Ozonizers are on the rise thanks to the epidemic. Neither Health nor the experts are clear that they work
We are experiencing a real fever of buying ozone machines to combat coronavirus, especially as a result of the reopening of stores and restaurants that aspire to offer maximum safety conditions to their customers, as well as car dealers and workshops, hairdressing salons, aesthetic centers, industrial warehouses and warehouses.
Last April 27, in addition, the Ministry of Health included ozone machines among its list of biocidal products for the disinfection of COVID-19 eventually allowed to be marketed. But are they effective?
What do the authorities say?
- Ministry of Health: ozone is not among the products on the official list of virucides authorized and registered by the Ministry of Health. The marketing of ozonizers is allowed pending the completion of the evaluation process in the European Union, provided that the corresponding security measures are respected. That is, its efficacy is unknown, but its sale is allowed if standards are followed to avoid problems associated with toxicity.
- EPA: The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also does not list ozone or derived products as a valid option to kill coronavirus on surfaces and objects as a valid action on the list of effective disinfectants against SARS. -CoV-2.
- CDC and WHO: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) also do not appear as a recommendation among disinfection instructions either.
- FDA: For the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, ozone is effective as an air germicide in a concentration that is much higher than what is safely tolerated by humans and animals, and there is no evidence that it works. with the coronavirus.
- SESA: the Spanish Society for Environmental Health advises against the use of chlorine dioxide and ozone in the disinfection of air and surfaces against coronovirus.
As of today, therefore, there is no scientific literature that suggests activity by ozone against coronaviruses, although there is evidence of its activity against different fungi, bacteria, viruses: we are dealing with an oxidant that when in contact with a The virus breaks the membrane that covers it by oxidation to later eliminate it.
And it is very effective: ozone is 300 times faster than chlorine and 590 times more powerful. Not surprisingly, in 1856, just 16 years after its discovery, it was first used for health care to disinfect operating rooms and sterilize surgical supplies.
But the absence of specific scientific literature against SARS-CoV-2 is evident, so it cannot be extrapolated.
However, the Ministry of Health has allowed its commercialization until its evaluation by the European Union concludes: ozone is currently under review by the European Chemicals Agency to determine the necessary doses to guarantee its effectiveness as a viricide. and the health effects that these concentrations can trigger.
Ozone is toxic
In addition to the fact that there is no scientific evidence that ozone is useful against coronavirus, it can be toxic. Although it is essential that there is ozone in our atmosphere to protect us from ultraviolet radiation, when it is at ground level (tropospheric ozone) it is a dangerous and highly polluting gas: if we inhale it in high concentrations, it is toxic to the lungs. It can also cause adverse effects such as skin irritation and eye damage. And, since eventually the virucidal activity of ozone only takes place at certain concentrations (65-75 micrograms / L), we would be unnecessarily exposed to another risk.
Despite the publicity of ozone machines, then, the rooms sprayed with this gas do not have a clean, but toxic atmosphere.
In addition, at a more domestic level, they can offer a false sense of security for some users, because many of the domestic ozonizers emit very little ozone: they serve to "smell clean", but they do not disinfect.
Currently there is no biocidal product in Spain that is authorized by the Ministry of Health for use by nebulization (administration by vaporization through the respiratory route) on people. Only viricidal products that have demonstrated efficacy against the virus are authorized and registered in Spain, in compliance with the UNE-EN 14476 standard (it evaluates the viricidal capacity of antiseptics and chemical disinfectants) and that are found in the List of Viricides for environmental use ( TP2), use in the food industry (TP4) and its use in human hygiene (TP1).
Industrial ozone generators, in addition, have to be operated by professionals in extreme safety conditions. For this reason, if you end up using ozone machines, it is recommended at least that the disinfected place is adequately ventilated before use and that it is not applied in the presence of people.
Therefore, since we do not even know if we will go overboard or will be short using a potentially very toxic gas (the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health established in 2019 professional limit values of enter 0.05 ppm and 0, 2 ppm depending on the job), cleaning surfaces with bleach seems to be a more recommended option, since it also has virucidal activity and we reduce the risk of lung inhalation: we know that cleaning with a 0.1% sodium hypochlorite solution (bleach or chlorine) % inactivates the virus in less than 1 minute.
Another fashion (for now)
In conclusion, the current ozone machines, therefore, could be considered as a fashion without scientific support (for the moment), in addition to representing an unnecessary risk.
Probably, its proliferation has run like wildfire because it is not the first time that ozone is presented as a healthy substance, despite the fact that it is a very powerful oxidant that comes, among other sources, from the exhaust pipes of cars and of industrial emissions.
Its only proven therapeutic effect is focused on cases of herniated disc or severe back pain (ozone infiltrations mitigate this pain, probably because strong oxidation innervates that area), but this has not been an impediment to ozone therapy. .
This type of alternative medicine (without scientific evidence) proposes, among other things, treatment of various diseases, including cancer, HIV or multiple sclerosis.
With the epidemic of COVID-19, then, we are living a deja vu: same dog, different collar.