By Jay Ryan
Extra cleaning and disinfection have become routine since the Coronavirus first hit early this year. While disinfection is among the most effective ways to curb the virus, many are unaware of the health risks that chemical disinfectants pose.
Overuse and misuse of disinfectant chemicals is perhaps the most under reported story of the pandemic.
Well-intentioned people, trying to stop the spread of COVID-19, have unintentionally exposed themselves and others to harmful chemicals. We are being exposed to these chemicals in volumes and frequencies that were previously unheard of.
Disinfecting chemicals were never intended to be used like this. Disinfectants are classified by the EPA with insecticides. They are produced to kill microbes; they are not cleaning agents. Experts worry about the consequences.
A CDC study of the number of reports to poison centers regarding disinfectants and cleaners reveals a significant increase in total exposure from 2019 to 2020.
Exposure by inhalation has increased the most, leading to respiratory problems. There has been a 108.79% increase from 2019 to 2020. Disinfectants are being sprayed on porous surfaces such as curtains, carpets, and upholstered furniture, which then emit fumes for hours, or even days. Scientists at Indiana University recently concluded that the increased use of chemical disinfectants is “concerning, as exposure to these compounds has been associated with adverse effects on reproductive and respiratory systems.”
Incidents of dermal problems caused by chemical disinfectants have increased by 57.24%. Our skin is our largest organ and is vulnerable to chemical exposure.
Experts also warn of potential neurological and immunological problems.
Children are most at risk due to more frequent touching and “mouthing” of objects. Experts worry that exposure to chemical disinfectants could be detrimental to developing immune and reproductive systems.
What will the actual impact be?
Right now, scientists can only predict, but they don’t believe any good can result.
Chemical disinfectants had known harmful side effects before the pandemic. The CDC list of chemical disinfectants reveals an array of possible side effects. General toxicity, dermatological ailments, eye damage, and respiratory disease are established problems.
When these disinfectants were used for occasional accidents, spills, and infestations, they were a reasonable risk. When used to wipe down high touch, non-porous surfaces they also make sense. One can only imagine, however, the long-term effects we will see down the line from their current overuse and misuse.
Unfortunately, health issues caused by exposure to chemical disinfectants will likely outlast the pandemic. Claudia S. Miller, an immunologist, allergist, and professor emeritus at the University of Texas, explained that she does not think it’s smart to be “exposing people to disinfectants on top of this risk of having a virus infect their lungs.”
The harm from this heavy use of harmful chemicals has not been widely reported. The pandemic, quarantines, and the presidential election have dominated the headlines. Safety and health experts are aware. And some innovators and entrepreneurs have worked hard to find safer and healthier alternatives.
UVC light can be used to disinfect an entire facility without any harmful chemicals or toxins. No liquids are sprayed, and no residue or odor are left behind. Trained technicians come to your premises and do the work for you.
Fixtures that will safely kill airborne viruses, the main agent of infection, are also available. These are safe and are operated using Bluetooth controls or a manual timer. Users are assured that their air is being cleaned at night so that it is safer each morning.
Heading into the winter, it is important that business owners take measures to prevent COVID from spreading in their facilities. It’s equally important to protect people from harmful chemical disinfectants. BluZap UV Disinfection Company can help you do both.
Ryan is a Co-Founder & Chief Illumination Officer of BluZap UV Disinfection, a company offering disinfection services as well as fixtures to disinfect facilities without using any toxins or chemicals.