To try to kill the novel coronavirus, some Americans are unsafely using disinfectants and cleaners, including washing food with bleach, using the products on bare skin, and inhaling and ingesting them, federal health officials reported Friday.

Health experts caution explicitly against using cleaning products in those ways.

The findings come from an online survey of 502 adults conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in May. Thirty-nine percent had misused the cleaning products, and one quarter reported “an adverse health effect that they believed was a result” of the products.

advertisement

Of the respondents, 19% said they had used bleach on food, 18% said they had applied household cleaners to their skin, 10% said they had misted themselves with disinfectant sprays, 6% had inhaled vapors from the cleaners, and 4% had drunk or gargled diluted bleach solutions, soapy water, or other disinfectants.

“These practices pose a risk of severe tissue damage and corrosive injury and should be strictly avoided,” the CDC researchers wrote in a paper, published in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. “Although adverse health effects reported by respondents could not be attributed to their engaging in high-risk practices, the association between these high-risk practices and reported health effects indicates a need for public health messaging regarding safe and effective cleaning practices aimed at preventing SARS-CoV-2 transmission in households.” (SARS-CoV-2 is the formal name of the novel coronavirus.)

advertisement

The paper does not mention President Trump’s public questioning at a press conference in April of whether an “injection inside” the body of a disinfectant could kill the virus. His remarks led poison control centers and manufacturers of cleaning products to reiterate that disinfectants and cleaners should not be ingested, inhaled, or injected. The president later claimed he was trying to prank reporters with his remarks.

The CDC survey set out to see if consumers knew how to safely store and use disinfectants at a time when health officials were urging regular cleanings of high-touch surfaces to combat the spread of the virus. It also came amid an increase in calls to poison control centers about exposures to cleaning products.

Support STAT: If you value our coronavirus coverage, please consider making a one-time contribution to support our journalism.

The survey showed that many people did not know how to safely use different cleaning products, even as most said they knew how to properly store and use them. About a quarter of respondents knew that only room temperature water should be mixed with bleach, and a third knew not to mix bleach with vinegar. More of the respondents — about two thirds — knew that eye protection and gloves were recommended when using certain cleaners.

The researchers pointed to several limitations of their report, including whether the respondents were representative of the country.

  • Who is more idiotic? The people presenting this “scientific” report knowing it’s not done the proper scientific way or an unbelievable 20% people who cannot even read a product label little less to use what’s called a common sense. In any case it’s a tragedy upon a tragedy.

  • Given the politics over Trump’s bleach statement?

    That 1 in 5 actually put bleach on food or that a bunch of people trolled this totally unscientific, opt-in survey?

    I love StatNews, but this survey is probably as reliable and the Surgispehre data.

  • Another anti-Trump rubbish by “experts”. Trump should tell people PhDs prevent COVID-19 and then we see if more people will enroll for PhD courses.

    The “experts” and the media take millions of people as fools.

  • “Thirty-nine percent had misused the cleaning products” – so about the same percentage that voted for Trump in 2016. Basically the most uneducated inbred Americans ever, that blame immigrants/liberals/global trade/opiates/China/gun control/Obama Care for their lot in life, rather than taking ownership for educating themselves and improving their situation.

    • But I thought it was rich people and the one percent that voted for Trump? That is a narrative often heard–that Trump is “for the rich.” This would conflict with your characterization of the entire percentage you state being a bunch of mouth breathers.

  • This bit of “throw away “ information was gleaned from an online survey of 502 people, compiled, analyzed and written by 11, yes 11 PhD’s.
    We learned that a small, non-representative group of people using smartphones or computers are dumb enough to poison themselves because they have been scared out of their gourds by misrepresentations by “experts” and the slavish media.
    The only scientific principles proved here is that 1. Agitprop works 2. Darwin is right.
    Oh, and one other thing the Orange Guy is bad!

    • Everyone is to blame: The media, the idiots, the experts…even the researchers leading this “throw away” study.
      Yes, everyone is to blame. Everyone, that is, except the President. That bastion of truth and tremendous ideas. That paragon of dignity, knowledge, and measured leadership. Thank you for opening our eyes. You are a tremendous American.

    • It’s everyone else’s fault, right? Please, pretty please, take some ownership. There is no perfect administration, no one can get everything right all of the time, so it’s ok to be objective and call things as they are. This administration has made many errors, many were costly. I am not sure how one can deny that.

  • Bleach on the skin is not very dangerous. I have soaked my feet in bleach and water plenty of times to remove bacteria and fungus. There are no problems. I even use a mixture of bleach and 91% isopropyl alcohol as a sanitizer because using public transportation and washing one’s hands frequently is not viable. I would not put bleach on open wounds and sores but for infrequent or occassional use I would recommend it. No, do not drink it. That will kill a person.

    • I would not do what you are doing with bleach–but clearly you are getting by with it and presumably still well enough to write. My dentist says to rinse my mouth with diluted bleach. In fact that has been in vogue among west coast dentists for about the last 8 years. I refused to do it, but many are and doing great keeping the cavities at bay. So you may be right that some dilute usage is not as dangerous as one would think.

Comments are closed.

Sign up to receive a free weekly opinions recap from our community of experts.
Privacy Policy