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Tadashi Narabayashi

【#673(Special)】Rescue U.S. Carriers from Coronavirus Infection

Tadashi Narabayashi / 2020.04.16 (Thu)

April 13, 2020

Crewmembers aboard the Theodore Roosevelt and three other U.S. Navy nuclear-powered aircraft carriers have been found infected with the novel coronavirus. Given that U.S. carriers engage in important operations to deter threats from China, North Korea, Iran and others, the spread of the virus infection could seriously affect security in the world including the Indo-Pacific region. So, I have proposed the use of hypochlorous acid water for preventing the infection to U.S. experts and got positive responses.

Hypochlorous acid water is effective in “three Cs” environment

Hypochlorous acid water is prepared from sodium hypochlorite that is produced through the electrolyzation of salt water to be mixed with citric acid to become slightly acid. In such form, hypochlorous acid can demonstrate the strongest disinfecting power without affecting human health, according to many published studies. The food industry has used hypochlorous acid water for cleansing vegetables and sterilizing cooking equipment. Major home electrical appliance manufacturers have put on sale air purifiers that spray hypochlorous acid water. Hypochlorous acid water may be sprayed to air-conditioning equipment or put into ultrasonic humidifiers on aircraft carriers to deactivate or destroy coronaviruses.

I have ever toured an aircraft carrier in San Diego, California, the home port of the Theodore Roosevelt. While the captain is given an elegant cabin looking like a VIP room, lower-ranking crewmembers are assigned with smaller rooms. Many of crewmembers use multiple bunk beds similar to those on former Japan Railways’ “Blue Train” sleepers. Crewmembers have no choice but to live in an environment featuring so-called “three Cs”: confined spaces without windows, crowded sleeping spots and close contact with each other. One infected crewmember could soon spread viruses to cause a cluster infection. This may be the same case with less spacious nuclear-powered submarines. Such environment is worse than that on the cruise ship Diamond Princess with personal rooms for passengers, on which coronavirus infection spread during its stay at a Japanese port earlier this year.

U.S. experts’ positive response

Hypochlorous acid water can be used for killing viruses contained in micro droplets drifting inside an aircraft carrier. It may also be useful for sterilizing masks and goggles to prevent droplet infection. Unlike sodium hypochlorous, hypochlorous acid water does not have to be accompanied by the use of rubber gloves. It does not have to be washed away from hands, either. Hypochlorous acid water may be the most effective means for preventing infection on aircraft carriers.

I sent an email to top members of the Information System on Occupational Exposure operated jointly by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD/NEA), proposing the use of hypochlorous acid water for nuclear power plants and aircraft carriers. In an immediate response, an American member said my proposal would be conveyed to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the head of a think tank for the Department of Defense.

Just after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, the U.S. aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan based in Yokosuka, Japan, joined disaster relief operations under so-called Operation Tomodachi (“Operation Friends” in Japanese). It is one of the four U.S. aircraft carriers on which the novel coronavirus infection has been found. By proposing the coronavirus infection prevention measure, I would like to repay the United States for Operation Tomodachi.

Tadashi Narabayashi is a specially appointed professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology and a director at the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals.