WorkSafeBC says household cleaners can be dangerous if not used correctly. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Cleaning for COVID-19: Mixing products can create toxic gases

‘We’re not all chemists so keep it simple,’ Saanich fire chief says

As COVID-19 spreads, health officials recommend residents take a number of precautions to protect themselves including practicing social distancing, proper handwashing and regular disinfecting of high-touch surfaces.

But some chemicals shouldn’t be mixed while cleaning.

There is a wide selection of household cleaning products on the market but many of them can be dangerous if not used correctly – if used in the wrong concentrations or mixed with other chemicals, a WorkSafeBC spokesperson explained.

For example, according to WorkSafeBC, isopropyl alcohol – an ingredient in many hand sanitizers and often used in cleaning – is flammable, can irritate the skin and eyes and is poisonous if consumed.

READ ALSO: Woman treated in View Royal after mixing cleaners

Bleach is commonly used in cleaning and disinfecting but if mixed with household ammonia products or acidic cleaners, it can create toxic gases. Some concentrated bleaches and acids can also burn the skin and eyes.

The best way to find out how to safely use a product is to read the product label and the safety data sheet that can often be found online, said Deputy Chief Dan Wood of the Saanich Fire Department. He advises against mixing any cleaning products as the outcome can be hazardous.

“We’re not all chemists, so keep it simple,” Wood said.

He added that antibacterials won’t be effective against COVID-19 as it’s a virus, not a bacteria. Instead, he suggests following the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (CDC) guide for an effective virucide: five tablespoons of bleach per gallon of water or four teaspoons bleach per quart of water.

READ ALSO: National coronavirus update, March 24: Parliament suspends emergency session

According to the B.C. CDC website, household bleach is “effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted” as long as it’s not expired. Solutions with at least 70 per cent alcohol or most common Environmental Protection Agency-registered household disinfectants are also said to be effective against the virus.

In the event of an emergency involving a hazardous gas, Wood says to evacuate the area and call 911. The local fire department will have the proper safety equipment to go in and clean up, he added.

The Occupational Health and Safety Regulation and Workers Compensation Act also still applies to anyone working from home and WorkSafeBC recommends checking with a supervisor before using a chemical.


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Southridge students raise $5,600 for hospital meal program

GoFundMe campaign funds two months of meals at Peace Arch Hospital

Surrey kids get cooking during free SuperChefs camps pushed online by pandemic

‘Enthusiastic’ launch of program, which sees ingredient pickup at one local school

Court awards woman $143K for two Whalley rear-ender crashes, one by a bus

In both cases, Brigitte Bergeron’s vehicle was hit from behind while stopped at an intersection

Surrey RCMP searching for missing woman last seen in Crescent Beach

Milcah Kasomali-Chirumbwana last seen at 4:35 p.m. July 5 in the 12300-block of Beecher Street

Pubs accused of ‘negligently’ serving alcohol before Surrey traffic crash

The case concerns an Aug. 2, 2015 single-vehicle crash

Horrifying video shows near head-on collision on Trans Canada

The video was captured on dash cam along Highway 1

COVID-19: B.C. promotes video-activated services card

Mobile app allows easier video identity verification

ICBC to resume road tests in July with priority for rebookings, health-care workers

Tests have been on hold for four months due to COVID-19

Would you take a COVID-19 vaccine? Poll suggests most Canadians say yes

75 per cent of Canadians would agree to take a novel coronavirus vaccine

Abbotsford school vice-principal accused of getting Instagram ‘confessions’ page shut down

@A.S.S.S.Confessions page claims school officials contacted families to find out person behind page

Recreational chinook openings leave First Nations frustrated on the Lower Fraser

Limited recreational openings for chinook on the Chehalis and Chilliwack rivers being questioned

Budget officer pegs cost of basic income as calls for it grow due to COVID-19

Planned federal spending to date on pandemic-related aid now tops about $174 billion

Sexologist likens face mask debate to condom debate: What can we learn from it?

Society’s approach to condom usage since the 1980s can be applied to face masks today, one expert says

Most Read