In his latest speech delivered yesterday but publicly aired today, President Rodrigo Duterte urged Filipinos to wear a face mask to help in our fight against the coronavirus. That’s good. In a time when the leader of the most powerful nation in the world—yes, still the United States (whether you agree or not)—consistently displays his aversion to masks, it’s nice to hear our country’s highest official unequivocally endorsing their use.
There’s just one little problem: President Duterte also suggested disinfecting masks (and even hands) with gasoline or diesel in case Lysol or alcohol is not available. Here is the sound bite:
Now, how sound is this piece of advice? Let’s see what the United States’ Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has to say about this:
Chronic, excessive exposure such as occurs in intentional gasoline abuse (sniffing) can cause irritability, tremor, nausea, insomnia, loss of memory, drowsiness, mental dullness, confusion, seizures, muscle spasms, altered vision, hallucinations, impaired gait, inflammation of the optic nerve, dizziness, and involuntary eye movements.
According to the agency, it is also possible that gasoline is carcinogenic, which means it may cause cancer in humans. Read petrol’s other harmful effects here.
To be fair, the President did say that one should not wear the mask immediately after disinfecting it, but can gasoline or diesel even disinfect in the first place? Well, we have not come across any sanitation expert recommending their use for this very purpose.
So there. Do what you have to do in order to keep yourself and your loved ones safe from the virus, but please be guided by facts is all we’re saying.