Many Canadians are spending more time cleaning and disinfecting their homes, but apparently aren’t always doing it safely.
According to Health Canada, reported exposures to cleaning products, bleaches, disinfectants, hand sanitizers, and chlorine and chloramine gases have significantly increased since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In March 2019, there were between 483 and 487 cleaning product and disinfectant related exposures reported to Canadian poison centres.
Exposures more than doubled in March 2020, with 985 exposures reported.
There are multiple reasons for this concerning increase.
Melanie and Brent Mensch started residential cleaning company Handy Housewives in Saskatoon sixteen years ago. They said cleaning products have specific purposes and although some products are hard to come by right now, mixing chemicals together is never the solution.
“The idea of making a super chemical or super disinfectant right now because people just really want to make sure that they’re going to kill what’s out there,” Brent Mensch said.
The virus may be killed, but there could be major consequences.
One of the most common and dangerous mixtures is bleach combined with vinegar. It creates chlorine or chloramine gases which is a very toxic chemical.
Bleach is an effective and accessible disinfectant by itself, but should be diluted. Health Canada recommends one cup of water for every teaspoon of bleach used.
There are also risks in having cleaning products in your home, even if you aren’t using them.
Mensch suggests throwing away products you don’t use. Cleaning products should be stored out of reach from children and pets. Storing products close together can also pose a risk, especially if they start leaking.
“If the product leaks, I just recommend throwing it out. Some of the toilet bowl cleaner containers now, they’re notorious for leaking and making a mess. Get rid of them. You don’t want to put it in another container it’s not designed for,” Mensch suggests.
It’s important to read labels of the products you’re using in your home to ensure you’re using it correctly.
Health Canada’s website has a list of products that can be used against the coronavirus causing COVID-19. You can look up product names or the Drug Identification Number (DIN) on the product label.
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