CDC Urges Caution After Survey Reveals About 1 in 3 Adults Misused Bleach Or Disinfectant In Attempts To Protect Themselves From Coronavirus


A recent survey, released June 5, of more than 500 adults in the U.S. revealed an alarming number of people had engaged in unsafe use of bleach, disinfectants and other cleansers as an attempt to prevent contracting the Covid-19 coronavirus.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says about 1 in 3 adults intentionally used chemicals and disinfectants unsafely.

Some of the high-risk practices included using bleach to “wash” fruits and vegetables, applying household cleaning and disinfectant products to bare skin, and inhaling, gargling, or ingesting cleaners and disinfectants.

The CDC reports, “These practices pose a risk of severe tissue damage and corrosive injury and should be strictly avoided.”

Among the respondents, 25% say they suffered from the misuse of the cleaners with 11% having nose or sinus irritation; 8% had skin irritation; 8% had eye irritation, 8% reported dizziness, lightheadedness or headache; 6% had an upset stomach or nausea and 6% had breathing problems.

The median age of participants was 46 with 52% female; 63% white, 16% Hispanic, 12% black and 8% multiracial or other race. They represented all U.S. census regions with 38% from the South, 24% from the West, 21% from the Midwest and 18% from the Northeast.

Survey results also revealed that participants had limited knowledge of safe preparation of cleaning and disinfectant solutions:

·       Only 23% knew that only room temperature water should be used for preparation of dilute bleach solutions

·       35% knew that bleach should not be mixed with vinegar

·       58% knew that bleach should not be mixed with ammonia

Knowledge was higher when involving use of personal protective equipment.

·       64% said eye protection was recommended for use of some cleaners and disinfectants

·       71% said gloves were recommended for use

·       68% responded that handwashing was recommended after using cleaners and disinfectants

·       73% knew that adequate ventilation is recommended when using these products

·       79% knew cleaners and disinfectants should be kept out of reach of children

·       54% said hand sanitizers should be kept out of reach of children

The CDC urges evidence-based, safe practices such as frequent hand washing and frequent cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces.

It emphasizes the importance of reading and following label instructions, using room temperature water for dilution (unless otherwise stated on the label). Also, it’s critical to avoid mixing chemical products as well as wearing skin and eye protection and ensuring proper ventilation.



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