A Long Island startup is marketing a walk-through mist station designed to combat COVID-19 at offices, schools and stadiums.
People entering the mist stations face a wall-mounted scanner that takes their temperature, use a touchless hand sanitizer dispenser and then walk below misters that blanket them with a cloud of droplets.
John Berlingieri, president of the 10-person Smithtown company dubbed the National Safety Health & Compliance Commission, said the hypochlorous acid solution "kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses." Similar formulations are used in some eye care products and in supermarket produce misters, where they inhibit mold, he said.
Hypochlorous acid is on an Environmental Protection Agency list of products that can be used against COVID-19.
It's also included in a May 2020 "interim guidance" directive from the World Health Organization on disinfecting surfaces with COVID-19.
The 60 parts per million solution of hypochlorous acid used in the Sanitizing Station won't irritate eyes, skin or the respiratory tract, Berlingieri said.
The misters "mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on clothing and other items" that pass through the Sanitizing Station, he said.
David MacIntosh, chief science officer at Environmental Health & Engineering Inc., a Newton, Massachusetts, consultancy, said virus-killing effectiveness would depend on variables like the setting, concentration of the solution and length of time the liquid would be in contact with the virus.
Though multiple layers of protection are needed to combat COVID-19, he said, the system does not appear to address transmission through the nose and mouth of an infected person, believed to be the primary pathway of transmission.
Similar misting systems have been used in other countries, Berlingieri said.
In Goyang, South Korea, workers at a drive-through COVID-19 testing center were sprayed with hypochlorous acid solution after their shifts, according to news reports. In an Israeli pilot program, professional soccer players were sprayed as they took the field, Reuters reported.
Stony Brook University chemistry professor Francis Johnson said hypochlorous acid, a "powerful oxidizing and chlorinating agent," is the basis of bleach commonly sold in supermarkets.
The WHO cited studies that found the COVID-19 virus "remained viable" up to one day on cloth and wood, two days on glass, four days on stainless steel and plastic and up to seven days on the outer layer of a medical mask.
Berlingieri said the National Safety Health & Compliance Commission, formed in March, is selling the Sanitizing Stations for $14,999 each or leasing them for $500 per month.
He said the company's name was chosen to reflect its three business lines: infectious disease decontamination and cleaning; sale of the Sanitizing Station; and helping companies comply with state and federal safety and health regulations.
Berlingieri said the Sanitizing Station has drawn interest from school districts on Long Island and in Florida and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point.