Environmental group asks Quiapo Church to quit use of disinfecting tent

Published June 7, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Chito Chavez

Quezon City-based environmental group EcoWaste Coalition on Sunday (June 7) reminded the Quiapo Church administration that spraying the Black Nazarene with chemical disinfectant can do more harm than good to the Catholic faithful.


With spraying disinfectant considered as “a practice that is not recommended by health scientists,’’ EcoWaste Coalition pleaded with church authorities to dismantle the disinfecting tent located at the main gate of the church.

“We fully appreciate the safety protocols being implemented by the church with the help of the Hijos del Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno to cut the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during worship activities,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

But Dizon insisted that the misting of disinfectant solution on churchgoers has to stop as it may pose a health risk to the public.

“Health scientists have clearly said that spraying the external part of the body does not kill the virus inside the body and may worsen the clinical condition of the individual infected with the coronavirus,” he added.

EcoWaste Coalition cited the guidance document published by the World Health Organization (WHO) that states “spraying individuals with disinfectants (such as in a tunnel, cabinet, or chamber) is not recommended under any circumstances.”

“This could be physically and psychologically harmful and would not reduce an infected person’s ability to spread the virus through droplets or contact, the WHO said.

WHO warned that “spraying individuals with chlorine and other toxic chemicals could result in eye and skin irritation, bronchospasm due to inhalation, and gastrointestinal effects such as nausea and vomiting.”

The Department of Health (DOH) also echoed the WHO’s advisory stressing “DOH does not recommend spraying or misting.”

Citing information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the DOH said that the use of misting tents for persons wearing regular clothes without personal protective equipment (PPE) may pose safety issues.

“Based on literature, commonly used chemical disinfectants such as hypochlorite are irritant to the skin and the mucous membrane (eyes, nose, and throat). It may also have adverse health effects when inhaled in an enclosed environment,” the DOH said.

“Pending additional studies on demonstrating safety and efficacy, the use of disinfection tents, misting chambers, or sanitation booths for individuals without full PPE shall not be allowed,” according to DOH Memorandum 2020-0157 issued on April 10, 2020.

In a related advisory issued on April 18, 2020, the Department of Interior and Local Government advised the local government units to prohibit the use of disinfection tents, misting chambers, or sanitation booths for individuals without PPE in reference to the DOH advisory.