Prof. Keith Warriner

The Weather Network consulted two U of G experts for an article and video on whether mass use of sanitizing spray in public spaces combats viruses or harms the environment.

Prof. Keith Warriner, Department of Food Science, said spraying would have little effect, not only because the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 does not survive well outside the human body but also because bleach loses its effectiveness quickly when exposed to sunlight.

“It’s [the spraying campaigns] not based on science; it’s based on people wanting to look like they are actually doing something,” said Warriner, who researches food microbiology and pathogens, and methods to improve food safety.

Prof. Ryan Prosser

Prof. Ryan Prosser, School of Environmental Sciences, addressed the question of safety. He said if bleach (sodium hypochlorite) entered an aquatic system, it would be toxic to several aquatic species. It could also cause irritation to mammals on the ground as well as birds.

Prosser researches the fate of industrial and agricultural contaminants in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.