Photo of a spray booth in Quezon City (Ecowaste Photo)
The environmental health group EcoWaste Coalition called on commercial and other establishments to cease from spraying coronavirus disinfectants on individuals, especially those not wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE).
The group urged concerned establishments to heed the advisories issued by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and stop the unsafe practice of spraying individuals with disinfectant solutions, which is “a really bad idea,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
“We urge concerned establishments to act on the health warning issued by the authorities and dismantle booths that are still being used to spray chemical disinfectants on individuals wearing casual clothes, especially in places where people go to buy essential goods,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
Last Saturday, WHO warned that “spraying disinfectants can result in risks to the eyes, respiratory or skin irritation and the resulting health effects,” adding that “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."
“Spraying or fumigation of outdoor spaces, such as streets or marketplaces, is also not recommended to kill the COVID-19 virus or other pathogens because disinfectant is inactivated by dirt and debris,” the WHO also said.
According to the advisories issued by DOH and DILG, “commonly used chemical disinfectants such as hypochlorite are irritant to the skin and the mucous membrane (eyes, nose, and throat), and may also have adverse health effects when inhaled in an enclosed environment.”
“There are limited evidence-based studies to show that chemicals used for surface disinfectants intended to eliminate the human coronavirus would have the same efficacy when applied in the ambient environment or in humans,” the DOH said in a memorandum issued last April 10.
In an advisory issued last April 18, the DILG advised LGUs to prohibit the use of disinfection tents, misting chambers or sanitation booths for individuals without PPE in view of the DOH memorandum.
The Infection and Prevention Control Unit of WHO’s World Health Emergencies Programme had previously advised governments against spraying individuals with disinfectants for COVID-19 prevention.
‘We strongly advise that the spraying of individuals or groups is not recommended under any circumstances. Spraying an individual or group with chemical disinfectants or detergents is physically or psychologically harmful and does not limit the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Maria Clara Padoveze, Infection Prevention and Control Expert, WHO.
“Even if a person is infected with the COVID-19 virus, spraying the external part of the body does not kill the virus inside the body and may worsen the clinical condition of the individual,” she explained.