Ooh look – an ad for a building sterilization system pretending to be news

Grr.  These types of stories really bug me: British technology set to banish germs in hospitals and homes | City & Business | Finance | Daily Express.  It is in theory a news story.  But it is pretty much an advertisement for this Odorox building sterilization system with no critical reporting.

Here are some claims in the article I find to be dubious:

  • “It is already being used in America where it has been deployed to improve air quality in a host of buildings from breweries and recycling plants to car production units, clinics and residential properties.” — I don’t see any evidence present ed that it actually “improves” air quality.
  • “OHT believes Odorox could also help fight the threats from the flesh-eating bug MRSA in hospitals and play a significant role in reducing infection risks in nursing homes.” — I guess the key here is “could” so I guess this is not completely dubious but some evidence would be nice
  • “Powered by mains electricity, the low energy Odorox machines replicate the antiseptic action of sunshine.” — well, this seems a bit much.  Is sunshine really an antiseptic?
  • “Hydroxyls are capable of neutralising more than 5,000 types of air pollutants including fumes, smoke, hydrogen sulphide, carbon monoxide and ozone.” Neutralizing?  They are also capable of creating all sorts of nasty things.
  • “They also kill airborne and surface bound viruses, bacteria and moulds as well as neutralising air or odours trapped in fabrics”.  These hydroxyls also can cut a melon open, solve the traveling salesman problem, and produce world peace.
  • “But Odorox says the hydroxyls are totally harmless where humans, animals, plants or materials such as plastic or rubber as concerned.” What? So – they decontaminate everything.  They kill all microbes.  And they are harmless to humans, plants and animals.  Wow.  (And not in a good way – this is complete BS).

This is just ridiculous.  I assume this is from a press release from the company but I could not find it.  It is an ad masquerading as news.  Oh – and even if this worked as they say – killing all germs and not harming anything else.  Would that be a good thing?  Not all microbes are bad.  Some are good.  And nuking microbial ecosystems might be a bad idea in buildings just like it is a bad idea in people.


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Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. My lab is in the UC Davis Genome Center and I hold appointments in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology in the School of Medicine and the Department of Evolution and Ecology in the College of Biological Sciences. My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis (see my lab site here which has more information on lab activities).  In addition to research, I am heavily involved in the Open Access publishing and Open Science movements.