40 Percent of Americans Have Done This Dangerous Thing to Fight Coronavirus

Have you taken your coronavirus cleaning regimen too far?

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, many Americans now take precautions that would have seemed unimaginable just months ago. These days, we avoid crowds, never leave home without a mask, and clean our homes to exacting standards. For the most part, our efforts are effective in fighting the virus—and importantly, they pose no great harm to our health and safety. However, as a recent survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals, nearly 40 percent of people are going too far in their efforts to stay safe by misusing dangerous chemicals and household cleaning products in an effort to thwart transmission of the virus.

According to the CDC report, these dangerous practices included applying bleach to food (most commonly fruits and vegetables), rubbing disinfectant products on skin, inhaling household cleaners, and in some rare cases, even drinking or gargling with chemicals or bleach-based solutions.

Though one might assume that those who reported engaging in these habits were simply unaware of the associated dangers, this was not the case. The CDC noted that the survey respondents reported intentionally using these high-risk strategies, despite warnings against them. They weighed the risks and simply determined that coronavirus was the greater threat.

The CDC didn't mince words in setting the record straight. They pointed out that there has been a "sharp increase in calls to poison control" regarding exposure to chemicals and disinfectants since the pandemic began—and that these unsafe practices are largely to blame. Confirming the CDC's claim that these risky habits are taking a toll, 25 percent of survey respondents reported having suffered an adverse health effect—including sinus problems, skin and eye irritation, headaches, respiratory problems, and more—that they believed was the result of their unsafe use of cleaners or disinfectants.

In short, if you've been engaging in any of these high-risk habits, it's time to stop putting yourself in harm's way. Though every cleaning and disinfecting product is different, there's one fool-proof way you can be sure to keep safe: read the directions on labels, and heed their warnings. Your health and safety depend on it. And to learn more about how your cleaning routine is putting you in danger, check out The One Thing You're Doing Wrong Every Time You Disinfect.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more