Thursday, May 7th 2020, 11:41 am – Mass sanitization not only seems wasteful, but it could also be harmful to the environment.

The scene is truly bizarre. People covered head to toe in protective gear spraying a bleach solution across public spaces in an effort to eliminate COVID-19.

I remember the first time I saw these images. I was shocked and intrigued. Firstly, it looked like something out of a movie. But on second thought, I was curious, “does that really work?”.

It not only seems wasteful in my opinion, but I also imagine it could be harmful to the environment.

As my curiosity built, I reached out to some health experts to get their take on the situation.

Dr. Keith Warriner, who is a microbiologist at the University of Guelph, sat down with me for a video chat where he chuckled at the thought of this mass sanitization killing COVID-19.

“I think this does a good job in cleaning the streets, but killing COVID-19, no.” Dr. Warriner told me. “This virus is spread from person to person, there has been some surface transmission, but it’s not a large concern.”

He continued that the idea of a “mass cleaning” is more symbolic than anything.

“It’s not based on science, it’s based on people wanting to look like they are actually doing something,” he explained. “What people generally do is they fall back on what they think is right. To actually go outside and spray sanitizer sounds like a good idea because when we are at home and cleaning surfaces we spray surfaces. And this [mass cleaning] is the same thing, just on a grander scale.”

I thought his next point was particularly interesting and is something I have not read much about in the media when it comes to sanitization.

“In reality, spraying sanitizers in the streets is likely to lead to problems with irritating people’s eyes and potentially triggering asthma attacks in some,” cautioned Dr. Warriner.

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