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New UNC experiments show very weak chlorine solutions can kill noroviruses

illigrams per liter of hypochlorous acid reduced the viruses by 99.9 percent in five minutes," he said. "Our results show that environmental surfaces can be readily decontaminated of noroviruses with dilute hypochlorous acid, which is the active ingredient of household bleaches like Chlorox."

In practical terms, that means that household bleach can be diluted by a factor of 1,000 and still work, Sobsey said. In all likelihood, it would even disinfect noroviruses on hard surfaces if diluted by a factor of 10,000. At full strength, the bleach contains 50,000 to 60,000 milligrams per liter of chlorine.

"Previously, many people have diluted household bleach to one part in 10, which is still a strongly corrosive solution," he said. "They often are reluctant to use at that strength since it can mar surfaces and make them look bad."

Regularly disinfecting bathrooms, kitchens and other areas prone to harbor viruses and bacteria is important because outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness, which include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, can kill people, especially if they are old or dehydrated, Sobsey said. While most otherwise healthy patients recover after a few days of discomfort even without treatment, noroviruses can continue to sicken others until facilities have been thoroughly sanitized with products proven to be effective.

In the research, Sobsey and Park generated hypochlorous acid from a dilute solution of salt using an electrolytic generator made by Sterilox Technologies. That company, which supported the research, manufactures on-site generators of room-temperature, high-level hypochlorous acid disinfectant for use in biomedical, food production, water treatment and other applications.


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Contact: David Williamson
rdtokids@email.unc.edu
919-962-8596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
19-Dec-2005


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