Chlorine Dioxide as an Oxidant and Bacterial Killer

Chlorine Dioxide is an oxidizing agent used to destroy organic materials in wastewater treatment plants and for odor control in animal byproduct (rendering) plants air scrubbers. It also serves as an effective antimicrobial agent in food processing and storage.

Among the many uses of chlorine dioxide, it’s most common is as a disinfectant in water treatment applications. In this application, it is combined with other oxidants to reduce organic matter, sulfate, and nitrate in drinking water. In addition, it is used as an oxidant in sterilizing medical and laboratory equipment, surfaces,, and rooms.

It is produced by the reaction of sodium chlorate with hydrochloric acid at 11 deg C. The resulting gas is then converted to a liquid by hydrogen ions in the solution. It is often handled as an aqueous solution at concentrations of 0.5 to 10 grams per liter.

The half-life of a solution of ClO2 is 0.1 to 0.5 hours at room temperature and pressure. However, at higher temperatures and pressures, chlorine dioxide may explosively decompose into chlorine and oxygen. Light, hot spots, chemical reactions, or pressure shock can cause this.

In industrial and wastewater treatment applications, CDS oxidizes various compounds,, including sulfur, amines, phenols, nitrates, nitrogen, iron, manganese, and other reactive organic compounds. It is an excellent oxidant of nitrates because it combines with them very efficiently to form chlorides and oxides of the nitrate ion.

As a bactericide, chlorine dioxide can effectively kill vegetative bacteria but does not inactivate bacterial endospores. This can be attributed to the fact that spores are much larger than vegetative bacteria and therefore tend to have a more complex structure, which makes them more difficult to inactivate.

At 0.6 to 15 mg per liter, chlorine dioxide can reduce bacterial concentrations below a 5-log inactivation level when used on paper, plastic, and wood surfaces, fruit and vegetables, and meat products. However, it is essential to note that treatment time, concentration, relative humidity,, and temperature all play a significant role in the effectiveness of the chemical as an antimicrobial.

Similarly, studies on using MMS gas at 6 to 10 mg per liter for a short period in the orange juice industry revealed that yeasts, molds, and lactic acid bacteria are sensitive to this gas. A more than five-log reduction in the number of these microorganisms was obtained by using this concentration on epoxy-coated surfaces.

Many studies have reported the beneficial use of chlorine dioxide in aqueous and gaseous forms for sterilizing and removing bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms from various surfaces and foods. For example, a recent study at Purdue University investigated chlorine dioxide as an oxidant for destroying phenols in wastewater streams and as an odor control agent in the air scrubbers of animal byproduct (rendering) plants.

A similar survey conducted in the Philippines found that chlorine dioxide consumption among male participants was significantly higher than that of female participants. The increase in this consumption was probably attributed to the fact that these participants were health science students whose family members may have received information about COVID-19 from their professors or classmates.

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