Illegal and dangerous claims regarding disinfection chemicals

Health and Safety Executive guidance (first published 2 November 2020) states…

“Sometimes companies advertise that the active ingredients and biocide used in these types of systems are completely non-toxic, environmentally friendly, harmless or natural, such claims are illegal. Even where products are not specifically labelled as hazardous when applying such agents in fogs, or fine spray mists that may come into contact with the eyes and upper airways, there is evidence that in susceptible people (such as asthmatics) airway reactions can be provoked and there is no easy way to predict these reactions.”

This is absolutely true. No chemical used for disinfection is harmless or natural. Facts to consider are:

  • After treatment, does the disinfectant safely and quickly biodegrade into elements that are naturally found in our environment and themselves pose no risk to humans, animals or plants?
  • Does the disinfectant leave a chemical residue post-treatment, a residue that could be hazardous, with eye, respiration and skin irritant or toxicity risks?

To view the HSE’s guidance in full visit: www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/disinfecting-premises-during-coronavirus-outbreak.htm

In May 2020, the World Health Organisation published their guidance regarding fogging as a disinfection method, specifically stating which disinfectant solutions they advise against using:

“Moreover, spraying disinfectants can result in risks to the eyes, respiratory or skin irritation and the resulting health effects.39 Spraying or fogging of certain chemicals, such as formaldehyde, chlorine-based agents or quaternary ammonium compounds, is not recommended due to adverse health effects on workers in facilities where these methods have been utilized.”

To view the WHO’s guidance in full visit: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/cleaning-and-disinfection-of-environmental-surfaces-inthe-context-of-covid-19

Published 6 January 2021
Written by Abby Elliott, Director, Sanondaf Hampshire South
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