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56417.  Wed Mar 01, 2006 4:35 pm Reply with quote

Q: Where would you go if you fancied a lungful of ozone?

Not to the seaside. This is Menocchio's - hopefully he'll post some more. Meanwhile, Mat has a Mythcon column on the same subject which he will doubtless share with us.

56422.  Wed Mar 01, 2006 4:52 pm Reply with quote


THE MYTH: Seaside air is good for you because it is full of the health-giving gas, ozone, which gives coastal areas their characteristic smell. Go on, boy, get your nose out of that book and open your lungs up!

THE "TRUTH": The seaside doesn't smell of ozone - it smells of rotting seaweed, which releases a mixture of sulphur compounds. This is the odour which mid-Victorians mistook for ozone. Their error was great news for entrepreneurs in seaside towns; “Ozone Hotels” can still be found in Australasia. Ozone, an allotrope of oxygen, was first identified in 1840. For decades it was viewed by many medical scientists as a cure-all, which could be used in enclosed spaces, where the danger of infection was greatest, to neutralise disease-causing effluvia. Gradually, the miasma theory of disease was displaced in the consensus by the germ theory, and ozonisation fell from fashion. The myth of the ozone-rich sea breeze, however, has lived on in folklore. One thing’s for certain: a good lungful of pure ozone would do your respiratory system irreparable damage.

SOURCES: There’s a concise account of ozone’s history and properties at The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering’s site, _Does ozone make you sick?_, by Professor Ian D. Rae.

DISCLAIMER: Research into ozone as a water cleaner, less environmentally harmful than chlorine, apparently continues - so were the Victorians right after all? And is seaside air good for you, with or without ozone? If you know, send us a saucy postcard.

56425.  Wed Mar 01, 2006 5:01 pm Reply with quote

I used to have an air ioniser in my bedroom in the 80s. Was that a lot of tosh, too? It felt like it, even at the time - just attracted a lot of grime which stuck to the wall immediately behind it.

56490.  Thu Mar 02, 2006 6:18 am Reply with quote

I used to have one as well, Flash, and always took its power to attract dirt as being a good sign. Mine came with a little tester - since there is nothing to show you that the machine is actually doing anything. You held this little thing in front of the ioniser and it lit up, which proved ... well, everything, I suppose ...

As you say, it felt like tosh even at the time, but they are still being sold in vast numbers.


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