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

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

Trail medical lab makes changes amid pandemic

Rossland and Salmo clinics are not seeing immunocompromised or suspect/symptomatic patients.

New city hall, four-storey development proposed for Rossland

The building would include 37 affordable housing units

Deadline approaching for Rossland Museum and Discovery Centre request for proposals

Applicants have until April 10 to submit their proposals for the project

‘Better days will return’: Queen Elizabeth delivers message amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Queen said crisis reminds her of her first address during World War II in 1940

Emergency aid portal opens Monday, cash could be in bank accounts by end of week: Trudeau

Emergency benefit will provide $2,000 a month for those who have lost their income due to COVID-19

Education, not enforcement: B.C. bylaw officers keeping a watch on physical distancing

A kind word, it turns out, has usually been all people need to hear

COVID-19: Hospitals remain safe for childbirth, say Vancouver Island care providers

North Island Hospital has been asked to share its perinatal COVID-19 response plan

Canadian cadets to mark 103rd anniversary of Vimy Ridge April 9 virtually

Idea of Captain Billie Sheridan in Williams Lake, B.C. who wondered what to do in times of COVID-19

B.C. VIEWS: Pandemic shows need for adequate care home staffing

Seniors in B.C. care homes face challenging times

QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Take this test and find out how well you know Canada’s most popular winter sport

Most Read