Amazon and eBay have both removed products that were being sold as health supplements but appeared to contain “industrial-strength bleach”, after being contacted for comment by BuzzFeed News.
Until yesterday, “Aerobic Oxygen” was available via eBay's Click and Collect service, meaning it could be delivered to local branches of Argos and Sainsbury’s – for £39.99 for two 60-millilitre bottles. A similar product, "Aerobic O7", was also available. The bottles’ instructions tell users to take a few drops a day in cold drinks.
And also until yesterday, Amazon offered Aerobic O7 via its paid-for next-day delivery service, Amazon Prime, at £22.90 for 70 millilitres.
However, both websites appear to have removed the products from sale after being contacted for comment by BuzzFeed News.
BuzzFeed has previously tested a bottle of Aerobic Oxygen that it bought via the website of a former UKIP parliamentary candidate. The product's ingredients list says it is just water and salt – sodium chloride – but chemical tests revealed it to be a powerful corrosive alkali, comparable in strength to oven cleaner or industrial-strength bleach. Dr Dan Cornwell, a chemist at King’s College London, said it was most likely sodium chlorite, a chemical used in industrial paper-bleaching, or a similar product.
Aerobic O7 lists sodium chlorite in its ingredients. It is not known how alkaline the solution is.
The Food Standards Agency has warned in the past about the sale of sodium chlorite solutions, including a product marketed as a health supplement under the name Miracle Mineral Solution, or MMS. MMS has been touted as a treatment for HIV, cancer, autism and several other conditions, and has been linked with at least one death.
According to the FSA, “when taken as directed [MMS] could cause severe nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, potentially leading to dehydration and reduced blood pressure”, and if "the solution is diluted less than instructed, it could cause damage to the gut and red blood cells, potentially resulting in respiratory failure”. The body tells people to avoid MMS and similar, more dilute, substances, and says MMS is “equivalent to industrial-strength bleach”.
Aerobic Oxygen is also available on Amazon through third-party sellers.
Aerobic Oxygen’s website tells users to take 60 drops a day, in three batches of 20 drops in cold drinks. It also warns that it can have unwanted effects: “If you are taking too much Aerobic Oxygen (detoxifying too fast), your body will tell you with an upset stomach, loose bowels or possibly headaches. This is not dangerous, just uncomfortable. Listen to your body; start at a lower dose and gradually increase.”
Aerobic O7’s manufacturers say to use “6-8 drops per 8oz [225 millilitres] of water”. On the side of the bottle, it says: "If consumed in concentrated form, it may cause irritation and nausea. If consumed undiluted, drink milk followed by yogurt or other sources of friendly bacteria."
Aerobic Oxygen and Aerobic O7 are both described as “oxygen supplements”. However, David Colquhoun, a professor of pharmacology at University College London, told BuzzFeed News for an earlier story: “You don’t absorb oxygen through your stomach. There’s not the slightest reason to think it works for anything.”
He added that if they are sodium chlorite, “it would be madness to drink it”. “A few drops in a glass of water probably won’t actually kill you,” he said, “but that’s a slim marketing claim.”
BuzzFeed contacted the FSA about the sale of Aerobic Oxygen for its earlier story. The body said in a statement: "The FSA has issued advice that sodium chlorite solutions are not safe and should not be sold for human consumption." It said its National Food Crimes Unit was reviewing the information and may "pursue further action" if necessary.
Michael Marshall, the project director of the Good Thinking Society, a pro-science charity, told BuzzFeed News: "These products are very worrying.
"While it is encouraging to see Amazon and eBay have taken down the listings for these products, they need to put policies in place that ensure retailers don't list these products or similarly dangerous products in the future. Until such policies are put in place, we fear the health of customers will continue to be put at risk."
In its warning, the FSA said: "Anyone who has any of these products [MMS, another solution called CDS, or similar products] should throw them away. If someone has consumed MMS, CDS or similar products and feels unwell, they should consult their doctor."
A spokesperson for eBay said in a statement: "eBay is a marketplace and sellers must comply with our policy guidelines. Our teams conduct regular sweeps of the site and remove any listings that contravene these guidelines.” A spokesperson for Argos said: “Our stores provide a convenient collection point for eBay customers. All items must comply with eBay’s terms & conditions.”
Amazon has declined to comment.