With the emergence of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) as a viable alternative to chlorine in the treatment of municipal drinking water, the health effects of H2O2 are gaining greater attention. The following examines scientific study and reporting of a compound discovered almost two centuries ago.
The French chemist Louis-Jacques Thenard discovered hydrogen peroxide in 1818, and appropriately named it “eau oxygenee” or oxygenated water.
Hydrogen peroxide is completely compatible with and necessary for life.
Hydrogen peroxide is composed of two hydrogen atoms and two oxygen atoms [HO-OH]. It is an effective germicide that is essentially composed of water with an additional oxygen atom bound to it.
It is an oxidizer, meaning it can break down organic materials for the purpose of disinfection. When hydrogen peroxide reacts with organic material it breaks down into oxygen and water and leaves no byproduct.
Hydrogen peroxide can be purchased over the counter at most drug stores and the health section of grocery and department stores.
Hydrogen peroxide is completely compatible with and necessary for life. (CSTEE Opinion, 2001).
Natural sources of hydrogen peroxide are abundant in the environment (NSF Oral Risk Assessment; 2010) where hydrogen peroxide occurs naturally at low levels in the air and water, in human and plant tissues and bacteria, and in food and beverages.
Exposure to hydrogen peroxide occurs commonly in everyday life through inhaling air or direct exposure through eye or skin contact (European Commission; Scientific Committee on Toxicity, Ecotoxicity and the Environment; CSTEE; 2001).
H2O2 is found in high amounts in mother’s milk, and the H2O2 contained in the first milk (colostrum) is even higher (Williams, 2013), and promotes the body’s first line of defense against toxins, parasites, bacteria, viruses and yeast.
Hydrogen peroxide is known in regulatory terms as “GRAS” (generally recognized as safe) in many jurisdictions and is an approved food additive in Canada and the United States. The Government of Canada lists hydrogen peroxide as a Food Additive. (Canada Food and Drugs Regulations [C.R.C., c.870] Division 16, B.16-100; Table V C.1  and Table VIII (8) H.1 ;;
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved hydrogen peroxide for use in bottled drinking water in 2005: “Addition to Food for Human Consumption (21 CFR part 172), to provide for the safe use as an antimicrobial agent in bottled drinking water….” (U.S. Federal Register; Department of Health and Human Services; FDA; 21 CFR Part 172; Docket No. FDA-2005-F- 0505).
In the U.S. it is used for bleaching in various food processes and for sterilization of aseptic packaging of milk and juice products. In Japan, hydrogen peroxide is permitted for use as a direct food additive. In dentistry, oxygen gas liberated from hydrogen peroxide is applied to root canals and has been used in tooth whitening for over 90 years, as well as in treating periodontal disease.
Hydrogen peroxide is widely used internationally as a bleaching agent in the textile, paper and pulp industries, as an intermediate in the synthesis of other substances, as well as in the treatment of water for human and animal consumption and for agricultural uses. It is used in wine and liquors for aging.
The integrity of hydrogen peroxide as a safe and effective additive and antimicrobial agent is a confirmed and established fact in many nations, in various applications.
Human body functions, including protein, carbohydrate and fat metabolism, vitamin and mineral metabolism and immune system function, require (the presence of) hydrogen peroxide in order to operate effectively, as documented in over 6,100 articles in the scientific literature dating from 1920. Reports exist on the use of hydrogen peroxide in the treatment of over 40 different health conditions. (Hydrogen Peroxide, C.H. Farr, 2003; The Many Benefits of Hydrogen Peroxide, D.G. Williams, 2013).
Dr. David Barnes is Vice-President Product Development and Regulatory Affairs for SanEcoTec Ltd. and AVIVE™. Dr. Barnes is a physician-scientist with expertise in product development, clinical R&D, regulatory approvals and commercial operations for a wide range of consumer products. He is a former Health Canada advisor and has executive-level experience with publicly traded pharmaceutical, biotechnology and health products companies around the world.