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

Just Posted

In the summer of 1950, a dramatic highway sign made an impact

The Manning Park Gallows featured a 10-foot-long cigarette in a noose to warn about forest fires

UPDATED: Interior Health to add 495 long-term seniors care beds

Nelson, Kelowna, Kamloops, Vernon and Penticton to receive new facilities

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

VIA Rail lays off 1,000 unionized workers across the country

Northern B.C. route Jasper to Prince George to Prince Rupert is not affected by VIA Rail layoffs

Sunflower Highway, art initiative to connect Fraser Valley, Thompson-Nicola and Okanagan

Sunflowers made out of reclaimed materials will be installed on public art trails

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

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

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

‘Trauma equals addiction’: Why some seek solace in illicit drugs

Part 2: Many pushed into addiction by ‘toxic stress,’ says White Rock psychologist

Most Read