By Russell Maas, Aboutlawsuits.com, March 2, 2021.
Federal health officials are warning against the use of ozone gas or ultraviolet (UV) light to clean continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices or accessories, indicating these cleaning methods have not been approved and could result in adverse health consequences.
In a safety communication issued on February 27, 2020, the FDA indicates that patients and healthcare professionals should refrain from using illegally marketed ozone gas or ultraviolet (UV) light cleaning products to disinfect or sanitize CPAP devices. The warning comes after nearly a dozen reports involving patients suffering respiratory complications after trying one of these cleaning methods.
CPAP devices provide steady air pressure through a mask or nose piece, granting continuous positive airway pressure to prevent the user’s airway from collapsing, thus preventing constant broken sleep.
The devices are often used by those diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, which is a condition that causes a person’s airway to collapse during sleep, resulting in short periods of time where the individual stops breathing. Individuals suffering from sleep apnea have a greater risk of experiencing adverse health and heart problems. Typically, these individuals have a higher risk of suffering hypertension, stroke, heart disease and daytime sleepiness.
The FDA indicates it has received at least 11 reports of CPAP cleaning problems involving use of ozone or UV light products from 2017 through 2019, involving individuals who experienced coughing, difficult breathing, nasal irritation, headaches, asthma attacks and other breathing problems after using the unapproved products.
Although ozone gas is used to kill harmful bacteria for certain products, for the process to be effective in killing harmful bacteria it must be present at high concentrations that far exceed safe levels of exposure to humans. Consequently, patients could be exposed to unsafe levels of ozone gas which may result in a variety of adverse health consequences to an individual’s respiratory system.
Exposure to UV light poses a number of potential health risks for patients, including burns, eye damage or increasing the risk of skin cancer due to overexposure. The FDA indicates that it has not become aware of any injuries directly related to patients who cleaned their CPAP devices with a UV light, however, the agency warns the UV light may not be able to penetrate all components of CPAP devices and accessories, such as the plastic tubing, masks and connectors. The inadequate cleaning of these accessories could result in unsafe conditions for reuse.
The FDA has never approved the use of ozone gas-or UV light based products to clean CPAP machines and is instructing patients and healthcare professionals to stop using these cleaning methods immediately.
The FDA has identified several manufacturers who are illegally marketing ozone gas or UV light-based products for CPAP cleaning. The agency has requested they submit data demonstrating the safety and effectiveness of their products, indicating they need clearance and approval to keep marketing those items.
The FDA urges patients to follow the CPAP machine cleaning instructions provided by the manufacturers, which indicate users should only use soap and water to thoroughly rinse, cleanse and disinfect the devices.
Patients and healthcare professionals are encouraged to report any adverse events related to the products through the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting System.