FALSE: Gasoline, diesel can disinfect masks – Duterte

Claim:

Gasoline or diesel can be used to disinfect surfaces and hands to kill the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.

President Rodrigo Duterte advised the public in a speech aired on Tuesday, July 21, to reuse face masks by disinfecting them with alcohol or Lysol.

"Ngayon, kung wala kayo, I will try to buy as many as I can afford, kung kaya ko," he said. "Bigay namin sa inyo 'yan libre but wear it, maski na gamitin mo 'yan dalawang beses, okay lang. Spray-han mo lang ng alcohol pagkatapos. Huwag 'yung i-spray mo tapos isuot mo kaagad. Pagkatapos ng araw, hang it somewhere and spray-han mo ng Lysol if you can afford it."

(Now, if you don't have any, I will try to buy as many as I can afford, if I can. We'll give that to you for free but wear it, even if you have to use it twice, it's okay. Spray it with alcohol after. Don't spray it and then wear it right away. At the end of the day hang it somewhere and spray it with Lysol if you can afford it.)

He then said: "'Yung wala, ibabad mo sa gasolina o diesel. Putanginang COVID na 'yan, 'di uubra 'yan diyan. Totoo, if you want disinfection, maghanap ka ng gasolina. Babad mo 'yung kamay mo. Layo mo lang, huwag sa loob ng bahay 'nyo."

(If you don't have those, soak it in gasoline or diesel. That son of a bitch COVID won't be able to fight that. It's true, if you want disinfection, look for gasoline. Soak your hands. Just do it far away, don't do it inside your house.)

Duterte made a similar claim in an April 16 speech.

Rating: FALSE
The facts:

There is no proof that gasoline or diesel can disinfect surfaces, skin, or even masks. Inhaling and having prolonged contact with gasoline can be harmful to one's health.

The US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) list of disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2 on surfaces does not include gasoline or diesel. Their list includes disinfectants that fulfill the following criteria:

  • demonstrate efficacy against SARS-CoV-2
  • demonstrate efficacy against a virus that is harder to kill than SARS-CoV-2
  • demonstrate efficacy against another type of human coronavirus similar to SARS-CoV-2

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also includes medical guidelines for gasoline exposure in their database of toxic substances.

According to the CDC, gasoline may cause asphyxiation when inhaled in enclosed, poorly ventilated, or low-lying areas.

When it comes to contact with skin, the CDC says: "Repeated or prolonged skin contact with liquid gasoline can degrease the skin, causing irritation and dermatitis. First- and second-degree skin burns can occur from continuous contact with liquid gasoline for several hours."

In April, US President Donald Trump made a claim related to Duterte's, suggesting that people inject disinfectant to treat COVID-19. However, doctors dismissed this suggestion.

"This notion of injecting or ingesting any type of cleansing product into the body is irresponsible, and it's dangerous," Vin Gupta, pulmonologist and global health expert, told NBC News. "It's a common method that people utilize when they want to kill themselves."

The World Health Organization recommends practicing hand and respiratory hygiene at all times as the best way to prevent a COVID-19 infection. They do not recommend reusing medical masks. – Vernise Tantuco/Rappler.com