Ah, the New Year: a time to look back on the successes and lessons of the previous year, and a chance to look forward to what lies ahead. Here at the O3Zone of WQP, the International Ozone Association (IOA) has been proud to bring you the latest application information and success stories for ozone technology. I recently had the distinct privilege of speaking with two leaders of the IOA to pick their brains about what’s new in the world of ozone. I interviewed Dr. Rip Rice, chairman of the Agri-Food Task Force and founding member of the IOA, and Paul Overbeck, executive director of the Pan American Group of the IOA.
Ozone has had FDA approval for food use for a full five years. How do you think the agricultural and food processing markets will embrace ozone technology in 2007, given the two highly publicized pathogen outbreaks (E. coli and Salmonella) this past year?
Rice: People in the agri-food industry are learning more about the versatility of ozone and how to apply it safely to provide higher quality products.
It is important to realize that the U.S. FDA approved ozone in 2001 as an antimicrobial agent. It is equally important to understand what the FDA means when it uses the term “antimicrobial agent”—this is an agent that will guarantee 2-log reductions of targeted microorganisms. In most instances of E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, etc., 5-log reductions are required. An agent that meets that 5-log requirement is termed a “sanitizer” by the FDA. Although ozone is approved as an antimicrobial agent by the FDA, no one yet has petitioned the agency for approval of ozone as a sanitizer (except years ago, when ozone was approved as a sanitizer for bottled water plant lines).
This is not to say that there are no data showing ozone’s ability to provide 5-logreductions. In most cases, ozone can provide greater than 5-log reductions of E. coli and Listeria monocytogenes. German public health officials determined in the 1960s that ozone eradicated E. coli in swimming pool waters within 30 seconds. And the Japanese have been using ozone (generated by UV radiation) to control Listeria monocytogenes in food processing and packaging plants for about 10 years.
Overbeck: The agri-food industry should be a big area of growth for ozone in 2007, with some of the focus expanding from food processors into home applications. Consumers are becoming more concerned about the quality of food they’re getting and what they as individuals can do to deal with foodborne pathogens.
Bottled water historically has been a big market for ozone—do you think this trend will continue to grow?
Rice: Growth of ozone in the bottled water market should increase with that market. The bromate issue (that hit the municipal drinking water market in the early 1990s) has surely slowed the growth of ozone; however, some recent research studies by Cotruvo, Gordon et al. have shown that bromate ingested into the human stomach may be destroyed in the stomach. If this concept is proven (additional studies are being conducted now), it would mean that bromate ion in humans would never reach the kid-neys to cause cancers. Several more years of research and testing must be conducted before definitive conclusions can be reached.
What are the biggest challenges to the continued growth of the ozone industry?
Overbeck: The biggest challenge for the ozone industry is education. The air needs to be cleared about ozone, and a true story needs to be told. Legislators need to understand there are serious benefits when this technology is used correctly and controlled. The U.S. EPA has recognized ozone as one of the key processes of the future to meet the more stringent drinking water regulations. Now, professionals in other fields of endeavor need to learn the benefits of ozone in their areas.
Rice: As more examples of the money-saving and product quality improvement capabilities of ozone become available to those looking for such advantages, the number of ozone applications and the markets for ozone will increase.
My efforts for the past five years have been focused on the agri-food and air treatment industries. A big challenge in the agri-food industry is helping companies understand how ozone can actually save money, and at the same time provide higher quality products.
This is being addressed by the IOA/Pan American Group Agri-Food Task Force (AFTF), of which I am honored to be chairman. Last September, the AFTF approved for posting on the IOA/PAG website six “User Success Reports” (USRs), which are essentially case studies showing the monetary and agri-food product quality improvements that ozone is providing in successful commercial applications. The key is that ozone is saving money for its users. To access these USRs, go to www.io3a.org, then click on “Applications” on the home page.
Following this are six USRs dealing with various applications, from growth and storage of potatoes and onions, to grain processing and treatment of process water in food packaging plants, to ozone use in spraying garlic cloves. Several additional draft USRs are being developed by members of the AFTF.
In addition to agri-foods and air treatment, what are some other latent or new markets in which you see ozone growing strongly for 2007?
Rice: To cite just three:
Ozone and UV have been used in various areas as an effective combination of treatments for about 20 years. What is so powerful about using these technologies together? What do you expect to come out of the World Congress on Ozone and Ultraviolet Technologies in Los Angeles coming in August 2007?
Overbeck: Ozone and UV are two technologies that are now both on the EPA’s list of best available technology for meeting the final Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule (LT2ESWTR) as cited in the tool kit the agency recommends when dealing with certain contaminants in water.
Municipalities have to balance their focus between the immediate pathogenic contaminants and long-term health effects of potentially carcinogenic disinfection byproducts (DBPs). They have three goals: enhancing the filtration of particles, removing more organics (that can end up as harmful DBPs) and disinfecting hard-to-kill parasites. Three “weapons” are recommended: filtration, ozone and UV. These technologies can be applied individually or used in concert based on the source water categories.
Pre-oxidation with ozone followed by bio-active filtration reduces total organic carbon (TOC) and therefore the organics that can result in disinfection byproducts (DBPs) formation upon chlorination. With this process, enhanced coagulation improves filtration, and the combination of UV and ozone is able to disinfect the hard-to-kill parasites. The LT2ESWTR is going to increase the opportunity to move both ozone and UV into the treatment process, including membrane filtration. Along with membrane filtration, ozone and UV are the big things in the future for municipal water treatment.
World Congress on Ozone & Ultraviolet Technologies – Aug. 27 to 29, 2007
The IOA and IUVA will hold a joint World Congress on these synergistic, cutting-edge technologies that are benefiting public health and industry. The Congress will be held from Aug. 27 to 29, 2007, at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles, Calif.
This technical congress will showcase the multiple benefits ozone and UV bring to water, wastewater, air treatment and industrial processes. The U.S. EPA and World Health Organization have recognized ozone and Ultraviolet as “Best Available Technologies” for meeting the world’s most demanding public health issues. More than 5 billion gal per day of drinking water is treated with ozone in communities within a 400-mile radius of Los Angeles. Ozone and UV are also used in municipal wastewater treatment and water reclamation and reuse.