ionization of air for disinfection

Is air ionization effective for disinfection and infection prevention?

A recent study by Boeing on the effectiveness of disinfection using ionization in aircraft and in the laboratory shows low disinfection effectiveness. The study concludes that it is a technology with a low level of research and conclusive results, so it is advisable to resort to traditional disinfection methods or others with more research and proven effectiveness such as UV-C disinfection.

The studies have been carried out under the usual conditions of a Boeing 787 aircraft and under laboratory conditions, carried out by Boeing, the University of Arizona laboratory and the Huntsville laboratory. Although some external studies have shown some germicidal efficacy, the low level of research with current technology suggests not considering ionization as a disinfection option.

The 2020 Cochrane review called “Interventions to reduce contaminated aerosols produced during dental procedures for the prevention of infectious diseases”, concludes that ionization is effective in reducing aerosols in the environment, but the organisms present in it would remain viable and therefore have the ability to produce infections. Therefore, it would be necessary to resort to another additional disinfection procedure to prevent infections.

Although there is some research showing some efficacy, most conclude that it is insufficient or limited to only some bacteria and fungi, but there is no conclusive research on its effect, for example on SARS CoV-2. The lack of research demonstrating the effectiveness of ionization for disinfection, coupled with the safety warnings this technology carries, suggests opting for other more researched and effective disinfection options such as UV-C radiation.

Is the ionization of air safe?

Keep in mind that the ionization of the air produces Ozone, an element that is harmful to human health. Although the ionizers or air purifiers with ionization available on the market release it in low amounts, in such a way that they do not exceed the maximum limit recommended by the World Health Organization, it is not advisable to use technologies that release Ozone, no matter how low. be the amount generated.

Therefore, When using an air ionizer, its Ozone emission is usually limited to 0.1 ppm (parts per million) and it is recommended to properly ventilate the room in which the ionizer is located, in order to release that ozone harmful to health. This does not happen for example with the Air disinfection using Type C Ultraviolet Light, whose use is totally safe with people in space, as it does not release Ozone or other chemical substances.

What alternatives are there to disinfection of the air by ionization?

The alternatives to ionization are those that are more traditional or that already have a significant volume of research, such as chemical and thermal disinfection or disinfection using Type C Ultraviolet Light.. These solutions are effective for surfaces, but in the case of air disinfection, UV-C radiation is one of the most effective.

Ultraviolet radiation has been shown to act as a germicide by directly attacking the genetic material (DNA and RNA) of microorganisms, causing serious damage that prevents them from carrying out their vital functions and, therefore, causing infections.

DNA strands broken by the effect of ultraviolet radiation for disinfection

For example, in the case of Stonex air disinfection solutions, they have been shown to be more than 99,93% effective in reducing microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, yeasts and spores. In addition, its use is totally safe with people in space since it does not release ozone or chemical substances, and it does not emit external radiation.

Air disinfection using ultraviolet light is an effective and totally safe option, which It also allows its use with people in space without any risk, unlike ionization, which requires people to leave the space and provide good rear ventilation.

Sources:

Boeing (2021). Use of Bipolar Ionization for Disinfection within Airplanes

https://www.boeing.com/confident-travel/downloads/Boeing-Use-of-Bipolar-Ionization-for-Disinfection-within-Airplanes.pdf

Cochrane (2020). Interventions to reduce contaminated aerosols produced during dental procedures for preventing infectious diseases

https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD013686.pub2/full

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