The author of the following article is a non-clinician
Research firm Nielsen reported a dramatic increase in the sale of aerosol disinfectants in March, with numbers rising 343% from just a year ago.
This increase could have been exponentially higher had manufacturing companies been able to keep up with the sudden demand.
In early July the EPA issued an official statement touting Lysol Disinfectant Spray and Lysol Disinfectant Max Cover Mist as being safe and effective for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
What was not included with the release were the health hazards associated with these products or guidance on how to use them safely and correctly.
Cleaners and disinfectants are being used at a ferocious rate.
This brings us to the most important question we can ask: are these products, Lysol and so many others, doing more harm than good?
By dispelling five common myths, we can collectively adopt safer, more effective disinfecting and cleaning practices that do not lead to immediate and long-term health consequences.
Myth No. 1: Lysol Kills Germs on Contact.
Many people believe that simply spraying a disinfectant on a surface kills germs on contact, leading to the spray-and-wipe method we’re all used to seeing.
However, according to the EPA Lysol would need to remain wet on a surface for three minutes to properly disinfect.
To specifically kill SARS-CoV-2, the easiest type of virus to eliminate, the surface would need to remain wet for a full 2 minutes.
The CDC recommends using disinfecting products with the shortest contact time possible.
Myth No. 2: Misting Lysol Into the Air Kills Germs
There is a right and a wrong way to use disinfectants. Spraying your home with wild abandon tops the list of wrong. According to Lysol, the correct way to use their product is to "pre-clean the surface prior to use, hold the can upright 6" to 8" inches from surface, spray 6 to 7 seconds until covered with mist, let stand for 3 minutes, allowing it to air dry."
Myth No. 3: Lysol Is a One-Step, One-Stop Shop
Despite the commercials, using Lysol requires a much more tedious process to eliminate germs and ensure health and safety. After the pre-clean step and required three-minute wet time, many surfaces like kitchen counters and children’s toys must be rinsed thoroughly with water to remove harmful residues left behind.
Myth No.4: It's Safe to Breathe in Lysol’s Many Fragrances
Lysol may not be as gentle or "fresh" as variety names like For Baby’s Room and Fresh Beginnings might lead you to believe. According to the manufacturer, the product contains added fragrances and perfumes, in addition to other chemicals which are known to cause asthma and other respiratory issues.
They also contain ingredients that are Toxic Air Contaminants and are found on the EPA’s list of chemicals we need to make it a priority to eliminate.
For teachers, nurses, and other workplace employees, the product Safety Data Sheet suggests users employ Level B PPE protection. Level B PPE includes a "full-facepiece self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA)" and "hooded chemical-resistant clothing." However, slick EPA-approved marketing lingo includes phrases such as "smell the clean," "controls allergens," "for a fresher home," and "mom tested, Lysol approved."
Myth No. 5: Lysol Disinfectant Spray is Safe for Use Around Your Family and Pets
The Safety Data Sheet for Lysol Disinfectant Spray advises to keep the product out of the reach of children and warns of extreme flammability, moderate eye irritation and avoidance of eyes, skin, and clothing. Safety Data Sheets also include broad liability, accuracy, and omission waivers, and place the sole responsibility for education and proper use on the end user.
While most disinfectants are regulated by the EPA as Antimicrobial Pesticides, some doctors refer to them as being like a modern day asbestos: initially thought to be wholly beneficial and relatively harmless, extended exposure resulted in dangerous health risks.
Similarly, it has been shown that people who use disinfectants without proper PPE are at risk for long term and even immediate health threats including eye irritation, headaches, neurologic symptoms, skin problems, and respiratory issues.
Ironically, having respiratory issues makes a person more vulnerable to COVID-19.
In these confusing times of blaring headlines and constantly evolving health and safety guidelines, it has never been more important to not only read the labels and follow contact times, but to truly understand the risks of common household and commercial disinfecting and cleaning products.
Rayne Guest was home birthed and raised in the mountains of Idaho. She attended five universities while studying various fields including business, marine biology, and nutrition. She has spent time in Southeast Asia, Europe, Australia, Brazil, Israel, Africa, among many others and is driven to do good by doing good in the world. As founder and CEO of R-Water, Rayne is developing patented cleaning and disinfecting technologies to further this cause, while unapologetically shaking up archaic industries. Read Rayne Guest's Reports — More Here.
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