Disinfectant use in schools
Disinfectants are pesticides used to destroy microorganisms, particularly on surfaces. The current emphasis on disinfection is motivated by a desire to protect our health in the face of COVID-19. However, disinfectants may pose a health threat of their own.
Disinfectant use is common in schools. Schools have received increased attention as potential sites of disease transmission during this pandemic, and accordingly administrations have allocated resources towards disinfection to prevent new outbreaks. More attention must be placed on the health hazards these disinfectants present.
There are some well-accepted guidelines for the appropriate use of disinfectants. These guidelines are important given the increased use of disinfectants in schools during this pandemic.
Before applying disinfectants, it is important to establish a plan.
● Include all stakeholders in your planning process – workers applying disinfectants should be at the forefront.
● School administrations are required to train workers on use precautions and use according to label directions.
● Identify what needs to be disinfected. In some cases, soap and water may be adequate.
● Identify recommended disinfectants for your specific use using established resources such as the EPA’s Safer Choice list for cleaning products or the EPA’s Design for the Environment list for disinfectants.
Certain practices can make the application of disinfectants safer and more effective
● Cleaning must be done prior to disinfection in order for disinfection to be effective.
● Disinfectants must be used according to the label directions with the specified gloves and personal protective equipment (PPE).
● Ventilate areas being disinfected.
● Children should not be present during the disinfection process, nor should they be using any disinfectants, including disinfectant wipes.
● Disinfectants should be directly applied to surfaces, not sprayed/airborne.
● Avoid fragranced products.
We recommend using low-hazard disinfectants judiciously with appropriate planning, in order to prevent coronavirus spread while mitigating the potential harms of disinfectant use.