Chlorine Dioxide Chemistry


Chlorine-dioxide300-wChlorine dioxide (ClO2) is a yellow/green gas in its natural state, although it is extremely soluble in water, 10 times more soluble than chlorine gas. For this reason, almost all of the use applications of chlorine dioxide prior to 2001 were aqueous, that is, where the gas was dissolved in water and used as a liquid. While it is composed of one atom of chlorine and two atoms of oxygen, its chemistry is very different from that of chlorination based compounds, such as bleach. ClO2 is a pure oxidizer, that is, it does not produce toxic chlorinated byproducts as chlorine does. As such, it is considered a "green" chemistry. Its ultimate breakdown product is chloride, a component of simple salt, and universally recognized as non-toxic. For these reasons, ClO2 is on the FDA food additives list and is used as a sanitizing rinse in all types of foods, and as a sanitizer and disinfectant on food contact surfaces and non porous surfaces found in food plants. It is also one of the main compounds used to sanitize drinking water around the world. It has been only in the last ten years or so, that "gas phase" has been studied and utilized in commercial applications.

Early on, chlorine dioxide had a reputation as a dangerous compound, since extremely high concentrations (>10-12%) can be explosive in air. These levels equate in parts per million (PPM) to be 100,000 to 120,000 which is several orders of magnitude greater than what is normally used in day to day operations, that being from 5 PPM up to 200PPM. In fact, new use applications indicate a level as low as 0.03 PPM is effective against many viruses.


It is important to understand that chlorine dioxide is a very special molecule, which uses a selective oxidation to interact with the biochemistry of microorganisms. The chlorine dioxide molecule is an oxidizing free radical that reacts with several amino acids that make up proteins. ClO2 bends and breaks these proteins and causes them to be non-functional. The most important proteins that are denatured are enzymatic proteins that catalyze biochemical reactions within the bacteria, virus or fungi. This causes the microbe to shut down and die very rapidly. The literature is full of studies from leading Universities and institutions indicating very rapid and significant kill rates using chlorine dioxide. This is the reason chlorine dioxide was chosen as the compound of choice to kill the Anthrax Spores that were released into government buildings in 2001. This selective oxidation not only attacks enzymatic proteins to kill microbes, but reacts with other proteins as well including those that make up outer cellular components such as antigens. The scientific literature actually describes in detail how ClO2 attacks and destroys allergens, thereby literally clearing the air. People who suffer from workplace allergies can greatly benefit from this technology.

While it has been demonstrated both in practice and in studies that ClO2 has the ability to neutralize mold and pollen allergens, the jury is still out concerning its ability to neutralize toxins associated with fungal metabolism, known as metabolites or mycotoxins. There are approximately 25 mycotoxins that have been widely studied, but estimates of up to 300 to 400 difference mycotoxins have been made. There are several mycotoxins that have been neutralized with chlorine dioxide, but the conditions and concentrations are questionable. A review of the chemical structure of 25 mycotoxins suggests that many are oxidizable and therefore could be potentially neutralized under the right conditions with ClO2. To actually prove this hypothesis would be a very long and costly exercise, and every mycotoxin would not likely be neutralized. For this reason, DeepReach Oxidation identifies materials that have evidence of metabolizing mold growth and removes them as per EPA "Guidelines".