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Understanding Ozone - The Natural Way to Purify Air & Water©

Applying ozone (O3) to the wash formula, the waste water stream and the pre-treatment system, can reduce operating hours, chemical, water and energy costs. In this three-part series we’ll be exploring ozone and its many characteristics.

These have been some of the major tenants of our environmental survival plan. When looked at closely, we can see that REDUCE, REUSE AND RECYCLE (R3 ) when combined with the proper applications of ozone (O3 ), become a balanced formula in washroom procedures and practices. R3 = O3.

Every business person is interested in operating efficiently, effectively and at a profit. Samuel Gompers, a Labor leader from 1850- 1924 said “The worst crime against working people is a company which fails to operate at a profit". What is done to affect the bottom line in a positive way impacts on profitability.

We have heard many war stories about the benefits and short comings of ozone in treating laundry wash water. It is known and accepted that swimming pools used for the Olympics are treated with ozone --not chlorine. Most of our bottled drinking water and that of major communities, like San Francisco, treat drinking water with ozone. Air conditioning systems use ozone for chemical reduction and prevention of Legionnaires disease. Hot Tubs, autoclave and even an experimental process in Europe to stabilize Aids (HIV), make use of ozone. Ozone destroys bacteria and viruses through a process called “Lysing”. They are not weakened or dead they are gone. Most airborne bacteria are similarly destroyed. Removing odor and improving the environment.

We can all appreciate the reluctance of many people in our industry to replace other chemistry with that of ozone. We hear about mass transfer, having the proper pH and temperature, much like enzyme applications, affecting the proper results of these products. But many of those stories result from those who benefit from not using an economical chemistry system in the washroom or in the waste water treatment system. In fact, the laundry Industry is reluctant to utilize ozone in its operations. Perhaps the problem is not with ozone but with the application of ozone in the washroom. It could be a case of the right tool with the wrong mechanic.

Just The Facts
Conventional secondary waste-treatment methods do not remove all dissolved and suspended contaminants. To improve the COD (chemical oxygen demand) and destroy organic contaminants, surfactants and bacteria, an oxidation purification treatment with ozone has many advantages. Ozone’s high reactivity permits oxidation in a continuous process breaking down many compounds while removing color and odor. This technique has roughly doubled the rate of reduction of COD or total organic carbon in the water medium. (1)

The high oxidation power of ozone (disinfection, control of DBP's, taste and odor) also enhances the downstream coagulation, flocculation and filtration process. This process is sometimes referred to as micro flocculation. When this process occurs, there may be benefits in lower chemical dosage, longer filter runs, higher filtration rates and or lower filtered water turbidity. (2) This process also reduces or eliminates the VOC’s in the water.

The Environmental Alternative
Our rapid population and economic growth have placed increased demands on our water utilities. In some areas of California, some people are selling off their water rights due to an increasing Industrial water demand. Water production requirements coupled with rigorous quality standards for the finished treated water present more challenges. Disinfection requirements set forth in the Surface Water Treatment Rule along with other criteria prompted a major shift to ozone and other strong non-halogenated oxidants to replace chlorine. Ozone and like processes offer additional benefits including complete or partial oxidation of color, manganese, synthetic organic chemicals along with taste and odor causing compounds. Enhanced flocculation, coagulation, and sedimentation are some additional benefits. (3 & 4)

Jack J. Reiff is president of J. Reiff Consulting, Inc., doing business as WET - TECH, The Ozone People. A Washroom Technology Company specializing in washroom chemistry, water, water Reuse, Waste water & OZONE Treatment Systems, WET-TECH is based in Worcester Ma. He can be reached at or # 508-831-4229.


  1. Linde div of Union Carbide. "O & O - Rx for Pollution?" Chemical Engineering of McGraw Hill 2/70
  2. Carol H. Tale - “Latest study finds utilities satisfied with OZONE.) Water & Engineering Mgmt. 2/91
  3. Bruce W. Long/John R. Stukenberg/Steven N. Follmi - "Innovative Trends in Water Utility Industry". Water & Waste Water Digest May/June 91
  4. Elizabeth G. Fujikawa, Brett T. Farver, C. Michael Robson - "Ozonation in America: An Evolution of Success". Water Engineering and Mgmt. 10/89  

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Fire in Jail Laundry

DURHAM, N.C. — A fire in the laundry room at a County Jail in Durham damaged goods but required no evacuation. The fire, which originated in a dryer, damaged hundreds of uniforms. In addition to the lost goods, the jail’s laundry sustained water and smoke damage. The fire was extinguished by the sprinkler system that had been activated.