Health warns of the possible dangers of ozone and ultraviolet light when disinfecting Covid’s car

A. Noguerol

Madrid

Updated:

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The return to normality is causing numerous vehicles that have been idle for three months to return to the streets and highways. Fear of getting infected with Covid-19 has brought some effective methods of fighting coronavirus, co or the use of ozone and ultraviolet light into fashion, but to do it correctly and with total security you must follow strict security rules, so it is best to leave this task in the hands of professionals.

Thus, the Ministry of Health has published an alert in which it makes a series of recommendations about the use of products that use ultraviolet-C radiation to disinfect the coronavirus in the air or on surfaces, in which it warns that they can cause eye damage, skin damage or respiratory tract irritation. Likewise, the department headed by Salvador Illa has reported that the scientific evidence available to date suggests that, although they may reduce the virus population on a surface, it is “unknown” whether this reduction is sufficient to achieve optimal disinfection.

The Ministry has warned that UV-C radiation can not be applied in the presence of people, or in homes, and recalls that the “most effective” measure to prevent infections are hand washing, face masks, social distance , cleaning with detergents and disinfectants and the application of biocides authorized by Health.

Sanitizing or disinfecting cars has become very important in these times. But not all sanitizations are created equal. Three methods are currently being used to sanitize vehicles: surface cleaning with a biocide, ozone treatment, and biocide fogging. The first two are the most widely used in the industry, but ozone treatments have some dark spots that should be clarified. Fumigation with biocides has been the last to arrive and companies like Carglass have begun to use it worldwide.

Manual cleaning of surfaces with a biocide is effective in disinfecting normal contact points (in Lexus, for example, they clean 45 points inside and outside the vehicle, in addition to treating the car with ozone). It is a simple and inexpensive method, but it does not ensure a complete disinfection of the interior of a car, because there are many areas that are not disinfected.

Ozone use is not regulated

Ozone treatments do reach every corner of the interior. But ozone is not tested or regulated for use in the air and on surfaces. In fact, the official list of viricides does not appear accredited and recognized by the Ministry of Health, which recommends not to use biocides that have not been expressly accredited and registered. Ozone is under evaluation in the European Union, allowing its commercialization pending the completion of this procedure.

The big problem with ozone is that it is very toxic. In very low concentrations it already causes irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, cough, asthma attacks and headaches. And at higher concentrations it can cause severe lung damage, immune system disturbances, and even death. The people who apply it must be very protected, after its applicationdeep ventilation is not required and inside a car it can be absorbed by upholstery fabrics or deposited on other contact surfaces, and the period of time it disappears is very difficult to determine.

According to Health, it has not been proven how much product and for how long it must be applied, nor what approval do the machines have to have that generate it. And it has not been determined whether it is really effective as a biocide for air and surfaces, in non-toxic concentrations.

Ganvam has created a labor protection and prevention protocol for workers in the automotive sales and after-sales sector, which addresses the process of sanitizing a vehicle. As clarified by the Ministry of Health, “although ozone has been notified and defended, and they understand that it has activity in this regard, no information yet under biocide legislation. Those responsible for putting it on the market do so at their own risk, with the only requirement to notify it as the law marks.

Authorized biocides

The third way is fumigation of an authorized biocidal product and recommended by the authorities for a period of time inside a car. This method is not toxic to people and seems to combine the advantages of the previous two: its effectiveness against viruses, bacteria and fungi has been proven, and reaches every corner of the vehicle. The National Association of Environmental Health Companies (ANECPLA) assures that ozone is «an unnecessary risk» and recommends using other treatments, of proven efficacy and with the support of the official competent organisms.

Biocides are fully regulated and the regulations clearly specify what uses they are allowed for. Those with hydrogen peroxide and peracetic acid, for example, are approved for direct application for human hygiene, indirect application to people and animals, and food contact surfaces; so they are completely safe for the health of the workers who handle them and for the client. In fact, no rinsing is necessary after fumigation.

The application protocol itself is also important, since the type at the time of misting, going through how the air conditioning system has to be configured in the different phases of sanitization so that it helps the diffusion of the product and so that the biocide also disinfects it. At Carglass, for example, they use a viricide with hydrogen peroxide and peracetic acid, and they have developed a scientific application protocol, with their training manual for workshop technicians, which they employ equally around the world. This protocol details the precise steps to follow, tools to use and times of each disinfection stage. It has been studied from which is the best position to fog the interior of the vehicle, to the positions in which the car’s air conditioning system must be in each phase of disinfection, including fogging times and the correct use of the nebulizing machine.

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