THE Caribbean Poison Information Network (CARPIN) is warning that there is a difference between cleaning and sanitising when applied to infection control, insisting that knowing this will prevent poisoning through overuse of chemicals.
Poison information coordinator at CARPIN Sherika Whitelocke-Ballingsingh explained that it is important, especially as the country deals with the COVID-19 outbreak, to prevent poisonous exposure through proper infection-control practices.
“The spike in the increased use of chemicals during this period has caused numerous persons to be poisoned from a moderate to a severe level,” she said, citing international reports.
Whitelocke-Ballingsingh pointed to misunderstanding of the role of cleaning and sanitising products as the main issue.
“The objective of using chemicals in infection control is to form a barrier. The chemicals should never cause harm to either the user or other people within the immediate area,” she warned.
According to the poison information coordinator, who is also a poison control researcher, anecdotal evidence suggests that Jamaicans do not understand the difference between cleaning and sanitising, and this creates an avenue for the unnecessary overuse of chemicals.
She shared some basic knowledge that should help individuals to use chemicals more responsibly.
“Cleaning has to do with the removal of dirt and sanitising has to with the removal of pathogenic organisms. Both cleaning and sanitising use specific procedures through chemical application. Cleaning precedes sanitising, which if not adhered to, makes the latter become ineffective,” she advised.
Whitelocke-Ballingsingh said that a common practice is to constantly apply disinfectant or similar chemicals to areas that are not cleaned, which contributes to the overuse of those chemicals and results in harmful exposure to the user, especially if they are not wearing protective gear.
She outlined some steps that should be taken to reduce the risk of harm when using chemicals.
• Clean first then sanitise and allow surface to air dry.
• Always follow the dilution and application method stated on the label of chemicals.
• Never mix chemicals.
• Use chemicals according to manufacturer’s recommendation; therefore, chemicals for surfaces should never be used on the person or body.
• Use chemicals in a well-ventilated environment when possible and ensure to wear protective gear to prevent inhalation and skin or eye exposure.
• Do not spray clothes or bedlinen with chemicals.
• Do not look up when spraying aerosols above your head.
• Do not attempt to spray yourself, children and pets as a method of sanitising.
She said that understanding how to use chemicals in controlling infection spread is key to preventing accidental poisoning.
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