Cleaning with spray detergent, rubber gloves and dish cloth is the safest way to clean a surface. (BCCDC photo)

B.C. poison control officials see spike in disinfectant exposure calls amid COVID-19

BC Centre for Disease Control urging people to clean safely and not mix chemicals

Poison control officials in B.C. have been responding to a noticeable uptick in calls related to cleaning chemical exposures as many work to keep surfaces clean and COVID-19 free, sparking a warning from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

According to the centre, officials have seen a 60-per-cent spike in calls from adults over the age of 20 years old for exposure to disinfectants since early March, following confirmation of the province’s first death in a long-term care home.

While the centre usually sees nine calls in a week related to adult exposure to bleach, as of late officials have been receiving upwards of 20 calls on any given day.

On March 22, there were more than 65 calls about disinfectant exposure.

Some of the calls have been about people using cleaners in excessive amounts, using chemicals that should be diluted at full bottle strength and mixing chemicals that should not be mixed, the BCCDC said in a statement Thursday.

“Fortunately, we haven’t seen any serious injuries, but ingesting or improperly mixing cleaning chemicals can be fatal,” said Dr. Tom Kosatsky, the centre’s medical director of Environmental Health Services.

“We’re glad to see the people of B.C. taking measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but please keep in mind that cleaners and disinfectants are powerful substances and need to be used safely.”

Calls about bleach are particularly concerning, the centre continued, because mixing bleach with vinegar, ammonia or rubbing alcohol can create toxic gases.

The BCCDC is urging everyone to use household cleaners safely, by following all label directions, and never mixing chemicals – especially for cleaning food directly, in which case potable water and mild soap should suffice.

If accidentally exposed to chemicals, call the Poison Control Centre at 1-800-567-8911 and do the following first aid measures:

  • Inhalation: ventilate the area and seek fresh air
  • Eye exposure: flush eyes with water for 5-10 minutes
  • Skin exposure: flush skin with water for 5 minutes
  • Ingestion: drink ½ cup to 1 cup of water

@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC HealthCoronavirusHand sanitizer poisoning

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Beloved Chemainus resident dies at 106

Dorothy Adair adored by the many people she met in the community in two short years

Sudden death leaves Lake Cowichan’s Shanahan family of five children without a father

GoFundMe campaign set up by wife Tiffany’s friend to help during crisis

From theatres to patios, Vancouver Island Symphony plays through the pandemic

A series of pop-up concerts are taking place in various locations from Saltair to Comox

Webinars provide emotional support, training for caregivers

Following the webinars, recordings of the sessions will be available to watch

Duncan model makes quarter finals in ‘Maxim’ magazine contest

Brandee Peart among top one per cent left in competition

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

Man arrested for allegedly pushing unsuspecting seniors, jumping on cars at Parksville mall

Cops arrest man after ‘aggressive incident’ at Wembley Mall in Parksville

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Most Read