More than a third of Americans misused detergents and disinfectants to prevent infection by the coronavirus, according to a U.S. survey conducted shortly after President Donald Trump publicly asked whether injecting such products could treat COVID-19.
Washing food with bleach, using household cleaners or disinfectants on bare skin, and deliberately inhaling or ingesting these products were some of the most commonly reported “high-risk” practices in a May 4 online survey of 502 American adults, US centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported.
The lead author of the survey said the survey was conducted in response to a “surge” in calls to poison control centers for exposure to detergents and disinfectants during the pandemic.
In late April, Trump asked scientists during one of his coronavirus task force briefings whether injecting disinfectant into the bodies of people infected with the virus could help the disease, horrific health experts say. Household cleaners have been forced to encourage people not to drink or inject their products.
About 39% of those surveyed reported intentionally participating in at least one risky practice not recommended by the CDC to prevent coronavirus infection, including using bleach to clean food, spraying the body with a disinfectant spray, and drinking or gargle with diluted bleach solutions and soap water.
A quarter of the respondents reported having at least one adverse health effect from using these products in the past month.
The CDC suggested that official COVID-19 prevention messages that currently focus on hand hygiene and frequent cleaning should also include instructions on the proper use of detergents and disinfectants and how to keep chemicals out of the reach of children.
Limitations to the survey included a single time point and opt-in rather than a random sample, the agency said.