Will it be safe to use the Disinfection Chamber to the general public?
As we are aware at this pandemic situation as a Nation many individuals, and institutes develop various systems to fight against COVID19 spread. One of the famous systems is being considered as the Disinfection Chamber/ Disinfection Booth/Disinfection Tunnel.
The key issue of this design is effeteness in serving the purpose. There is No scientific evidence for the efficiency of disinfection in human bodies using spraying disinfection reagents in an enclosed chamber. The general practice for the disinfecting surfaces is to dip or fully cover the surface by regents for 20-30 seconds. This complete coverage of the skin surface is highly questionable in this design. Alcohol( IPA/ Ethanol) wipes also works on the same mechanism which covers the entire surface. However with the suggested design the actual contact time of the microdroplets and coverage of the entire surface is not clearly studied and proven to be at the standard levels. Hands and facial areas are identified as critical to spread this virus. Having gone Hence, going through this chamber and ignoring the complete disinfection of hands (soap-washing/hand-sanitizer) will provide a false sense of security. (1)
We need to ensure that we do not have any intention to underestimate the ideas and efforts of young inventors. This is purely a technical approach in the grounds of engineering, microbiological and health aspects of the above design.
This type of system sprays Alcohol( IPA/ Ethanol) , Sodium Hypo Chloride ( NaOCl/ HOCl) . Ozonated Water, Hand wash Liquid, during the spraying mist is created inside the booth for 10-60 sec of times. There is no evidence to support that spraying of surfaces or large-scale misting of areas, indoor or outdoor with disinfecting agents, kills the virus. Spraying or misting may even cause harm as, it can cause pathogens to be dispersed further, cause skin irritation or inhalation of chemicals and subsequent development of respiratory side effects and may lead to environmental pollution.
If we consider the Alcohol/ IPA is being used as the spraying liquid, inhaling large amounts of isopropyl alcohol can cause nausea, vomiting, irritation of the nose and mucous membranes, throat irritations, and even difficulty with breathing as coughing can occur making it difficult to catch breath. IPA poisoning occurs when the liver is no longer able to manage the concentration of IPA in the body. Average Human body can handle only a small amounts of isopropyl alcohol at a time. In fact, kidneys removes approximately 20 to 50 percent of IPA from the body. The rest is broken down into acetone by enzymes known as alcohol dehydrogenases. This acetone is filtered out of our body through the lungs or kidneys. Isopropyl alcohol is highly flammable, and can easily ignite. Vapors may form explosive mixtures with air. Isopropyl alcohol should be kept away from heat, sparks, flames and other sources of ignition. So, people need to be careful in using IPA. Everyone thinks IPA is a good sanitizer, but people hardly know about the repercussions of irresponsible usage. Ozone has the same repercussions if you use irresponsibly.
If Sodium Hypochlorite is being used in this chamber, Hypochlorite's potential to cause toxicity is related to its oxidizing capacity and the pH of the solution. Toxicity arises from its corrosive activity upon contact with mucous membranes and skin. Features following ingestion: While small accidental ingestions are very unlikely to cause clinically significant toxicity, large ingestions may cause corrosive gastrointestinal injury and systemic effects, including metabolic acidosis, hypernatremia, and hyperchloremia. Features following skin exposure: Prolonged or extensive exposure may cause skin irritation and damage to the skin or dermal hypersensitivity. Such exposures can result in either immediate or delayed-type skin reactions. High concentration solutions have caused severe chemical skin burns. Features following inhalation: Although there are only limited data, inhalation of hypochlorite alone is likely to lead to no more than mild irritation of the upper airways. If NaOCl contact with the eyes will sting and burn. The natural moisture in eyes combines with liquid bleach to form an acid.
Some argue these disinfection chambers contain chemicals in a concentration which is nontoxic to humans. However these disinfecting chemicals when being used in human friendly concentration is not at all effective for disinfection purposes, in other words it will not destroy harmful bacteria and viruses.
With this there is another argument “if not complete disinfection at least partial disinfection is worth”. But this argument comes from people who has no idea about how microorganism’s metabolism works. Whenever a microorganism exposed to non-lethal dosage of microbicidal agents, let it be disinfections, antibiotics etc, it will develop resistant against these agents, making it hard to kill even with the lethal dosage. Also as we all know this SARS-COV2 virus mutate in rapid rate, exposing it to a non-lethal dosage of disinfections will enhance it’s mutation rates, leading to more new strains of the virus.
Also again there is ozone disinfection chambers coming forward, having an ozone concentration within the OSHAS guide lines, making it human friendly. This has two adverse effects one being non-lethal dosage leading to new mutations and resistant strains. The other one being weakening the respiratory system of human beings, as ozone in a lower concentration also can slightly damage the epithelial cells of the respiratory system of human beings. For fighting COVID 19, the most essential part for a human being is a strong respiratory system.
Even on Operational guidelines on preparedness and response for covid-19 outbreak for work settings, Interim guidance published on April 17th 2020 By Directorate of Environmental Health, Occupational Health and Food Safety Clearly state on page no 8 as “Disinfection Chambers are not recommended.” Even though this system is not recommended we can see that many public places, Factories, Supermarket chains and public Transport are installing this system to disinfect the person.
So by Considering the ineffectiveness of this system and side effects created by the chemicals used in this, Government should take necessary action to ban this system at General Public.