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Why is chlorine dioxide dangerous if taken for COVID-19?

This article was published on
December 15, 2020

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Chlorine dioxide has not been verified by the medical and scientific community as a cure for COVID-19 or other diseases, and its use can be dangerous to human health. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that risks of ingesting chlorine dioxide include: severe vomiting, severe diarrhea, low blood cell counts and low blood pressure due to dehydration, respiratory failure, changes to electrical activity in the heart that can lead to potentially fatal abnormal heart rhythms, and acute liver failure. The Government of Mexico and the Pan American Health Organization (Organización Panamericana de la Salud in Spanish) have also issued warnings to discourage the use of chlorine dioxide as a treatment for COVID-19. Chlorine dioxide is an oxidizing gas that can dissolve in water to form a solution. It is typically used as a disinfectant to sterilize medical and laboratory equipment and facilities or to treat water, rather than being used directly with humans, because it can pose significant health risks and has not been proven to treat diseases. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that while using chlorine dioxide as intended (not as a treatment for disease) is generally safe, direct exposure in larger quantities can cause “damage to the substances in blood that carry oxygen throughout the body.” If experiencing serious poisoning from consumption of a toxic substance like chlorine dioxide, people can seek assistance from a poison control center or seek medical care. Adverse reactions to COVID-19 products can also be reported by consumers and medical professionals to the U.S. FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program.

Chlorine dioxide has not been verified by the medical and scientific community as a cure for COVID-19 or other diseases, and its use can be dangerous to human health. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that risks of ingesting chlorine dioxide include: severe vomiting, severe diarrhea, low blood cell counts and low blood pressure due to dehydration, respiratory failure, changes to electrical activity in the heart that can lead to potentially fatal abnormal heart rhythms, and acute liver failure. The Government of Mexico and the Pan American Health Organization (Organización Panamericana de la Salud in Spanish) have also issued warnings to discourage the use of chlorine dioxide as a treatment for COVID-19. Chlorine dioxide is an oxidizing gas that can dissolve in water to form a solution. It is typically used as a disinfectant to sterilize medical and laboratory equipment and facilities or to treat water, rather than being used directly with humans, because it can pose significant health risks and has not been proven to treat diseases. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that while using chlorine dioxide as intended (not as a treatment for disease) is generally safe, direct exposure in larger quantities can cause “damage to the substances in blood that carry oxygen throughout the body.” If experiencing serious poisoning from consumption of a toxic substance like chlorine dioxide, people can seek assistance from a poison control center or seek medical care. Adverse reactions to COVID-19 products can also be reported by consumers and medical professionals to the U.S. FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program.

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What our experts say

Chlorine dioxide has not been verified by the medical and scientific community as a cure for COVID-19 or other diseases, and its use can be dangerous to human health. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that risks of ingesting chlorine dioxide include: severe vomiting, severe diarrhea, low blood cell counts and low blood pressure due to dehydration, respiratory failure, changes to electrical activity in the heart that can lead to potentially fatal abnormal heart rhythms, and acute liver failure.

The Government of Mexico and the Pan American Health Organization (Organización Panamericana de la Salud in Spanish) have also issued warnings to discourage the use of chlorine dioxide as a treatment for COVID-19.

Chlorine dioxide is an oxidizing gas that can dissolve in water to form a solution. It is typically used as a disinfectant to sterilize medical and laboratory equipment and facilities or to treat water, rather than being used directly with humans, because it can pose significant health risks and has not been proven to treat diseases. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that while using chlorine dioxide as intended (not as a treatment for disease) is generally safe, direct exposure in larger quantities can cause “damage to the substances in blood that carry oxygen throughout the body.”

If experiencing serious poisoning from consumption of a toxic substance like chlorine dioxide, people can seek assistance from a poison control center or seek medical care. Adverse reactions to COVID-19 products can also be reported by consumers and medical professionals to the U.S. FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program.

Context and background

Misleading claims about using chlorine dioxide as a treatment for COVID-19 have been spreading in North, Central and South America since the spring of 2020, often shared on social media and through social networks. Despite the efforts of government agencies and health organizations to warn people about the health risks of using chlorine dioxide, there are still fraudulent products being sold on the market, sometimes under the name Miracle Mineral Solution or MMS (solución mineral milagrosa or SMM in Spanish). The U.S. FDA has been issuing warning letters to sellers of fraudulent products, including products containing chlorine dioxide, to try to protect consumers.

Resources

  1. Toxic Substances Portal - Chlorine Dioxide & Chlorite (U.S. CDC)
  2. Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Warns Seller Marketing Dangerous Chlorine Dioxide Products that Claim to Treat or Prevent COVID-19 (U.S. FDA)
  3. Danger: Don’t Drink Miracle Mineral Solution or Similar Products (U.S. FDA)
  4. MedWatch: The FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program (U.S. FDA)
  5. Fraudulent Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Products (U.S. FDA)
  6. La cofepris informa sobre el riesgo que representa el uso de la sustancia denominada dióxido de cloro o solución mineral milagrosa (Government of Mexico
  7. La OPS advierte contra el uso de productos de cloro como tratamientos para COVID-19 (UN)

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