Health Ministry Says Disinfectants Meant for Inanimate Objects, Not Humans


Apr 20, 2020


Image Credit: PTI

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued an advisory on Sunday against spraying humans with disinfectants to curb the spread of Covid19, as it is physically and psychologically harmful.

Besides causing irritation in the eyes and skin, such practices are leading to a “false sense of disinfection and safety,” which the Ministry fears may result in a reduction in hand washing and maintaining social distance — two of the most effective and necessary measures to curb the spread of Covid19. Further, inhaling sodium hypochlorite, a common ingredient in disinfectants, causes gastrointestinal issues such as nausea and vomiting.

In addition, “Inhalation of sodium hypochlorite can lead to irritation of mucous membranes to the nose, throat, respiratory tract and may also cause bronchospasm (a condition that causes difficulty in breathing),” reads the advisory.

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Last month, a group of 40 migrant workers returning home to Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh were sprayed with a mix of water, sodium hypochlorite, and odor-removing chemicals by the police. In an effort to avoid similar episodes — particularly because migrant workers are set to resume work today in the states they are currently residing in — the Health Ministry stated in the advisory, “Even if a person is potentially exposed with the COVID-19 virus, spraying the external part of the body does not kill the virus that has entered your body. Also, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that they are effective even in disinfecting the outer clothing/body in an effective manner.”

The Ministry further clarified that disinfectants are chemicals that destroy disease-causing pathogens and are meant to be used on inanimate objects. “Chemical disinfectants are recommended for cleaning and disinfection only of frequently touched areas/surfaces by those who are suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.”


Written By Anubhuti Matta

Anubhuti Matta is an associate editor with The Swaddle. When not at work, she’s busy pursuing kathak, reading books on and by women in the Middle East or making dresses out of Indian prints.


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