THE TT Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) has expressed concern about the potential dangers of a particular disinfectant being distributed for use in schools.
It’s president Antonia De Freitas has advised against the use of HDQ Neutral which, she said, has serious health implications for students and school workers if improperly used.
De Freitas said if the Ministry of Education intends to use the chemical in addition to a regular cleaning agent when staff and students return, then personal protective equipment must be provided for ancillary staff, along with instructions for use and proper storage.
She also recommended that copies of the safety data sheet be kept in the administrative office and other designated areas of easy access, in the event of inadvertent exposure.
Three months after schools were closed in March, owing to the covid19 pandemic, facilities are being prepared for students and teachers to return for Secondary Entrance Assessment, Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate, and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency examinations.
The exams will take place during July and August.
In a June 23 advisory to principals, TTUTA warned that HDQ Neutral is identified for industrial and institutional use only.
De Freitas said it is generally used either as a pesticide or as a cleaning agent in hospitals, given its broad spectrum of efficacy against a multitude of germs, bacteria and viruses.
She said the product has on its safety data sheet, information about the product’s acute toxicity. Under the globally harmonized system of classification and labelling of chemicals, it is listed as a category four item, for acute toxicity by oral intake, as well as intake through inhalation.
It is also listed as a category one item (being the most severe acute toxicity) in terms of skin corrosion/irritation and serious eye damage/eye irritation.
Use of protective gloves, eye/face protection and protective clothing has been strongly recommended during use.
“Effects directly linked to exposure, if used incorrectly, include nose bleeds, fainting, headaches, bleeding, eye damage, and skin rashes,” De Freitas said.
“The ministry could have consulted with the Ministries of Agriculture and Health and the Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) to develop specific guidelines on the proper way to use HDQ Neutral in schools.”
Calls to the Education Ministry went answered, and Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh did not respond to messages.