How do I disinfect my house, my car, my workplace, my skin?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions by citizens during the current coronavirus pandemic. However, there is some very good news: COVID-19 is a virus that has little resistance to be removed from surfaces with common commercial products. Its lipidic coating seems to indicate that it prefers fatty surfaces (hence the need for special disinfection of the mobile phone). Thus, the cleaner a surface is, the less time the virus can remain active on it, since it only spreads when it is suspended in the air or when it comes into contact with our mucous membranes (nose, mouth, eyes, especially), which means that by maintaining healthy habits of action, it can be avoided in most cases.

The main preventive measures that we should take can be summarized in these three recommendations, which we will now expand on:

  • Keep the surfaces that we touch as clean and disinfected as possible

  • Do not expose yourself to environments where the virus may be in suspension, and if we have to do so, use the appropriate means of protection (gloves, masks. . . )

  • Extend our hygiene habits.

Surface disinfection

When dealing with surface disinfection we have to consider two effects: the shock effect and the residual effect. The shock effect is what ensures that the virus is deactivated in the shortest possible time (disinfection of a contaminated surface), but it does not ensure that the surface becomes re-infected. The residual effect is that which occurs when the disinfecting agent remains on the surface to delay a new infection as long as possible (maintaining the disinfection of a surface).

A lot of cleaning products have appeared lately. In the last 15 days, the EPA has authorized many disinfectant agents, generally based on Sodium Hypochlorite (bleach), Hypochlorous Acid, Hydrogen Peroxide, alcohol or quaternary ammonium, in formulations that contain some surfactant or detergent to help cleaning surfaces. It is remarkable that most disinfectant substances are corrosive, so the specific applications for which it is designed should be consulted (the same disinfectant cannot be used for a mobile phone or computer keyboard as for floors or metal railings). In this way, the more delicate the surface, the more difficult it will be to apply a disinfectant with residual capacity, especially if we are talking about electronic equipment, since it can cause damage due to the corrosion that these agents produce in the metallic elements. For this ones, the recommended agents will be based on alcohol and mild detergents, which evaporate quickly and should not be immersed or sprayed directly, unless the product is specially designed.

Environmental disinfection

There is a very relevant disinfectant to protect the environment we breathe: OZONE.

Ozone is a very powerful oxidant that has a high capacity to destroy viruses, bacteria and fungi and can easily be generated in the very space to be disinfected, only a power source is needed. The electronic circuit of the generator increases the voltage up to thousands of volts to cause a continuous electric arc (as if it were a constant micro ray) that ionizes the air, producing ozone, which has a very characteristic smell.

The ability of ozone to kill VOC-19 is still under study, but its activity in SARS, another coronavirus of very similar structure, has been proven. In fact, the antiviral activity of ozone has been proven in two of the most common types of virus: viruses with a lipidic coating, where it has been shown that ozone is capable of destroying this outer layer and deactivating the virus, and viruses without a lipidic coating, where the nucleic acids of virus are covered by proteins or capsids that are also directly attacked by ozone, since these viruses have no protection against oxidising agents. COVID-19 is a lipid-coated virus.

The advantage of ozone is that because it is generated continuously, maintaining a constant concentration in the environment (within the concentrations permitted by law), it deactivates very quickly the viruses that remain in the air in the aerosols or micro-droplets generated by the cough or sneeze of an infected person, preventing them from being deposited on surfaces. The use of ozone generators means that the viral concentration is monitored from the zero point where the virus appears in the environment. Ozone has no ability to remain on surfaces, so it has to be generated continuously. It’s like having someone who is endlessly disinfecting the space where we stay.

There are many types of ozone generators: from equipment to disinfect a vehicle (taxi, van, bus, subway) to equipment for geriatric residences, hospitals, mortuaries, hotels and public establishments, cold rooms, homes, etc. From small equipment that exclusively generates ozone and is even powered by 12V from the vehicle’s socket, to more complete equipment that includes a timer, filters, a fan to diffuse the ozone throughout the room, a compressor to drive it from the air conditioning system itself, or portable units with a turbine for specific disinfections in different rooms.

We recommend asking Alphachem’s technicians for advice in selecting the most suitable equipment in each case. It is as dangerous to fall short (by not maintaining a minimum concentration that ensures disinfection), as an overly powerful piece of equipment that generates an excess of ozone, becoming harmful to health. At this point, the reliability of the equipment, offering guarantees on the generation of ozone within the parameters indicated in each case, is very important.

Reinforcement of hygienic habits

This point is of vital importance. If we try not to put ourselves at risk, if we wash our hands, if we learn not to touch our eyes, mouth or nose with dirty hands, and when we do, will be with a disposable tissue, we will manage to minimize the risk of contagion. Hydroalcoholic gels are effective, but they trend to dry out the skin a lot. The best recommendation is soap and water.

If we have to be in risk areas, we have to make use of the appropriate protective means, such as disposable gloves (latex for example), masks (recommended FFP3 classification), and it would also be desirable to wear protective goggles, as well as to wash the clothes that have been exposed.

This terrible crisis that has invaded us will make us aware of how serious environmental and microbial pollution in particular is. It will surely change the way we interact with the environment and those around us, especially when new strains appear or in winter flu crises. The biggest dangers are the ones we don’t see.

Even worse than this viral crisis is the climate change that is happening on our planet, it is advancing little by little, and it is not seen in a direct way either, even some scientists and quite a few leaders still deny it, but it is also in everyone’s hands to be able to reverse it. Climate change modifies ecosystems and can cause new mutations and unknown diseases.

ALPHACHEM, March 2020