Injecting a disinfectant like bleach into your lungs—is it: A. a cool quarantine activity to test out? Or B. a poisonous idea that will lead to hospitalization and perhaps death?
Doctors, scientists, disinfectant companies, and every person with lungs (except the President of the United States) agrees. The answer is B.
During a briefing on Thursday, President Trump wondered out loud if sunlight, and disinfectants like bleach, could potentially “clean out” coronavirus if they could get “inside” the body.
After a science official at the Department of Homeland Security said at the briefing that the agency has studied how sunlight and household disinfectants can kill coronavirus on surfaces in under a minute, Trump took the podium and said, “I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute—one minute—and is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.”
When I was an impressionable teen and I tried to convince my parents to let me do things with my friends like wear a three-tiered ruffled mini skirt to an Akon concert or drink caffeine (I had very strict parents), they would say, “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump off a bridge?”
And now I must say to you, “If the President injected bleach into his lungs, would you inject bleach into your lungs?” If the answer is “Maybe!” I must urge you to reconsider. Try reading a chapter book, or watching the VHS of Miss Congeniality instead! (That is what my parents would have recommended to me.)
Of course, the President is free to speak about whatever he wants, but his words have serious weight for millions of Americans who might actually try out his dangerous idea.
Here are a few of the groups and people who have had to put out statements since the briefing, warning people not to swallow or inject disinfectants:
The CDC The center tweeted, “Household cleaners and disinfectants can cause health problems when not used properly. Follow the instructions on the product label to ensure safe and effective use.”
Toxicologists “As a toxicologist, I see people all the time who have had an adverse effect of consuming these kinds of products,” Dr. Ryan Marino told CNBC. “These should not be consumed in any way.” Marino said he has seen patients die after consuming disinfectants.
Pulmonologists “Any amount of bleach or isopropyl alcohol or any kind of common household cleaner is inappropriate for ingestion even in small amounts. Small amounts are deadly,” Dr. Vin Gupta told NBC.
People who worked for the FDA Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CNBC there is no “kernel of credibility or truth to doing something like ingesting bleach or injecting bleach as a treatment for anything.”
The literal makers of Lysol “We must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route,” the company said in a statement.
On Friday, Trump told White House reporters that his comment about disinfectant wasn’t serious. “I was asking the question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen,” he said, when probed, kind of like when you ask your crush “sarcastically” if they will go out with you, or when you work up the courage to invite a casual acquaintance to coffee and they say, “Uh, maybe when things get less busy with work,” but actually you were just being sarcastic.
Quarantine has offered us an array of delicious and easy-to-assemble drinks other than stemless wine glasses full of bleach: dalgona coffee, DIY-Starbucks drinks, White Claw slushies, and wine. You can inject yourself full of prestige television, reality drama, the euphoria of puzzle making, or—and this is by no means a recommendation—stick-and-poke tattoo.
The President missed the mark on this one, but we can always depend on a steady hand from our international leadership: the corporation that makes Lysol.
Jenny Singer is a staff writer for Glamour. You can follow her on Twitter.