Health and Safety

Quiapo Church Urged to Stop Misting Black Nazarene Devotees with Chemical Disinfectant

The environmental health group EcoWaste Coalition urged the administration of Quiapo Church not to spray or mist Black Nazarene devotees with chemical disinfectant, a practice that is not recommended by health scientists.

The group specifically urged the church authorities to dismantle the disinfecting tent located at the main gate as its continued use may do more harm than good.

Disinfectant booths located at Quiapo Church/EcoWaste Coalition

“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 the misting of disinfectant solution on churchgoers has to stop at it may be more harmful than helpful,” he said.

“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.

The group cited the guidance document published by the World Health Organization (WHO) stating that “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 has echoed the WHO’s advisory stressing “DOH does not recommend spraying or misting.”

Citing information from the US 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 (DILG) advised local government units (LGUs) to prohibit the use of disinfection tents, misting chambers or sanitation booths for individuals without PPE in reference to the said DOH advisory.