Process of Oxidation

Introduction
Chapter 1: Odor and the Science of Olfaction
Chapter 2: Exploration of the Sources of Odor
Chapter 3: The Interrelationship Between Microorganisms and Odor
Chapter 4: Effective Odor Detection Techniques
Chapter 5: Process of Deodorization
Chapter 6: Process of Oxidation
Chapter 7: Process of Enzymatic Action
Chapter 8: Process of Chemical Deodorization
Chapter 9: Process of Sealing
Chapter 10: Deodorization Equipment and Supplies
Chapter 11: Remediating Protein and Chemical Odors
Chapter 12: Death Scene Restoration

In addition to deodorization, oxidation presents another avenue through which disagreeable odors can be addressed. In fundamental terms, oxidation is defined as the interaction of oxygen molecules and other substances. More technically speaking, oxidation is the loss of one or more electron when oxygen and some other substance come into contact. In some situations, the process of oxidation results in the alteration of foul odor being emitted from a source.

As an aside, reduction is the opposite of oxidation. Through the process of reduction, at least one electron is added to substances that come into contact with one another.

Oxidation has an impact on specific chemical compound groups. As it turns out, these are compound groups that tend to underpin a significant array of foul odors for which remediation is sought. These compound groups are:

  • Sulfur-based compounds
  • Hydrogen-based compounds
  • Nitrogen-based compounds
  • Hydrogen-based compounds

Types of Oxidizing Agents

As mentioned at the start of this chapter, oxidation can be utilized to address certain types of offensive or foul odors. There are a number of oxidizing agents that can be utilized for this purpose. The most common types of oxidizing agents are:

  • Halogens
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Hydroxyls
  • Ozone

Halogens

One category of oxidizing agents are halogens. Halogens are a group of elements found on the periodic table that are chemically related. There are five halogens:

  • Fluorine
  • Chlorine
  • Bromine
  • Iodine
  • Astatine

Chlorine, bromine, and iodine are utilized as disinfectants. Indeed,  they are widely utilized as disinfectants, not only in this day and age, but for an extended period of time in the past.

The term “halogen” means “salt producing. The most common types of salts produced by the reaction of halogen with different metals are:

  • Calcium fluoride
  • Silver bromide
  • Potassium iodide
  • Sodium chloride (common table salt)

Hydrogen Peroxide

Another oxidizing agent sometimes utilized to remediate a foul odor is hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical compound that consists of two hydrogen atoms and two oxygen atoms. Hydrogen peroxide commonly is utilized as an oxidizer, bleaching agent, and antiseptic.

Hydrogen peroxide can be employed in a number of different ways when it comes to odor remediation. In addition to be being applied topically to the surface of items thought to be an odor source, hydrogen peroxide can also be used as a vapor for room sterilization and the elimination of foul odors.

Hydroxyls

The foundation of hydroxyls is one atom of oxygen bonded to one atom of hydrogen. (Water is one hydrogen atom bonded to two atoms of water). Hydroxyls are formed when water vapor interacts with UV-C radiation from the sun.

Hydroxyls have the demonstrable ability to clean, sanitize, and freshen air. Hence, hydroxyls are utilized in order to remediate a number of things:

  • Foul odors
  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Mold

Ozone

Another powerful oxidant utilized in foul air remediation in some instances is ozone. Ozone has a chemical formulation that consist of a trio of oxygen molecules. 

Ozone occurs in nature. People on Earth are exposed to small amounts of ozone during lightening storms. Ozone has a distinct pungent smell. With that said, the smell associated with ozone is far less offensive than the foul odors it is called upon to eliminate. 

Ozone has been utilized as a means of eliminating foul odors from decades. Ozone was first consistently utilized by drycleaners as a means of eliminating persistent foul odors from clothing. Apparel was hung in a room and a precursor of a modern-day ozone generator was utilized to create the gas. The clothing was subjected to ozone for a period of 24 to 48 hours.

Ozone is effective at combating foul odors associated with incomplete combustion and decomposition of animal and human remains. Ozone gas is discharged into an area requiring foul odor remediation through what is known as an ozone generator.

Attention must be paid to the regulation of ozone generators in the state of California. Although the state of California has not completely banned ozone generators, the California Air Resources Board has placed significant restrictions on how and when they can be utilized. In order to be lawfully utilized in California, an ozone generator must be certified by the California Air Resources Board.

At the heart of the use restriction on ozone generators in California is the amount of ozone that can be released from the device. In order to be certified for lawful use in California, an ozone generator cannot emit ozone in an amount above 50 parts per billion.

Ozone gas is toxic. Thus, exposure to it must be limited. Exposure to ozone can cause disorientation as well as damage to the respiratory system.

Signs that a person has inhaled a dangerous amount of ozone include:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Bloody nose

Prolonged exposure to ozone, including ozone emitted via an ozone generator, specifically can result in:

  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • Heart attack
  • Death

Specific safety precautions must be followed when ozone is utilized to remediate foul odors. These safety steps are:

  • All life forms must be removed from the area in which ozone will be utilized (this includes people, pets, and plants)
  • Warning signs must be placed at all entrances into a space in which ozone will be released
  • Entrances must be fully secured or locked whole ozone use is underway
  • The area in which ozone is released must be continually monitored
  • Following the use of ozone, the space must be ventilated for two hours before life forms return to the area

Now that you’ve been presented with information about how deodorization and oxidation can be utilized to combat foul odors, we move forward to yet another strategy. Another means by which foul odors can be remediated is through what technically is known as enzymatic action. The next chapter in this guidebook is dedicated to explaining enzymatic action and foul odor elimination to you.

Next: Chapter 7: Process of Enzymatic Action