The head of a Kiltoom-based disinfectant supply company raised his serious concerns over alcohol-based hand sanitisers, which have been widely used in schools, in a letter to Minister for Education, Norma Foley, back in August.
Last Friday it emerged that ViraPro Hand Sanitiser, which was being used in schools nationwide, had been recalled on account of possible adverse health reactions such as dermatitis, eye irritation and upper respiratory irritation.
Ciaran Mannion of EC Disinfection, which is based in Corramore, Kiltoom, told the Roscommon People that he wanted to encourage the use of non-alcohol-based sanitisers in school settings.
He said: “I had contacted people in relation to this issue before but I decided to just sit down a write a letter to the Minister’s office to highlight it as a major concern.
“The emergency guidance from WHO (World Health Organisation) has led to many poor products and misinformation.
“Everyone seemed to have it in their heads that these products had to be alcohol-based, but that’s not the case”.
Mr. Mannion says he imports a non-alcohol-based product from the UK, which has proven just as effective in combatting coronavirus.
“I have supplied this product to some nursing homes free of charge and offered it to the HSE in Tullamore back in March but they turned it down because they were seeking alcohol-based products,” he said.
Mr. Mannion provided this newspaper with a copy of the letter he had sent to Minister Foley on August 24th of this year.
In the letter he raised concerns about hand sanitiser supply details, claiming that many of the products listed “state to keep out of reach of children” and can affect those with respiratory issues.
He added that “non-alcohol-based products have long contact times against enveloped viruses” and that this was not ideal in an education setting.
“…Enterprise Ireland and others have rushed other products to market with little attention to efficacy and safety issues for children. Pupils and staff lives are at risk.
“I have two sons who will be working hospital emergency rooms this winter, a daughter teaching P.E. to 700 boys and a son doing Leaving Certificate. I have selfish reasons too for being passionate about this,” he wrote.
Mr. Mannion added that there were “many excellent solutions” for schools that were currently outside the Department of Agriculture’s biocides list. He called on Minister Foley to obtain efficacy tests from independent labs and to make the results available to schools.
He has also called on institutions such as Beaumont Hospital to share their effective protocols for wider use.
The Kiltoom man confirmed that he had received an acknowledgement from the Minister’s office in late September, which stated that his concerns had been noted. He acknowledged the pressures faced by the Minister but questioned why he hadn’t been contacted by her office sooner.