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ADPH warns against household cleaning, disinfectant product misuse

According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey conducted in May, about one in three adults used chemicals or disinfectants unsafely while attempting to protect their homes against the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The Alabama Department of Public Health is encouraging people to be safe and use these types of cleaners properly to prevent negative effects.

According to the CDC, 25 percent of the people surveyed reported adverse health effects they attributed to unsafe cleaning, including nose, sinus, skin or eye irritation, dizziness, nausea and breathing problems.

Additionally, reports from poison control centers note that since the pandemic began, some people have used harmful methods such as swallowing bleach in an attempt to kill the virus.

The ADPH advocates frequent cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces as one important way to prevent the risk of exposure to COVID-19 – with usage, of course, confirming to common safety principles. Normal routine cleaning with soap and water will decrease the amount of the virus that is on surfaces and objects.

Disinfection using Environmental Protection Agency-approved disinfectants – a list numbering more than 400, available at epa.gov – against COVID-19 can also help reduce risk. When these are not available, however, CDC recommends that alternative disinfectants be used. Examples include one-third cup of bleach added to 1 gallon of water or 70 percent alcohol solutions.

The ADPD recommends this guidance about the safe preparation, use and storage of cleaners and disinfectants:

·        Read and follow label instructions, such as keeping the surface wet for a specific amount of time.

·        Wear protective gear, such as gloves and eye protection, when using some household cleaning products.

·        Ensure adequate ventilation.

·        Wash hands with soap and water after using cleaning products.

·        Only use water at room temperature to make a diluted bleach solution.

·        Keep all disinfectants out of the reach of children and pets.

·        Never use bleach to wash fruits, vegetables or other food products.

·        Never spray, bathe in or apply household cleaning and disinfectant products on skin.

·        Never inhale, gargle with or ingest cleaners and disinfectants, including soapy water.

·        Never mix bleach solutions with vinegar or ammonia.

Mixing chemicals can be deadly because it can generate gases that might result in severe lung tissue damage when inhaled.

Frequent disinfection of household surfaces and objects touched by multiple people is important in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses in households, according to the CDC and the ADPH.

For more information, visit alabamapublichealth.gov.

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