Did you ever stick your snoot behind the television set and inhale? Did you wonder about that funky smell? Go ahead, try it. Watch out for all those wires, though. Don’t electrocute yourself. Just give it a good sniff.

That smell is a gas called ozone. Powerful stuff, isn’t it? The high voltage transformers in the tangle of electronic gadgetry inside the TV produce it.

If I remember my university chemistry correctly, ozone molecules are three oxygen atoms welded together. They are unstable. They will take advantage of the slightest opportunity to break apart. In the process, they zap neighbouring atoms and molecules with those spare oxygen ions. The spare ions are negative. This means they’re ions with an attitude.

During the eighties, people liked the idea of having negative ions around. They reminded people of waterfalls and thunder storms. They made the air smell fresher. They assaulted particles of cigarette smoke and sneaker odours. They rendered the air somewhat breathable.

People liked having ions with attitude around. They spent their life savings on devices called negative ion generators. These are high voltage transformers they hung on their ceilings. The generators happily snapped our air pollution worries away.

A friend of mine, Tom Nikiforuk, liked the idea of negative ions so much, he bought a furnace with a negative ion generator already installed. He called it his hypoallergenic furnace. It blew negative ions throughout his house. They snapped particles of dust and pollen into oblivion before they had a chance to clog his respiratory system and make him sneeze.

Now his whole house smells like the back of a television set.

Anyone who pays attention to our environment knows there is a layer of ozone 90km up in our atmosphere. They also know that the ozone layer absorbs the short wavelength solar radiation before it lands on us causing skin cancers or melanomas.

Recent studies show there are two holes in the ozone layer the size of New Brunswick or Kansas or Richmond or something. They were found over the North and South poles. As our safety filter decomposes, the threat to terrestrial life increases. Experts attribute this ozone depletion to the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, gas, and old dinosaur bones. Refrigerants such as freon gas and aerosol can propellants share the blame.

This is where Nikiforuk’s furnace comes in. To save the earth, we need to raid his house and wrench it from its ducts. Then we need to strap it to a freshly commandeered Goodyear blimp specially modified to reach the mandatory 90km altitude over Antarctica. Then, we just set the thermostat and let it circle around the continent.

We can power it with solar cells and let it blast those little negative ions out the blowhole.

Simple isn’t it. We save the planet by making it smell like the back of a television set.

Mike Broderick is an Employment Specialist for the Neil Squire Society in Burnaby where he finds employment for people with physical disabilities. Part of this work means affiliation with the Vancouver Board of Trade where he is a member of the Ambassador Club, the Burnaby Board of Trade where he is a member of the Labour Task Force, the Tri Cities Chamber of Commerce where he is an active member of the 10X10 initiative, and the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce. He does some work as a field Archaeologist and is a  fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to alive magazine in Port Coquitlam. You can reach him at home at   or at

If you’re looking for a career change, he is the Spin Doctor and can give you a resume makeover at competitive rates

When he is not doing all this he lives in Port Coquitlam with his partner Cecelia.


5 Responses to “SAVING THE WORLD”

  1. Rose A. Valenta Says:

    I’m so glad you cleared that up, Mike. I never could figure out what that smell was.

  2. energywriter Says:

    Good job, Mike. Funny and informative. I’ll help you pull out the furnace and hook it to helium balloons. Hey, somethings smell worse than the back of television sets – like driving behind a semi-truck or a city bus.

  3. Mike Broderick Says:

    Thanks Sharon and Rose,

    Ballard Power is in my neck of the woods. They are the people who are perfecting (ooo Hendrick Sedine scored) the hydrogen fuel cell where the only byproduct (except the cost of getting the hydrogen in the first place) is water. There was a bus roaming around the Lower Mainland of BC with such a device. The driver would step on the accelerator and a morning fog would result.


  4. JODY Says:

    I’m confused (nothing new there). Is the smell behind my TV a good thing or a bad thing? Keep in my mind I have two kids who are forbidden to eat in the livingroom. I fear my sudden approaching entrance into said living room is the reason for the funky smell behind the TV.

  5. mikebroderick Says:

    It took a while, but I found an answer at
    The answer is yes. Ozone is poisonous, but it ussually dissipates as it moves away from the TV. If the TV is on, it’s probably not a good idea to do too much snuffling around the back of it. Wait until Southpark is over first

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