Why in news?
In the wake of several advisories advocating against the use of sanitisation tunnels as part of efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Pune-based CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory (CSIR-NCL) and the Mumbai-based Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT) issued a joint statement on 23rd April 2020 asserting that the advisories “did not have any scientific basis”.
Why did the Ministry recommend against it?
- The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) had in a recent advisory cautioned against the spraying of disinfectant on people as part of measures to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic and had explicitly said that “disinfectants are recommended for the cleaning and disinfection only of frequently touched areas or surfaces by those suspected or confirmed to have been infected” by the virus.
- The ministry had made clear that the spraying [of disinfectant] on individuals or groups was “not recommended under any circumstances” and that even if a person was potentially exposed to the novel coronavirus, spraying the external part of the body did not guarantee killing the virus that had entered one’s body.
- The ministry also said there is no scientific evidence to suggest that they are effective even in disinfecting the outer clothing in an effective manner.
- Spraying of chlorine on individuals can lead to irritation of eyes and skin.
- Inhalation of sodium hypochlorite can lead to irritation of mucous membranes to the nose, throat, respiratory tract and may also cause bronchospasm
Why did the institutes tell it is not harmful?
- Efficacy of sodium hypochlorite, also known as hypo or bleach, ranging from 0.02% to 0.05% weight concentration was studied on personnel walking through mist tunnel unit besides antibacterial activity against standard microorganisms before and after exposure in the walk-through.
- Results indicated that sodium hypochlorite used in this weight concentration range did not show any adverse effects on the skin.
- Recommended standard was using 0.02% to 0.05 wt. % sodium hypochlorite solution (200 to 500 ppm) for external body surface sanitisation of personnel walking through the mist tunnel by following standard safety precautions.
- The scientific data of CSIR-NCL and ICT clearly show that there is a beneficial killing effect of bacteria and microbes at 0.02-0.05 wt.% hypo.
- CSIR-NCL further recommended the use of ‘face shields’ or ‘safety goggles’ during the walk-through which could then be recycled after further disinfection.