CDC says 40 percent of Americans surveyed tried using bleach to wash food to prevent coronavirus

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that over a third of Americans who took its survey reportedly misused household cleaners by using them on their fruits and vegetables in the attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Calls to poison control centers regarding disinfectants and household cleaners reportedly went up since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Thirty-nine percent of respondents reported engaging in non-recommended high-risk practices with the intent of preventing SARS-CoV-2 transmission, such as washing food products with bleach, applying household cleaning or disinfectant products to bare skin, and intentionally inhaling or ingesting these products,” the CDC report read.

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An online survey completed in the U.S. by 502 people in May, aimed to identify people’s knowledge and use of household disinfectants.

Respondents of the survey were between the ages of 18-86, with a median age of 46. Fifty-two percent of the respondents were women and the majority of respondents identified as non-Hispanic white.

Over 50 percent of the respondents said they “strongly agreed” that they knew how to properly clean and disinfect their homes safely.

The CDC report noted that the finding show a need to spread more information on safe practices surrounding household disinfectants.

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“This survey identified important knowledge gaps in the safe use of cleaners and disinfectants among U.S. adults,” the CDC reported. “The largest gaps were found in knowledge about safe preparation of cleaning and disinfectant solutions and about storage of hand sanitizers out of the reach of children.”

The CDC also noted that cleaning fruits and vegetables with disinfectants can cause health risks like “severe tissue damage and corrosive injury,” and should be strictly avoided.

The need for public messaging from local, state and national health agencies regarding safe cleaning practices was recommended in the report.

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There are ongoing efforts to identify other knowledge gaps when it comes to safe cleaning and disinfecting methods.

“These data will allow for development and evaluation of further targeted messaging to ensure safe cleaning and disinfection practices in U.S. households during and after the COVID-19 pandemic,” the CDC report added.