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The original item was published from 4/2/2020 2:17:12 PM to 5/28/2020 12:52:40 PM.

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Emergency Incident Information

Posted on: April 2, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Health Director Urges Safe Use of Surface Disinfectants for Cleaning

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An increase in the number of disinfectant-related calls to the Pitt County Health Department COVID-19 Hotline has prompted Pitt County’s Health Director, Dr. John L. Silvernail to issue a safety warning regarding improper use of these products. Hotline staff has reported recent calls from residents concerning their exposure to overuse of such products causing shortness of breath, coughing, nausea, and other symptoms. “Using more than the recommended amount of any disinfectant is discouraged and will not make the product work better or faster. Improper use of disinfectants can be dangerous, leading to irritation of and damage to the skin, eyes, throat and lungs,” warns Dr. Silvernail.

Individuals and business owners should follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for cleaning surfaces to ensure both family and employee safety. Hard (non-porous) surfaces, that are visibly dirty, should be cleaned with a detergent or soap and water and then disinfected with an EPA-approved product. A list of EPA-approved disinfectants for the use against COVID-19 can be found at: Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use of any disinfectant. Bleach solutions are recommended to sanitize hard, non-porous surfaces. To make your own bleach disinfecting solution, mix 5 tablespoons of bleach to a gallon of water.

  • Key surfaces to disinfect include heavily used surfaces such as doorknobs, counters, tabletops, bathroom fixtures, remote controls, keyboards, phones, tablets, steering wheels and bedside tables. 
  • To disinfect soft (porous) surfaces, remove visible soiling if present, using appropriate cleansers for the surface. If the item can be laundered, follow the manufacturer’s instructions using the warmest waters setting for the item and dry completely. Do not shake dirty laundry in order to minimize the possibility of dispersing the virus through the air. Hampers or carts, used to store or transport dirty laundry, should be disinfected using the guidance above for hard or soft surfaces.
  • When disinfecting electronics, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning. Consider using wipeable covers. Use alcohol-based wipes or sprays containing at least 70% alcohol to disinfect touch screens if no manufacturer instructions are available.

All information regarding Pitt County’s response efforts during the COVID-19 outbreak are available on the Coronavirus Information Page of the Pitt County Website, at:

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