Public told: Improper use, handling of disinfectants pose serious health risks

April 20, 2020

THE Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday warned the public that the improper use, handling and abuse of disinfectants may pose serious health risks.

The FDA said that while many would find the ready-to-use cleaners and disinfectants convenient to use, the improper usage could cause serious health problems and may send them to hospitals.

“While it is critical for all household members to not only observe strict home quarantine, proper hand washing, personal hygiene practices, the public should exercise caution when using these chemical-based cleaning and disinfectant products as they may pose risk when used indiscriminately, beyond their intended use, and inconsistently with label instructions,” FDA said in its advisory.

FDA encouraged the public to observe safety precautions:

* Select appropriate cleaning and disinfectant products. Ensure use of recommended type of cleaning and disinfectant product for specific items (ie. children’s toys, electronics), or surface areas to be cleaned or disinfected.

* Always read the label. Product labels contain information for the safe and effective use of cleaners and disinfectants. Follow the instructions for use, dilution rate and contact time (as applicable), safety precautions, personal protective equipment (PPE) to be used, and appropriate storage and disposal of the product at all times.

Pre-cleaning (with mild soap or detergent and water) should be performed first prior to disinfection for optimal efficiency.

* Use the product as intended. Avoid using products intended for surface disinfection as hand sanitizers for personal use. Improper usage and undue exposure to chemical-based products may lead to physical harm or injury, and serious adverse effects to one’s health.

* Handle and apply cleaners and disinfectants properly. Ensure use of PPE such as gloves whenever handling chemical-based cleaners and disinfectants. Maintain proper ventilation during and after application. Disinfectants intended for institutional use must be applied by trained personnel wearing appropriate and suitable PPE. In cases where the product needs dilution, observe proper handling and protection. Containers used in measuring the concentrate should be immediately rinsed.

Use product judiciously and apply only in amounts as directed in the label.

* Avoid mixing of cleaners or disinfectants with other chemicals. This may either lead to a more hazardous chemical mixture or to becoming less effective due to change or altered properties.

* Store and dispose of cleaners and disinfectants properly. Freshly prepared cleaning and disinfecting solution is recommended to be used and consumed. Prepare only a sufficient or exact amount to avoid storing unused mixture for future use. Store unused cleaning and disinfecting solutions in properly labeled containers, and keep in storage area not easily accessible to children.

In case of accidental poisoning, call the nearest poison control in the area, or the University of the Philippines – National Poison Management and Control Center (UP-NPMCC) at (02) 8524-1078.