EcoWaste Coalition Raises the Alarm over Mispackaged Alcohol and Bleach Products


The toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition today warned the public about the risk of poisoning from the unintentional ingestion of alcohol and bleach products packaged in containers that are often used for drinking purposes. 

The group raised the alarm after purchasing alcohol and bleach products in clear polyethylene terephthalate (PET) containers, which are popular for packaging drinking water. The group bought the products from a home improvement supplies retailer and two "sabon" stations.

Because of their water-like appearance, rubbing alcohol, bleach and disinfectant bleach solution can be mistaken for drinking water, especially by an unsupervised child who wants to quench her/his thirst.  A child is easily misled into drinking alcohol or bleach if it is packaged in a container commonly used for drinking water,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

With the increased demand for alcohol and bleach products amid the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for disinfection, the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized the need to use them responsibly to avoid getting poisoned. 

Not a few people, children as well as adults, have been poisoned due to the ingestion of rubbing alcohol or bleach,” Dizon said, citing the 2020 data from the UP-PGH National Poison Management Control Center (NPMCC).

According to the NPMCC, isopropyl/ethyl alcohol ranked #1 among the top ten agents for pediatric poisoning cases (9.03% of 2,425 cases) last year, followed by sodium hypochlorite, an active ingredient of bleach (7.18%). For adult poisoning cases, sodium hypochlorite ranked #1 (10.05% of 2,726 cases) while isopropyl/ethyl alcohol was 7th (3.26%).

To prevent poisoning, the EcoWaste Coalition urged manufacturers of rubbing alcohol and bleach products to strictly use proper containers and to conspicuously label their products. 

“Products that are not compliant to packaging and labeling requirements should be immediately recalled or withdrawn from the market in the interest of public safety,” said Dizon. 

The group also advised the public to observe the following safety tips to prevent poisoning incidents:
  • Carefully read the product label and follow the instructions for safe use and storage.
  • Do not mix bleach with acids and other cleaning products, especially those containing ammonia, to avoid creating toxic and potentially deadly gases.
  • Always use alcohol and bleach in a well-ventilated area; alcohol should be kept away from open flame as it is combustible.
  • Keep alcohol and bleach products in their original containers; do not decant or transfer the liquid into other containers. 
  • Store alcohol and bleach out of reach of children, as well as pets.
Whenever there is a question of poison exposure, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the public to contact a medical doctor or call the NPMCC hotline numbers for advice: 8567-2057, 8554-8400 local 3976 or 0966-7289904.