Humans generate their own oxidation field in indoor spaces

The discovery of an oxidative field around humans shows for the first time that human bodies also create OH radicals.

In the study, researchers asked three groups of four adults to sit in a climate-controlled stainless-steel chamber. Ozone was added to the chamber air inflow in a quantity that was not harmful to humans but representative of higher indoor levels. The team determined the OH values before and during the volunteers’ stay, both with and without ozone.

The results showed that the OH radicals were present, abundant, and forming around human beings.

According to the study, oxidation fields are generated as ozone reacts to the oils and fats on our skin – particularly the unsaturated triterpene squalene compound that makes up about 10 percent of the lipids that protect the skin and keep it supple.

“The discovery that we humans are not only a source of reactive chemicals, but we are also able to transform these chemicals ourselves was very surprising to us,” says Nora Zannoni, first author of the study and chemist from the Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate in Italy.

The levels that scientists found were even comparable to outside daytime OH concentrations levels.

“The strength and shape of the oxidation field are determined by how much ozone is present, where it infiltrates, and how the ventilation of the indoor space is configured,” says Zannoni.

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