less about that. Often you’re either measuring with a dissolved ozone thing or you’re testing the ozone in the air to extrapolate how much ozone is being injected into the system. There’s a little bit more gaps between what you’re measuring and what’s being produced in the first place.
Graham: Yeah. So I guess making sure that it’s working and making sure it’s not working too well. Most likely the hardest things.
Ashkahn: Hitting that sweet spot.
Ashkahn: But other than that, the nice things about ozone-
Graham: Yes, that’s what I was going to get to before you interrupted me. Go ahead, you can take the nice things.
Ashkahn: It is, if we’re comparing it just to chlorine and bromine or UV or hydrogen peroxide, it’s really powerful. From what I can tell, it’s actually the most effective killing agent of each of those things when used on it’s own. So it’s really good at killing stuff.
Graham: And again, I also think one of the nice things is that if you implement it correctly, it can actually sanitize the walls of the float tank as well and contribute to an overall cleaner environment because it does go into the air and the walls are exposed to it.
Ashkahn: There’s this funny kind of push and pull that comes with ozone where the benefits and the downsides fight against each other a little bit. Which has to do with … one of the nice things about ozone is it has kind of a further reach than UV does. So if you think about UV, UV’s only really affecting things when the liquid is moving through that UV chamber that’s in your filtration system. As opposed to something like chlorine which is ubiquitous and kind of in the liquid everywhere, right? So UV has a little bit more reliance on making sure you’re actually doing the right number of turnovers or you have a reservoir system or you have some way of making sure the liquid is properly going through your filtration system enough times or with enough mixing that things are being exposed to UV. Ozone is kind of that, it is being injected in the filtration system and that’s where the most potency is happening and it’s dissipating relatively quickly, but it does go out and mix into the actual float tank and hits some liquid that maybe never made it through the filtration system or extra exposure and go up on the walls and things.
Graham: And then, chlorine, bromine, hydrogen peroxide just sort of chill out there and hang out in the water.
Ashkahn: Yeah. But there are ways of mitigating the air quality concerns by trying to stop the ozone from really getting out into the rest of the float tank. So it has the benefit … you have these things called mixing degas vessels, or sometimes those things, like I said, those contact chambers, things like that are devices that attempt to not have too much ozone go back into the thing. The mixing degas vessels are made for pools that have vinyl liners because ozone can damage vinyl so they built some things to try to stop the ozone from going back into vinyl lined pools and prevent that damage.
So the benefit is you can help the air quality issue and the downside is you’re stopping the ozone from getting into the float tank to mix with other stuff or to go up and go on the walls and do any extra cleaning there. What helps one thing hurts the other. That’s one of the tough parts about figuring out how to best use ozone.
Graham: Random footnote too. That’s initially how chlorine was used as well. We started using it for drinking water purification in the water sanitation world. It would be introduced into the system in really high quantities and then stripped out afterwards. Which is sort of interesting. So was more of this inline system rather than something that pervaded everywhere. Anyway, little chlorine history for you there.
Ashkahn: Been reading that chlorine history book?
Graham: I have. It’s really interesting stuff. This is what we do for spare time now. I don’t know what’s wrong with us, it’s become a real problem.
So back to ozone.
Ashkahn: The other good thing is that it’s also a good oxidizer. So as opposed to just being able to kill things, it’s able to eat up organic stuff in there, which you know UV is not like the greatest oxidizer but it is good at killing things. So that doesn’t always hold true of something that is good at killing stuff.
Graham: So are there any concerns that you should have about using ozone?
Yeah, definitely. I think there are actually concerns no matter what form of disinfection you’re using for your float tanks. Even just with filtration, making sure your filters are properly sized and stuff like that. So approaching all of this stuff with caution, no matter what type of system you’re using, is very prudent.
Can those concerns be addressed? Totally, there are in fact different ways that you might allay your own concerns and feel comfortably using ozone and not exposing your staff to dangerous levels of it.
Ashkahn: It’s a good conversation to have with a manufacturer. If you’re looking to buy float tanks and the one you’re interested in comes with ozone. Have this conversation. How do I know the ozone is powerful enough and how much is coming out and that part is effective? And how do I know that there’s not an air quality concern or a health risk from exposure to ozone gas from using the system in my float room, which is not going to have an insane amount of ventilation and all this other stuff.
Graham: And ask your doctor while you’re at it. That’s the answer to a previous question. Anything else on ozone?
Ashkahn: Other than the fact that all of this stuff is incredibly complicated. Nothing is really black and white. We only know as much as we’ve gleaned from our years of looking into this. So take this very much as a starting point and not a totality of everything there is to know about ozone.
Graham: Yeah, this is not one of the three things that we can say with confidence in the world. Cool. Well thanks for the question. If you have your own.
Ashkahn: What should I do?
Graham: They should go on down to floattanksolutions.com/podcast. I’m glad you asked.
Ashkahn: That’s a good suggestion.
Graham: And yeah send them in. We love getting them.
Graham: Send us other stuff too. We’ll take anything. Pancake, sandwich, yeah.
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