Resolving the “health vs environment” dilemma with sustainable disinfection during the COVID-19 pandemic

Wanru Chen, Hangqi Yang, Chuang Peng, Tao Wu

    Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    The overuse of disinfection during the COVID-19 pandemic leads to an emerging “health versus environment” dilemma that humans have to face. Irresponsible and unnecessary disinfection should be avoided, while comprehensive evaluation of the health and environmental impacts of different disinfectants is urgently needed. From this discussion, we reach a tentative conclusion that hydrogen peroxide is a green disinfectant. Its on-demand production enables a circular economy model to solve the storage issues. Water, oxygen, and electrons are the only feedstock to generate H2O2. Upon completion of disinfection, H2O2 is rapidly converted back into water and oxygen. This model adopts several principles of green chemistry to ensure overall sustainability along the three stages of its whole life cycle, i.e., production, disinfection, and decomposition. Physical methods, particularly UV irradiation, also provide sustainable disinfection with minimal health and environmental impacts.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)24737-24741
    Number of pages5
    JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


    • Chemical safety
    • Circular economy
    • Health vs environment
    • Hydrogen peroxide
    • On-demand production
    • Sustainable disinfection
    • UV irradiation

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Environmental Chemistry
    • Pollution
    • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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