Cleaning with spray detergent, rubber gloves and dish cloth is the safest way to clean a surface. (BCCDC photo)

Cleaning with spray detergent, rubber gloves and dish cloth is the safest way to clean a surface. (BCCDC photo)

B.C. poison control officials see spike in disinfectant exposure calls amid COVID-19

BC Centre for Disease Control urging people to clean safely and not mix chemicals

Poison control officials in B.C. have been responding to a noticeable uptick in calls related to cleaning chemical exposures as many work to keep surfaces clean and COVID-19 free, sparking a warning from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

According to the centre, officials have seen a 60-per-cent spike in calls from adults over the age of 20 years old for exposure to disinfectants since early March, following confirmation of the province’s first death in a long-term care home.

While the centre usually sees nine calls in a week related to adult exposure to bleach, as of late officials have been receiving upwards of 20 calls on any given day.

On March 22, there were more than 65 calls about disinfectant exposure.

Some of the calls have been about people using cleaners in excessive amounts, using chemicals that should be diluted at full bottle strength and mixing chemicals that should not be mixed, the BCCDC said in a statement Thursday.

“Fortunately, we haven’t seen any serious injuries, but ingesting or improperly mixing cleaning chemicals can be fatal,” said Dr. Tom Kosatsky, the centre’s medical director of Environmental Health Services.

“We’re glad to see the people of B.C. taking measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but please keep in mind that cleaners and disinfectants are powerful substances and need to be used safely.”

Calls about bleach are particularly concerning, the centre continued, because mixing bleach with vinegar, ammonia or rubbing alcohol can create toxic gases.

The BCCDC is urging everyone to use household cleaners safely, by following all label directions, and never mixing chemicals – especially for cleaning food directly, in which case potable water and mild soap should suffice.

If accidentally exposed to chemicals, call the Poison Control Centre at 1-800-567-8911 and do the following first aid measures:

  • Inhalation: ventilate the area and seek fresh air
  • Eye exposure: flush eyes with water for 5-10 minutes
  • Skin exposure: flush skin with water for 5 minutes
  • Ingestion: drink ½ cup to 1 cup of water

@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC HealthCoronavirusHand sanitizer poisoning

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Protesters marched in support of BC Housing’s plans to build supportive housing in Hope on Dec. 4. Walking protesters followed by around a dozen vehicles made their way from district hall in Hope to the BC Housing-owned site at 650 Old Hope Princeton Way. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Hope protesters pound pavement in favour of supportive housing

Protest march follows 4-to-1 vote in council, preventing BC Housing from building 52 units in Hope

CN Rail confirmed seven empty grain cars derailed near North Bend Dec. 2 to 3 overnight (File Photo)
No danger to life or environment following overnight derailment near North Bend

Seven empty rail cars derailed overnight Wednesday, Dec. 2 near the Fraser Canyon community

An anonymous person has decorated a tree and posted a sign encouraging others to do the same on the Teapot Hill Trail, and Bill Wojtun shared the idea on Facebook. (Facebook photo)
Could Cultus Lake’s Teapot Hill become Holiday Hill this Christmas?

An anonymous person is encouraging people to decorate trees on the local trail

Information about the number of COVID-19 cases in Abbotsford and other municipalities poses a danger to the public, the Provincial Health Services Authority says. (Photo: Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News)
More city-level COVID-19 data would jeopardize public health, B.C. provincial health agency says

Agency refuses to release weekly COVID-19 case counts, citing privacy and public health concerns

RCMP don’t want to see you having your vehicle towed away after an aggressive driving infraction. (RCMP photo)
Chilliwack RCMP hand out more than 500 tickets in aggressive driving crackdown

Police say they’ll continue to focus on speeding, aggressive and distracted driving

Pickleball game in Vancouver on Sunday, November 8, 2020. B.C.’s public health restrictions for COVID-19 have been extended to adult team sports, indoors and outside. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
711 more COVID-19 cases detected in B.C. Friday

‘Virus is not letting up and neither can we’

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

(Hotel Zed/Flytographer)
B.C. hotel grants couple 18 years of free stays after making baby on Valentines Day

Hotel Zed has announced a Kelowna couple has received free Valentines Day stays for next 18 years

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

Chilliwack General Hospital. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress file)
Chilliwack mother upset about son’s alleged suicide attempt after hospital discharge

Rhonda Clough said 34-year-old son suffering with bipolar disorder should have been kept in hospital

Victoria-based driving instructors are concerned for their own and the community’s safety with the continued number of residents from COVID hotspots in the Lower Mainland coming to the city to take their driving road tests. (Black Press Media file photo)
Students from COVID hotspots travel to Vancouver Island for driving tests

Union leader calls on government to institute stronger travel ban

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix wears a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19, during an announcement about a new regional cancer centre, in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, August 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
PHSA bought faulty respirators; spent money on catering, renovations: Dix

Such spending included ‘unnecessary, unbudgeted renovations’ to the authority’s headquarters in Vancouver

Most Read