Originally discovered in the 19th Century, ozone, a form of activated oxygen generally produced during lighting storms and continuously occurring in the stratosphere due to the action of ultraviolet (UV) rays, is being rediscovered in the 21st century. This naturally occurring compound is now being artificially produced and used in large quantities.
In 1886 ozone was recognized as a disinfectant for water and in 1891 the first pilot plant in Germany proved ozone effective against bacteria. Europe has for over100 years used ozone to treat drinking water and as a sanitation agent. Ozone is one of the earth’s best and strongest natural oxidizers ranking well ahead of chlorinated products.
Chlorine, however, became the chemical treatment of choice after WWI, when the chemical industry found economical methods to produce it. Today, scientists are finding that when chlorine (and other halogen chemicals) reacts with the organic matter dangerous halogenated hydrocarbon by-products such as trihalomethanes (TMH’s) are produced. When these are found in drinking water they are known as carcinogens and their levels strictly regulated by the EPA.