The Dangers of Extreme SanitizationBy Miriam Bello | Tue, 04/21/2020 - 11:45
Authorities from all over the world have asked the population to take sanitization measures and increase cleaning routines during this COVID-19 outbreak. How long does SARS-CoV-2 survive on surfaces? According to a research done by the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the University of California and Princeton, the virus can survive up to three days, depending of the surface. On plastic and stainless steel, COVID-19 can survive and preserve its infectious capacity for three days. On cardboard, the virus survives for 24 hours and just four hours on copper.
WHO has declared that it is important to disinfect surfaces constantly to avoid COVID-19 contagion. While it is not clear if or how many people have got infected from touching a contaminated surface, the possibility exists. Another general concern was the survival rate of SARS-CoV-2 on food but there is no real proof that points to contagion from food nor water.
Since the pandemic started, many companies have released products claiming that they specifically work against COVID-19. However, there are official lists with cleaning products that do work of sanitizing surfaces. Bleach and alcohol are among the most effective ones, along with povidone iodine and Lysol. But all of them contain chemicals that require responsible use in order to be effective for sanitization only.
The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said bleach is the best way to kill the virus on surfaces, as adding other chemicals could release deadly gases. Among the instruction list for proper sanitization, the Center has a list of symptoms that can arise in case of overuse or misuse of products. In Mexico, UNAM has declared that mixing vinegar, alcohol and peroxide is toxic and can even be deadly. According to the CDC, the calls for poisoning related to cleansers and disinfectants have increased by 20 percent. Within this number, children under five were one of the most affected groups.
Back in March, Mexico reported the hospitalization of two people that ingested bleach and a multiuse cleaning product to avoid getting COVID-19. The patients reported that they have heard that doing gargles with bleach or pinol was effective to combat COVID-19. Specialists from the hospital in Queretaro have said the consumption of those products could actually cause a chemical pneumonia. This shows how spreading fake news is a danger and must be avoided. Treating information with responsibility is everyone’s job.
Mexico is now on Phase 3 of contagion, meaning that now, more than ever, preventive protocols and measures must be followed, responsible sanitization of surfaces have to implemented and staying home to prevent a crisis is key to avoid further damage.