SHREWSBURY — Chief James Vuona and the Shrewsbury Fire Department wish to share cleaning and chemical safety tips with residents in light of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
State and federal health officials have advised members of the public to regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched items and spaces in an effort to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Frequently touched surfaces and items include iPhones, computers, door knobs, cabinet handles and faucet knobs.
“It’s important that residents keep cleaning high touch surfaces regularly, but it’s also critical that they are aware and conscious while cleaning of the chemicals they are using and the necessary steps to protect themselves and their households from potentially harmful side effects, gases and so on,” Chief Vuona said.
Shrewsbury Fire’s Hazardous Materials Technician Capt. Aaron Roy is offering residents the following guidance and information to help residents stay safe while cleaning:
- Always read the label of a household or institutional cleaning product before using it.
- Never mix bleach with ammonia or acids. Bleach may also react with oven cleaners, hydrogen peroxide and insecticides.
- An active ingredient in chlorine bleach, sodium hypochlorite, is also found in some disinfectants and reacts with ammonia, drain cleaners and acids.
- When chlorine is absorbed through the skin, it can cause pain, inflammation, swelling and blistering.
- Ammonia and acids are found in cleaning products, and can also be found in glass and window cleaners, interior and exterior paints and urine.
- Acids may be also found in: vinegar, glass and window cleaners, automatic dishwasher detergents and rinses, toilet bowl cleaners, drain cleaners, lime/calcium/rust removal products, and brick and concrete cleaners.
- Never use two drain cleaners together, or within a short period of time.
- Toxic gases called chloramines are created when bleach and ammonia are mixed. Exposure to these gases can result in coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, wheezing, nausea, watery eyes, irritation of the throat/nose/eyes, pneumonia and fluid in the lungs.
- Mixing bleach and acid creates chlorine gas, which combines with water to create hydrochloric and hypochlorous acids. Exposure to chlorine gas can irritate the eyes/throat/nose, cause coughing and respiratory problems, cause burning and watery eyes and a runny nose. Significant exposure can cause chest pain, severe breathing issues, vomiting, pneumonia and fluid in the lungs. Very high exposure can be fatal.
Residents with questions or concerns are encouraged to contact the Shrewsbury Fire Department at 508-841-8522.