CDC: Some Americans Are Gargling With Bleach or Putting It on Food to Fight COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns Americans not to engage in the dangerous practices

cleaning products
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In an attempt to keep themselves safe from the spread of coronavirus, a number of Americans are misusing household cleaners, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Amid an uptick in poison control calls around the country, which were widely reported after President Donald Trump made remarks about injecting bleach, the CDC conducted an online survey in May, asking 502 adults how they’ve been using cleaning and disinfecting products throughout the pandemic.

The CDC found that a total of 39 percent of respondents reported having used household cleaners in ways the agency does not recommend.

Among the high-risk practices, 19 percent of respondents said they used bleach to clean their food, 18 percent said they used household cleaners and disinfectant products to wash their hands and body, and 4 percent also admitted to drinking or gargling “diluted bleach.”

The largest gap of knowledge related to people’s understanding about how to safely prepare household cleaning solutions.

Only 23 percent knew to only use room temperature water to dilute bleach solutions, and a number of people also did not know that bleach should never be mixed with vinegar and ammonia — which can generate gases that damage lung tissue when inhaled.

Moreover, although the survey identified a number of “knowledge gaps and high-risk practices,” the CDC noted that “most respondents believed that they knew how to clean and disinfect their homes safely.”

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Moving forward, the CDC recommends that COVID-19 prevention messages “should continue to emphasize evidence-based, safe practices,” like washing your hands and using disinfectants on frequently touched surfaces. The messages should also include specific recommendations for preparing, using and storing cleaners, disinfectants, chemicals and hand sanitizer.

"These messages about cleaning and disinfection practices for COVID-19 prevention can be coordinated and disseminated through trusted sources of information such as national, state, and local public health agencies and medical providers,” the CDC wrote, noting that those are the three most trusted sources for COVID-19-related cleaning information.

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