June 25, 2009

Efficient ozone detection method created

U.S. researchers have developed a fluorescent substance that can detect harmful ozone molecules in the air as well as in the body.

University of Pittsburgh scientists said their fluorescent substance glows bright green when exposed to even minute amounts of ozone, which is a harmful pollutant and lung irritant. But the researchers said ozone is also a possible natural weapon that certain research suggests the human body employs against infections.

The scientists said their simple and fast-acting ozone detector can function as a consumer device to measure surrounding ozone, or as a laboratory tool that could provide insight into ozone's effect on the human body and its debated role in the human immune system.

As you inhale air, you inhale ozone, and it is not known how deeply it penetrates the lung or its effect on the body, said Professor Kazunori Koide, the study's corresponding author. Our method is quick, so people will know they've exceeded safe levels before they suffer the symptoms, and it's highly specific to ozone, so it will prevent having false data.

The study that included Professors George Leikauf and Bruce Pitt, Assistant Professor Claudette St. Croix and researchers Shin Ando and Amanda Garner appears in the journal Nature Chemistry.