The Dangerous Mistake You've Been Making at Home During Coronavirus

It's time to talk about all those disinfecting products you're using to fight COVID-19.

You've likely been doing more sanitizing and disinfecting in your home these last several months than ever before. The coronavirus' ability to live on various surfaces has meant that regularly wiping down countertops, door knobs, and just about any other spot in your home became essential to ensuring the safety of you and your family. And while diligent disinfecting practices can be very effective at killing the coronavirus, failing to take proper precautions with the cleaning products you use to do so can pose a serious health risk. Unfortunately, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recent data shows many people are using their cleaners and disinfectants in very dangerous ways.

According to a recent survey from the CDC, 39 percent of the 500 respondents reported engaging in high-risk practices with their disinfectants in an attempt to prevent coronavirus transmission. The survey's findings showed that 19 percent of respondents used bleach on their produce, 18 percent used household cleaning and disinfectant products on their hands or skin, and 4 percent even reported drinking or gargling diluted bleach solutions, soapy water, and other cleaning and disinfectant solutions.

bleach being poured out of white bottle against blue background

"Respondents who engaged in high-risk practices more frequently reported an adverse health effect that they believed was a result of using cleaners or disinfectants," the CDC said in its report. "Although adverse health effects reported by respondents could not be attributed to their engaging in high-risk practices, the association between these high-risk practices and reported adverse health effects indicates a need for public messaging regarding safe and effective cleaning and disinfection practices aimed at preventing SARS-CoV-2 transmission in households."

Recent data from the CDC also shows that, in 2020, the number of calls made to poison centers each day due to exposure to cleaning products and disinfectants increased significantly when compared with the last two years. Between January and March of this year, the National Poison Data System (NPDS) received 45,550 exposure calls related to cleaners (28,158) and disinfectants (17,392). That's a 20.4 percent increase from the same period in 2019 and a 16.4 percent jump from 2018. Along with increased use due to the coronavirus, the CDC also cited improper use of cleaners and disinfectants as a contributing factor to the spike in exposure calls.

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"To reduce improper use and prevent unnecessary chemical exposures, users should always read and follow directions on the label, only use water at room temperature for dilution (unless stated otherwise on the label), avoid mixing chemical products, wear eye and skin protection, ensure adequate ventilation, and store chemicals out of the reach of children," the agency advised. And to help ensure a healthy living environment for you and your family, here's how Doing This One Thing at Home Greatly Reduces Your Coronavirus Risk.

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