American Airlines was given emergency approval earlier this week to use a new disinfectant that promises to kill coronavirus on surfaces for up to a week. But be aware the cleaner may actually do little to prevent the spread of virus and be harmful to passengers and flight attendants.
New Coronavirus Disinfectant On American Airlines May Do More Harm Than Good
The new product is called SurfaceWise2 and is produced by a company called Allied BioScience in Dallas. According to the company, the cleaner “binds to surfaces and kills viruses that land on it, including COVID-19.”
Fast-tracked through the regulatory approval process, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler called it a “game-changing” product. But Jennifer Sass of the Natural Resources Defense Council told the Washington Post:
“It would be great if this was a miracle solution, but it’s not. There’s plenty of risk here and too much we don’t know about how this chemical could actually harm people.”
Sass explained that the product’s Material Safety Data Sheet included a number of warnings, including against prolonged skin and eye contact. Both contacts are not only possible, but probable in an aircraft cabin. This is especially true for flight attendants. Symptoms of exposure include irritation, which may increase the risk of infection to viruses by inflaming airways. Furthermore, the product kills microbes…both the good ones and the bad ones; that is why the product is toxic to aquatic organisms. Lastly, there is no research yet about the product’s long-term effects. The product’s safety sheet does not include a breakdown of active ingredients, instead calling its formula a trade secret.
A spokesperson for SurfaceWise2 dismisses such concerns:
“The product is electrostatically sprayed with an ultrafine mist, allowing it [to] dry within minutes, creating a polymer coating. The polymer coating is nontoxic, nonirritating and non-sensitizing, and has been rigorously tested for safety — both in partnership with AA and EPA.”
The problem, however, is that our understanding of COVID-19 suggests that the virus is not spread over surfaces, but via droplets that travel through the air. Such surface cleansers may do more harm than good.
I’m not a scientist. But doesn’t the idea of breathing in disinfectants seem to further compromise the battle against the virus by potentially leading to the sort of irritation or inflammation that might make COVID-19 more likely to spread via the air? American Airlines calls its new disinfectant groundbreaking. I’m not convinced.
What is your thoughts on the new fast-tracked cleaning “miracle” from American Airlines?