Charleston, WV -- West Virginia health officials are urging people to avoid chemical burns and other injuries from products used while cleaning up from the floods that deluged 22 counties in recent weeks.
"We're seeing people with skin burns from contact with cleaning supplies - primarily lime and bleach," said Henry Taylor, MD, MPH, commissioner of the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health. " We urge people engaged in clean up to use extreme caution when handling caustic materials."
Taylor and Elizabeth Scharman, PharmD, director of the WV Poison Center offer the following advice on safe use of lime, bleach, and other cleaning supplies during flood clean up.
When using lime, wear gloves and long pants while applying. Always wash hands and other exposed skin thoroughly when done. Be certain to rake or mix lime into the soil very well, concentrated lime left on top of soil can result in burns to any one coming in contact with it. Lime should be used sparingly and with caution anytime pets or small children will be in the area. Never mix lime with any other cleaning product or chemical, toxic and potentially deadly fumes can result.
Bleach may also cause injuries and illness. Bleach, like all cleaning supplies, should never be mixed with any other chemical or cleaning product. Again, this can result in toxic or even deadly fumes. Always keep bleach in its original container to avoid poisoning. Work or rubber gloves can protect your skin but avoid getting bleach inside the gloves. Heat and enclosed chemicals can cause severe skin irritation or burns. Tucking glove openings into long sleeves can help prevent this. Wash hands or other exposed areas well after using bleach solutions.
To avoid chemical burns, wash any area that comes in contact with caustic cleaning agents thoroughly with water. For spills or splashes around the eyes, flush the eyes with water and call the West Virginia Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222. For ingestions, give the person a small amount of fluids to drink and then call the West Virginia Poison Center.
For further information, contact the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health at 304-558-2971 or the West Virginia Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.