'Gasoline is not disinfectant,' chemists say after Duterte remark

'Gasoline is not disinfectant,' chemists say after Duterte remark
President Rodrigo Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on July 30, 2020.
Presidential Photo / Simeon Celi, Jr.

MANILA, Philippines — Don’t use gasoline as a disinfectant.

This is the stern warning of Filipino chemists to public after President Rodrigo Duterte once again told people in a televised speech that gasoline can be used as a disinfectant.

“Gasoline must not be used as a disinfectant,” the Integrated Chemists of the Philippines said in a Facebook post, adding this can be harmful to humans when inhaled.

The advisory came a few hours after Duterte said Filipinos can use “gaas” (kerosene) as a disinfectant if alcohol is not available.

“Totoo ‘yang sinabi ko [sa] alcohol. Pag walang alcohol [na] available, hindi ka naman puwede lalo na kung mahirap. Magpunta ka na lang diyan sa gasoline station, pagkatapos magpatulo ng—that’s disinfectant,” the president, who is a lawyer by profession, said.  

(What I said about alcohol is true. If there is no available alcohol, especially if you’re poor, go to gasoline station and get some. That’s disinfectant.)

There is no evidence that gasoline can disinfect face masks or kill the virus that causes coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that repeated or prolonged skin contact with liquid gasoline can degrease the skin, causing irritation and dermatitis.

First- and second-degree skin burns can also occur from continuous contact with liquid gasoline for several hours, the US CDC added

‘I’m not joking’

In previous public address, Duterte had said that reusable face masks could be disinfected with gasoline or diesel. This prompted presidential spokesperson Harry Roque to say that the chief executive was only joking. Even Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the gasoline remark may have been one of his jokes.

But on Friday, Duterte said he was not joking.

“Hindi ako nagbibiro. Totohanan iyon. Ang akala ninyo nagbibiro lang ako,” he said.

(I’m not joking. That is true. You only think I am joking.) — Gaea Katreena Cabico


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