With the transition to the ‘new normal’ that the new coronavirus crisis will leave us, the businesses that are gradually opening their doors to the public, want to do so with the maximum guarantees for their clients and workers. Masks, gloves, systems to maintain distances and avoid contact … and, of course, disinfect thoroughly.
To this end, the purchase of domestic ozone machines is proliferating, both for cleaning commercial premises and homes. However, in addition to the fact that ozone can become toxic if it is not handled properly, it is still not known with certainty whether this type of low-power household appliances are effective for or not against the virus that causes COVID-19.
Does ozone disinfect?
The ozone (O3) is a powerful oxidizer that is used for over 100 years ago to disinfect. This disinfection occurs because, when it comes into contact with impurities such as viruses, fungi or bacteria, ozone transforms into oxygen (O2) leaving a free radical loose, with great antioxidant power. This immediately reacts with the closest organic molecule and breaks it down. If the ozone concentration is sufficient and for the necessary time, many of these particles will die or become inactive. For this reason, ozone is used as a disinfectant, but mainly in treatments for drinking water and in the food industry to disinfect utensils or closed chambers and even to disinfect fruits and vegetables in the form of ozonated water.
Is it effective against coronavirus?
However, having a high disinfecting and oxidizing power does not mean that it is capable of killing any dangerous microorganism. In fact, ozone, even in large concentrations and with professional machines, has not been proven to be effective against coronavirus, as recognized by the International Ozone Association , on whose website it can be read that “although ozone is highly effective For the inactivation of many viruses, the IOA is not aware of any research and testing that has been specifically conducted on the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
As far as we know, the peer-reviewed research has not yet been completed and, therefore, no definitive conclusions can be drawn regarding SARS-CoV-2 ozone inactivation, ”meaning that although it is being studied. On the part of the European Chemicals Agency as an environmental disinfectant. There are not enough studies to affirm that ozone is an effective viricide against the coronavirus and, therefore, no organism recommends it for this purpose.
In fact, the Ministry of Health does not include it in its list of authorized virucides in Spain. Where we do find the most classic ones, such as bleach, hydrogen peroxide or alcohol.
And what are domestic ozone machines for?
The domestic ozone machines that have become so fashionable in recent weeks are authorized, but not to be marketed as a disinfectant against coronavirus, but to kill certain bacteria that generate bad odors or even to eliminate mites or fungi …
That is why, before the coronavirus crisis, they were already used to eliminate odors from nightclubs, public toilets and even vehicles, but in no case to sterilize, since it is not guaranteed that they destroy all harmful organisms, and even less in low concentrations.
In fact, many of the websites where these types of products are marketed warn that, although there is evidence that ozone can eliminate similar viruses that cause COVID-19, there are no studies that determine that it is effective against SARS. -CoV-2.
Furthermore, we cannot forget that ozone is a biocide, that is, that it can also be harmful to humans at certain concentrations. For this reason, in the event that ozone-producing articles are purchased, the Ministry of Health recalled a few days ago that they must be used under strict security measures such as:
- Do not use in the presence of people
- Applicators must have adequate protective equipment , known EPIS.
- Being a dangerous chemical substance, it can produce adverse effects. The classification of this substance as dangerous for respiratory tract, skin irritation and eye damage is reported in the ECHA (European Chemicals Agency) classification inventory .
- The disinfected area should be adequately ventilated before use.
- It can react with flammable substances and can produce dangerous chemical reactions on contact with other chemical products.
In other words, although its use is not prohibited , the use of ozone-producing machines is not recommended to end up as the coronavirus . And what is not only not recommended, but is not allowed is the misting of this substance in the so-called ‘disinfecting tunnels’. And is that, as the Ministry recalls, “an inappropriate use of biocides introduces a double risk, possible damage to human health and giving a false sense of security,” they say.
Therefore, even if it costs more work, the most effective thing is still to disinfect objects and surfaces by hand with virucides that have been proven effective, such as bleach and soap. And to avoid contagion, maintain social distance, wash your hands frequently and use masks whenever recommended.