The use of hand sanitising gels and increased hand-washing practices throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on the environment and—by extension—public health.
In the first study of its kind, scientists underline that the environmental damage caused has been significant and more eco-friendly options are needed.
Among the headline findings are that the production and use of hand sanitising gels has contributed around 2% of our usual carbon footprint; and that, on average and depending on the sanitising gel or handwashing practice used, human health has been affected such that people may lose between 16 and 114 hours per year based on a comprehensive disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) impact analysis.
Hand hygiene is one of the most important means of avoiding or reducing pathogen transmission, which is why the World Health Organization (WHO) and NHS England recommend hand washing with soap and water or cleaning hands with alcohol sanitiser to provide some protection against COVID-19.
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