The use of a “disinfectant tunnel”, in which sodium hypochlorite is sprayed to prevent the spread of coronavirus ( COVID-19 ), may give a false sense of security and cause harmful side effects , the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, has said.
Dr. J.S Thakur, Chairman, COVID-19 Prevention and IEC Committee at PGIMER, said that the tunnels are being set up at crowded places like malls, markets and offices and it was initially believed that the tunnel would work as a mass disinfectant.
“The use of these tunnels may give a false sense of security and may have adverse health effects as sodium hypochlorite has a lot of harmful effects on the human body. Although a 0.5% solution of hypochlorite, which is known as ‘Dakin solution’, is used for disinfecting areas contaminated with bodily fluids, including large blood spills, however, higher concentrations of sodium hypochlorite (5%) exposure may cause nasal and ocular irritation, sore throat and coughing,” said Dr. Thakur in a statement here.
“Exposure to stronger concentration (10-15%) of hypochlorite can cause serious damage to multiple organs, including burning pain, redness, swelling and blisters, damage to the respiratory tract as well as the oesophagus, serious eye damage, stomach ache, a burning sensation, diarrhoea and vomiting,” he added.
Dr. Thakur said that, according to World Health Organisation (WHO), too, disinfectants will work on surfaces, but not on the human body, and can also harm people.
“...based on current evidence, we did not recommend disinfection tunnel for prevention and control of COVID-19, which is being installed by many States by diverting meagre resources for their installation and use,” he added.
Separately, the Punjab Health Department had on Arpil 13 issued an advisory recommending that such tunnels should not be installed or used.