JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Caribbean Poison Information Network (CARPIN) is warning members of the public to desist from mixing household chemicals to create sanitising agents.
  • In an interview with JIS News, Poison Information Coordinator, Sherika Whitelocke-Ballingsingh, said it has come to the attention of her office that persons have been mixing cleaning agents in an effort to make them stronger and more effective against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • According to Mrs. Whitelocke-Ballingsingh, the mixing of household chemicals can have negative effects in numerous ways.

The Caribbean Poison Information Network (CARPIN) is warning members of the public to desist from mixing household chemicals to create sanitising agents.

In an interview with JIS News, Poison Information Coordinator, Sherika Whitelocke-Ballingsingh, said it has come to the attention of her office that persons have been mixing cleaning agents in an effort to make them stronger and more effective against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

According to Mrs. Whitelocke-Ballingsingh, the mixing of household chemicals can have negative effects in numerous ways.

“You may mix chemicals whose active ingredients react with each other and create a toxic mix; you may not mix the chemicals using the correct proportions and there are adverse effects from the chemical fumes that are created, which include respiratory symptoms, some of which are very similar to those of COVID-19,” she said.

These symptoms, she added, include shortness of breath, chest tightness and coughing which can be mistaken for something else.

Mrs. Whitelocke-Ballingsingh pointed out that if persons are using homemade chemicals, persons should stick to one of the following – alcohol, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide or bleach.

She said each of these, on its own, has antiseptic properties and, as such, there is absolutely no need to mix them with any other substance for them to be effective.

“There are some disinfectants that have quaternary ammonium compounds that should not be mixed with chlorine, which is the active ingredient in bleach,” she warned.

“In particular, a mixture of bleach and ammonia creates chloramine gas, exposure to which can cause coughing, nausea, shortness of breath, watery eyes, chest pain, irritation to throat, nose and eyes, wheezing, pneumonia and fluid in the lungs,” Mrs. Whitelocke-Ballingsingh added. She pointed out that another harmful mixture is chlorine bleach and acid, which creates chlorine gas that becomes hydrochloric and hypochlorous acids when mixed with water.

Mrs. Whitelocke-Ballingsingh informed that when an individual is exposed to low levels of chlorine gas and over short periods of time, the mucous membranes (eyes, throat and nose) are almost always irritated.

“This causes coughing and breathing problems, burning and watery eyes and a runny nose,” she said.

The Poison Information Coordinator also warned that higher levels of exposure to chlorine gas can lead to chest pain, severe breathing difficulties, vomiting, pneumonia and fluid in the lungs and even death in extreme circumstances.

She also pointed out that bleach can react with other cleaning products, such as some oven cleaners, hydrogen peroxide and some insecticides.

“It is, therefore, absolutely important for persons to read all labels, as they are likely to have instructions indicating what the chemicals should not be mixed with,” she advised.

Persons who experience adverse effects after mixing chemicals are being implored to call the Poison Information toll-free number at 18887647667/1888POISONS.

Skip to content