Inactivating Influenza Viruses on Surfaces using Hydrogen Peroxide or Triethylene Glycol at low vapor concentrations

Surfaces in congregate settings, such as vehicles used for mass transportation, can become contaminated with infectious microorganisms and facilitate disease transmission. We disinfected surfaces contaminated with H1N1 influenza viruses using hydrogen peroxide (HP) vapor at concentrations below 100 ppm and triethylene glycol (TEG)-saturated air containing 2 ppm of TEG at 25°C.

Influenza viruses in aqueous suspensions were deposited on stainless-steel coupons, allowed to dry at ambient conditions, and then exposed for up to 15 minutes to 10 to 90 ppm of HP vapor or TEG-saturated air. Virus assays were done on the solution used to wash the viruses from these coupons and from coupons treated similarly but without exposure to HP or TEG vapor.

After 2.5 minutes, exposure to 10-ppm HP vapor resulted in 99% inactivation. For air saturated with TEG at 25 to 29°C, the disinfection rate was about 1.3 log10 reductions per hour, about 16 times faster than the measured natural inactivation rate under ambient conditions.

Vapor concentrations of 10 ppm HP or 2 ppm TEG can provide effective surface disinfection. At these low concentrations, the potential for damage to even the avionics of an airplane would be expected to be minimal. At a TEG vapor concentration of 2 ppm, there are essentially no health risks to people.

Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Stephen N. Rudnick, ScD, James J. McDevitt, PhD, Melvin W. First, ScD, John D. Spengler, PhD