[Pharmwaste] "electrolyzed water" instead of toxic cleaning products? article

Tenace, Laurie Laurie.Tenace at dep.state.fl.us
Mon Feb 23 14:18:44 EST 2009

more at the web site

Simple elixir called a 'miracle liquid'

By Marla Dickerson 
February 23, 2009 
It's a kitchen degreaser. It's a window cleaner. It kills athlete's foot. Oh,
and you can drink it.

Sounds like the old "Saturday Night Live" gag for Shimmer, the faux floor
polish plugged by Gilda Radner. But the elixir is real. It has been approved
by U.S. regulators. And it's starting to replace the toxic chemicals
Americans use at home and on the job.

The stuff is a simple mixture of table salt and tap water whose ions have
been scrambled with an electric current. Researchers have dubbed it
electrolyzed water -- hardly as catchy as Mr. Clean. But at the Sheraton
Delfina in Santa Monica, some hotel workers are calling it el liquido
milagroso -- the miracle liquid.

That's as good a name as any for a substance that scientists say is powerful
enough to kill anthrax spores without harming people or the environment.

Used as a sanitizer for decades in Russia and Japan, it's slowly winning
acceptance in the United States. A New York poultry processor uses it to kill
salmonella on chicken carcasses. Minnesota grocery clerks spray sticky
conveyors in the checkout lanes. Michigan jailers mop with electrolyzed water
to keep potentially lethal cleaners out of the hands of inmates.

In Santa Monica, the once-skeptical Sheraton housekeeping staff has ditched
skin-chapping bleach and pungent ammonia for spray bottles filled with
electrolyzed water to clean toilets and sinks.

"I didn't believe in it at first because it didn't have foam or any scent,"
said housekeeper Flor Corona. "But I can tell you it works. My rooms are

Management likes it too. The mixture costs less than a penny a gallon. It
cuts down on employee injuries from chemicals. It reduces shipping costs and
waste because hotel staffers prepare the elixir on site. And it's helping the
Sheraton Delfina tout its environmental credentials to guests. 

The hotel's kitchen staff recently began disinfecting produce with
electrolyzed water. They say the lettuce lasts longer. They're hoping to
replace detergent in the dishwasher. Management figures the payback time for
the $10,000 electrolysis machine will be less than a year.

"It's green. It saves money. And it's the right thing to do," said Glenn
Epstein, executive assistant at the Sheraton Delfina. "It's almost like

Actually, it's chemistry. For more than two centuries, scientists have
tinkered with electrolysis, the use of an electric current to bring about a
chemical reaction (not the hair-removal technique of the same name that's
popular in Beverly Hills). That's how we got metal electroplating and
large-scale production of chlorine, used to bleach and sanitize.

It turns out that zapping salt water with low-voltage electricity creates a
couple of powerful yet nontoxic cleaning agents. Sodium ions are converted
into sodium hydroxide, an alkaline liquid that cleans and degreases like
detergent, but without the scrubbing bubbles. Chloride ions become
hypochlorous acid, a potent disinfectant known as acid water.

"It's 10 times more effective than bleach in killing bacteria," said Yen-Con
Hung, a professor of food science at the University of Georgia-Griffin, who
has been researching electrolyzed water for more than a decade. "And it's

There are drawbacks.

Electrolyzed water loses its potency fairly quickly, so it can't be stored
long. Machines are pricey and geared mainly for industrial use. The process
also needs to be monitored frequently for the right strength.

Then there's the "magic water" hype that has accompanied electrolyzed
drinking water. A number of companies sell so-called ionizers for home use
that can range from about $600 to more than $3,000. The alkaline water,
proponents say, provides health benefits.

But Richard Wullaert, a Santa Barbara consultant, said consumers should be

"Some of these people are making claims that will get everybody in trouble,"
said Wullaert, whose nonprofit Functional Water Society is spreading the word
about electrolyzed water. "It's time for some serious conferences with
serious scientists to give this credibility."

Most of the growth has happened outside the United States.

Russians are putting electrolyzed water down oil wells to kill pesky
microbes. Europeans use it to treat burn victims. Electrolyzing equipment is
helping to sanitize drinking water in parts of Latin American and Africa.

Laurie Tenace
Environmental Specialist
Waste Reduction Section
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
2600 Blair Stone Rd., MS 4555
Tallahassee FL 32399-2400
P: 850.245.8759
F: 850.245.8811

Mercury: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/waste/categories/mercury/default.htm 

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