‘A lethal killer’: Decon-7 co-inventor stands by advanced decontamination formula
Mark Tucker, who has a Ph.D., said Decon7 stands apart from other disinfectants in safely eliminating bacteria and viruses, including coronavirus, from contaminated spaces. Tucker worked at Sandia National Laboratories for 35 years before he retired and joined Decon7 Systems LLC as chief scientific officer.
“While I was at Sandia, myself and another chemist developed a chemical formulation that decontaminates chemical and biological warfare agents, like anthrax or nerve agents, that terrorists or other militaries could use against the United States or other governments,” said Tucker.
That chemical formulation has been used by the military and civilian agencies in response to terrorist actions and some military actions, he said. “When Sandia Labs makes something like this, Sandia doesn’t actually have the capability to produce and sell it so it’s licensed out to private companies for production and sales,” he said.
That is why Decon7 Systems was established to commercialize the technically advanced decontamination formula called Decon7, or “D7.” “Decon7 is one of those companies that licensed the product from Sandia Labs and began producing it and selling it,” he said.
Since then, Decon7 Systems has greatly expanded Decon7’s use beyond its original purpose. Today it is used as a disinfectant in a number of industries such as food processing, to address pathogens like salmonella, and for first responders who can be exposed to contaminated environments.
Back in January, when the coronavirus emerged, a large amount Decon7 was exported to China and utilized in Wuhan and a number of other areas where it was found to be effective against COVID-19, said Tucker.
When the coronavirus came to the U.S., people recognized that Decon7 was a very good product and it began getting very widespread use throughout the U.S. and in almost every country that has any coronavirus outbreak, he said.
“The main reason why it works so well is that when somebody coughs or sneezes or expels coronavirus, that virus isn’t by itself,” said Tucker. “It’s actually surrounded by bodily fluids like nasal mucus and saliva.”
Those bodily fluids actually protect the virus from other disinfectants, said Tucker. “So for example, if you use bleach or alcohol or something like that, those disinfectants are actually repelled by those bodily fluids, and don’t reach the virus so the virus actually survives,” he said.
Tucker said Decon7 has a combination of chemicals, including detergents, hydrogen peroxide and a few other ingredients that help the disinfectant penetrate into those bodily fluids, reach the virus and kill it.
“That’s what makes it so effective as compared to other disinfectants and why it’s found such widespread use,” he said. Even before the coronavirus, Tucker says Decon7 had a very good business and they had two production plants that were producing the chemical.
“Now we’re up to about 10 production facilities because we’ve had such a high demand for Decon7,” said Tucker. He said the company is getting up to 30 calls an hour at their headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona, where they had to add additional staff.
Before COVID-19, Decon7 Systems had about 10 full-time employees and now they are up to about 30. Tucker said they have been doing a lot of work with police and fire stations, health-care facilities, transportation hubs, schools, and meat processing facilities where there has been COVID-19 exposure amongst the workers.
“We’re in virtually every facility you can imagine,” he said. He said the military also buys a lot of Decon7. “They’re using it for COVID-19 at this time as well,” he said. Tucker said that Decon7 is on the Environmental Protection Agency’s “N” list that includes all the disinfectants that are proven for use against coronavirus.
He explained that Decon7 has been tested against other coronaviruses, but not specifically against COVID-19. “It’s been tested against coronaviruses that are actually more difficult to kill than the COVID-19 virus and that’s why it’s on the list ‘N,’” he said. Decon7 has also been tested against other types of virus like norovirus that are really difficult to kill, said Tucker.
Meanwhile, Tucker recommends everyone continue taking precautions like wearing your mask, using hand sanitizer and washing your hands. “All of those are good practices and are going to protect you,” he said. Tucker said probably the most effective disinfectant individuals can buy at Walmart is bleach, but it is flawed because it can be repelled by bodily fluids that surround the virus.