Canadians are accidentally poisoning themselves while cleaning to prevent COVID-19

Health Canada posts cleaning advice including what to do in case of poisoning, online and on social media.

Date of Publication: May 5, 2020

Source: CBC

The coronavirus pandemic is regarded as being beneficial for increasing the awareness and practice of hygiene and cleanliness, with everyone across the world becoming more aware of hand washing and disinfecting surfaces. This best-practice to prevent coronavirus spread has in fact become harmful, with increasing rates of cleaner- and disinfectant-related poisonings across the country. In February and March combined, Health Canada states a 58% jump in cases of accidental exposures to cleaning products, bleaches, disinfectants, hand sanitizers, and chlorine and chloramine gases, in comparison to the same months in 2019. The biggest toxic culprit being household bleach, making up 38% of all calls to poison control centers in March. The reported cases include people experiencing burning eyes, trouble breathing and children consuming hand sanitizer. Inappropriate mixing of cleaning products, such as mixing bleach with vinegar or with other cleaning products is attributed as the main cause of these accidents as they lead to the production of deadly gases. Reading labels carefully, following guidelines set by health authorities (not cleaning tips and tricks you find online), judicious use of hand sanitizer, and teaching children these cleaning products are not for consumption are key to preventing these household accidents that can quickly turn lethal.

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Summary by: Hira Raheel