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Contagious diseases can spread through drinking water. Proper disinfection helps combat epidemics and prevent infections. The disinfection principles used for drinking water are also valid for drinking water in medical practices and hospitals (medically used drinking water).

Medically used drinking water finds use in the

following areas:

  1. Dialysis systems
  2. Inhalation and respiratory devices
  3. Air-conditioning installations (cooling towers)
  4. Air-moistening
  5. Pharmacies
  6. Dental applications such as mouth rinsing, mouth douche and turbine sprays

Most hospitals source water from the Metro water supply, while others own bore wells. In both the cases, hospitals develop their own specific water treatment systems. The treated water is used for patients with weakened resistance and for diagnostic & therapeutic measures. For the operation of technical medical equipment, additional quality criteria play an important part.

Very often, contamination originates not from the primary source of water supply, but from the secondary process within the hospital. In fact, water samples taken from Dental units have most contamination. This secondary contamination is a result of bad maintenance of ion exchangers, RO systems, below par sanitation of pipes and tanks. In dental systems, germs get transferred from the patient’s mouth to the tube systems via suction valves. The bacteria proliferate due to the frequent stagnation of water in the narrow tubes as well as due to the plastic materials involved. The slimy coating formed is often resistant to disinfectants.

Particularly, where invasive dental treatment is concerned, the risk of infection is increased. Infections or infectious diseases that have relatively long incubation periods (e.g. Hepatitis B or C) are generally missed in the hospitals but surface at a later stage.

Ozone: A Powerful Performer

Ozone, an allotropic form of oxygen, possesses unique properties which are being defined and applied to biological systems as well as to clinical practice. As a molecule containing a large excess of energy, ozone, through incompletely understood mechanisms, manifests bactericidal, veridical and fungicidal actions which may make it a treatment of choice in certain conditions and an adjunctive treatment in others.

Ozone (O3) is a low molecular weight composed of three oxygen atoms arranged in a triangular arrangement. Its high chemical reactivity results from its unstable electron configuration that seeks electrons from other molecules. During its reaction with other molecules ozone is destroyed and the organic material is oxidized. Compared with other disinfectants, the by-products of ozone reactions are ecologically benign. Since ozone rapidly converts back into molecular oxygen – with a half-life of about 20 minutes – there’s no need to worry about disinfection residuals in the end product.

The action of ozone includes all classical infectious pathogens (obligatory pathogens) as well as hospital specific, problematic pathogens whose presence can be demonstrated in medically used waters.

In addition to the disinfectant properties of ozone, ozonised water can be therapeutically effective i.e., acting as a disinfectant, oxygen-releasing (circulatory improvement) immuno stimulation and granulation acceleration agent in the tissue. Toxicological safety due to ozone’s rapid degeneration is also a prime consideration. With the use of ozone, chemical additives as sterilizing agents are not required due to ozone’s wider range of action.

Quality of water

With ozonated drinking water, the hospital can ensure that one source of cross contamination is removed. Some effects of ozonation of water would be virus reduction, Giardia cysts reduction and nil presence of Coliforms, Hepatitis A & C, Fecal Streptococcus, Salmonella & Shigella and Vibrio Cholera.

Sterilizing procedures

  • Ozone systems can be used for sterilizing the hospital in several methods.
  • Use of ozonated water for sterilizing of theatres and wards: Helps remove all bacteria and virus including the dreaded MRSA (Multiple Resistant Staphylococcus aureus).
  • Use in laundry: Ozonated water can be used to sterilize bed-linen and other linen after the wash. Ozone use in laundry is fast spreading in India.
  • Ozonated water for surgical scrub wash: This removes the suspicion of improper sterilisation and expensive heat sterilization of the water.
  • Ozonated water for washing of wounds.
  • Ozonated water is used in Dentistry for mouth wash.
  • Ozone in the Hydrotherapy pool to avoid Legionella.
  • Use of ozone in cooling tower water treatment in large hospitals.

Use of ozone in air treatment

As we all know, air is another important source of cross contamination. Therefore, if we are able to offer equipment that can ensure the sterility of the air, then cross contamination is reduced significantly.

Other applications

  • Room deodorizer: All types of bad odours, such as from kitchen wastes are removed by the unit.
  • Room sterilizer: While ozonated water can be used to sterilize the floors and lower walls of the surgical theatre, the air-sterilizer can be used for sterilizing the air in the theatre.
  • In the mortuary to remove smell of formalin.
  • In garbage dumps to remove odour.
  • To clean air ducts periodically.
  • In effluent & sewage treatment: To remove odour and to disinfect hospital waste (liquid) before disposal or for reuse with reduction in COD, BOD and coliforms.
V. Baratharaj
CMD, Ozone Technologies & Systems India Pvt. Ltd

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