A perhaps lesser known application for Ozone is its ability to eliminate bacteria. Ozone is enriched oxygen and is nature’s powerful purifier. It is a short lived molecule that deodorises many organic and inorganic odours, both gaseous and particulate. It does this by a process of oxidation, permanently converting the odour into water vapour, carbon dioxide and other compounds. It kills germs by breaking down their protein structure.

Ozone Service Industries (OSI) is registered with the Gauteng Shared Services (GSSC) as a vendor and supplies all of the Forensic Pathology Mortuaries and most of the Government Hospitals with mortuary deodorising and sanitising equipment using ozone and ultra violet technologies. One particular example is the Roodepoort Mortuary in Johannesburg, where several units have been installed.

“All the Gauteng Forensic Pathology Mortuaries use our product” says Ian Wright, MD of OSI “and Roodepoort was one of the first. It has been a great success, and proven the value of the Airzones”.
The microbial structure of a cadaver depends on the surrounding atmosphere at the time of death such as drowning for example where the condition of the water will determine the micro organisms present. The mucus protection on the skin of the cadaver can contain several types of bacteria.

Adriaan Stander, Facility Manager: Forensic Pathology Services at the Roodepoort Mortuary confirms the benefits. “In 2003 when the mortuary was still a Police function a homemade device was demonstrated at the facility and one unit was left running for a week. We then wanted to procure these units, but unfortunately the budget did not allow us to do so. In 2006 the mortuary function was taken over by the Department of Health and this gave us the opportunity to contact OSI in order to install the ozonisers. They were officially installed in 2009”.

The elimination of bacteria is a difficult process, but the fact that most germs causing contamination are found on the outside surface of the cadaver means that treatment with ozone is very effective, even in small doses. Ozonisation actually prevents bacterial decomposition by destroying the bacteria, thus postponing post-mortem autolysis. As a result, rigor mortis is sustained for a longer period of time. This affects the preservation of the body favourably. Rinsing the body with water containing low concentrations of ozone helps to reduce the total bacterial presence on the surface of the body considerably.

“There was a significant reduction in the odour” continues Stander.  “Within an hour we could not smell the typical mortuary stench that we have to deal with on a daily basis.  We have tried many chemical products in the past but never came across a product that is as effective as the ozonisers”.

The ozonisers are installed in all the cold rooms at Roodepoort and also in the open spaces in the mortuary section of the facility. There are a variety of units suitable for this application.  “In the larger open spaces you will have to install ozonisers that generate more ozone” says Stander “and OSI will provide and advise you where and how many ozonisers you will need”.

Currently Roodepoort has three units installed in the mortuary and  they are in the process of installing smaller units for the toilets.

“I would most certainly recommend this product to anyone” concludes Stander. “We deal with decomposed bodies and this product takes away all odours”.