Influence of reactive oxygen species on the sterilization of microbes

Han S. Uhm, Eun H. Choi, Guang S. Cho, Daniel H. Hwang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The influence of reactive oxygen species on living cells, including various microbes, is discussed. A sterilization experiment with bacterial endospores reveals that an argon-oxygen plasma jet very effectively kills endospores of Bacillus atrophaeus (ATCC 9372), thereby indicating that oxygen radicals are the key element of sterilization. Ozone in acidic water also kills endospores of B. atrophaeus very effectively, demonstrating the capability of cleaning a large surface area contaminated by toxic biological agents. The viable microbe numbers after the contact with acidic ozone water directly correlate with increase in the ozone decay time in water after lowering the pH value of water from pH = 7 to 4 indicating that acidic ozone water is an effective means of sterilizing microbes. However, advanced cells such as fertilized eggs were not greatly influenced by the acidic ozone water. Also, both human and canine cells after treatment with the acidic ozone water prospered without showing signs of stress due to ozone in acidic water. This study suggests that antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase can be developed in the advanced cells to protect themselves from attacks by reactive oxygen species. Meanwhile, the advanced cells utilize oxygen by certain enzymes, proliferating life on earth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCurrent Applied Physics
Issue numberSUPPL.1
StatePublished - Mar 20 2013


  • Antioxidant
  • Ozone
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Sterilization of microbes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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