News and Events

Preparing for Passover: Cautions for a Safe Holiday Cleaning

Publication Date: 4/4/2024 9:00 AM

In the days leading up to Passover, the use of cleaning products can be problematic. One of the most dangerous issues in this case is mixing and overuse of cleaning agents. Likewise, failure to follow the instructions for use can also be harmful.

Dr. Yael Luria. Photography: Rambam HCC.
Dr. Yael Luria. Photography: Rambam HCC.

As preparations commence for the upcoming Passover holiday, Dr. Yael Luria, director of the Israel Poison Information Center at Rambam Health Care Campus (Rambam) in Haifa, Israel, discusses the proper safety procedures when preparing for Passover. Dr. Luria warns, mixing different agents can cause a chemical reaction and release toxic fumes that users breathe in, leading to irritation of the respiratory system and eyes. For example, mixing bleach with acidic substances such as scale removers or toilet cleaners releases a toxic gas.

Protecting the skin and respiratory system

During Passover hospitals receive many patients suffering from skin damage due extended exposure to toxic cleaning solutions – without protective gloves. Injuries can also manifest in burns, hand irritations, and allergies.

Degreasers can also be problematic. If the cleaning agent is not properly or thoroughly removed from the oven, when it is subsequently heated, vapors are released that irritate the respiratory system and eyes.

Transferring materials between containers is a danger in itself. Many people buy large containers and transfer materials from container to container, which can lead to dangerous exposure to the contents, related vapors, and spillage. There are also situations in which cleaning materials, for whatever reason, have been stored in unmarked containers, leading to mistaken or improper use and increasing a person’s risk of exposure to unknown toxins.

Another problematic situation occurs when one uses industrial products not meant for home-use. Misusing these products puts the user and their family in danger. Luria explains, “We see very serious injuries due to these substances. Only household cleaning agents should be used and people need to read the instructions for use and warnings very carefully.”

Protecting Children

While overuse or improper use of cleaning products is harmful to anyone, children are most vulnerable. Luria shares, “Specifically during Passover, everything is accessible to children. They are already home on vacation and their parents are busy with cleaning chores. As a result, we see an increase in instances where children suffer injuries to their skin and eyes, or worse, when the substance is swallowed.”

Luria recommends that if parents want to include their children in the tasks of cleaning the house, that the children not use cleaning products at all. “They should only be allowed to use a rag and water, perhaps mild soap and nothing beyond that.”

Disposing of medications responsibly

“Another critical issue,” Luria notes, “is the safe disposal of medications.” For many, Passover is synonymous with Spring cleaning, and presents an opportunity to sort through and discard old medications; however, this must be done responsibly. At this time of year, doctors also note an increase in the number of children accidentally swallowing discarded medications. It is essential to ensure that medications are safely stored away. Furthermore, Luria advises that medications should not be disposed of in the trash since doing so carries environmental and health risks. Instead, medications should be collected safely, kept out of the reach of children, and handed over for proper destruction at a pharmacy.

Dr. Luria and the healthcare teams at Rambam Health Care Campus wish you all a safe, healthy, and joyous Passover celebration.

Based on an article published in Hebrew on Ynet.