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

Claiming she has COVID-19, stranger coughs in Cloverdale woman’s face

Clayton Heights woman will now self-isolate for the next two weeks

Police watchdog finds cops blameless for deaths in 2019 Surrey hostage-taking

Woman was killed as ERT officers fired on man holding a knife to her throat and ‘what appeared to be’ a gun in his hand

No, Delta police are not pulling over cars to check for social distancing

DPD dispelling rumour cops pulling over vehicles with two or more people, checking IDs, issuing fines

White Rock/South Surrey experts launch website of mental-health resources

Together White Rock/South Surrey aims to help ease the search for supports

B.C. couple celebrates 61st anniversary through seniors’ home window

Frank and Rena Phillips marked occasion at Nanaimo Seniors Village this week while social distancing

A look at some of the B.C. inventors creating life-saving tools in fight against COVID-19

Groups across B.C. are working together to create what they hope will help people affected by the pandemic

Association launches French-language games, online tools for families learning at home

Games, culture and vocabulary included in new virtual resources

‘There can be no ambiguity’: Travellers brought home to B.C. must self-isolate

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the mandatory isolation must be abided by

55+ BC Games cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns

Greater Victoria set to host 2021 event

BC Hydro offers three-month bill ‘holiday’ for those affected by COVID-19

Industrial customers can defer half of their power bills

VIDEO: Dog missing in Lower Mainland since winter sees his family again for the first time

Aldergrove helped find Buster, says dad, who has now witnessed ‘the power of social media’

Some April Fool’s Day jokes bring much-needed laughter; others tone deaf to COVID-19

Police are warning the public not to use the ongoing pandemic as a punchline

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

Most Read