Sodium hypochlorite solution sprayed on migrants

The spraying of sodium hypochlorite solution on migrant workers in Bareily in Uttar Pradesh, to control the spread of COVID-19, has sparked criticism.

Sodium Hypochlorite

Sodium hypochlorite is a commonly used bleaching agent that is used for cleaning and disinfection. It is noted for its use in swimming pools. It is used in certain hand-wash solutions (0.05%). It is used in very low concentrations (0.25% to 0.5%) in treating cuts and scrapes on skin. For household cleaning purpose, it is used in higher concentration (2 to 10%). Its disinfecting function is due to release of chlorine.

Effectiveness

The WHO and US CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) have both recommended its use in cleaning hard surfaces in time of the COVID-19 pandemic. A 2 to 10% solution of homemade bleach is effective in neutralizing the viruses on hard surfaces that are frequently touched by people. An added advantage is that the solution can also help in preventing usual flu, food-borne diseases and other illnesses.

In India

The chemical solution is being used to disinfect public places, buildings, vehicles and other solid surfaces in Gujarat, Delhi, Maharashtra and Punjab apart from Uttar Pradesh. A 1% solution is being used in many places.

Ill Effects

A 1% solution is not meant for use on humans as it can cause itching and burning sensation in the skin. If ingested, it can cause damage to the lung tissues. It can also cause redness and burning of eyes, stomach ache, coughing, diarrhoea, etc.

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