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Unregulated sale of sanitisers, masks increases health hazards

Unregulated sale of sanitisers, masks increases health hazards
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Kolkata: Blame it on the centre's decision to keep masks and sanitisers out of the list of essential commodities, the unregulated sale of these items are posing risks to people's health. When it comes to masks and sanitisers sold in local markets, there is neither any standardisation nor quality check.

The apathy of the BJP-led government at the Centre towards the issue has led to health hazards as the quality of most sanitisers are not determined. Instead of being listed as an essential commodity, sanitisers are being treated as a cosmetic item. A top source in the health department said, people in suburbs are complaining about infections of their hands due to the use of improper sanitisers.

Not just that, these items— which are mostly prepared locally and most important guards against Coronavirus—are being sold at exorbitant prices.

"The Centre has excluded masks and sanitisers from the list of The Essential Commodities Act 1955. Health is always under the Centre's list. But there is no standardisation or regulation by the Centre to check the price of the sanitisers and masks and to maintain their quality. Hence, a free run has been given to the manufacturers and retailers," said Joydeep Sarkar, General Secretary of All India Chemists and Distributors Federation.

Earlier, the Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had raised the issue during her meeting with the Prime Minister. No steps have been taken by the Centre in this regard yet.

According to sources, officials at different levels had verbally urged people to use aqua-based sanitisers instead of gel. People were also encouraged to avoid coloured sanitisers. There has been a rampant use of coloured sanitisers. The chemicals, which are used in the preparation of the coloured sanitisers, dilute the alcohol content and reduces its effectiveness.

"Now, sprayers are sold in the market. Who will confirm the efficacy of the sprayers? Use of 70 per cent alcohol as recommended by the WHO has become a myth now. Some of the manufacturers are claiming that their sanitisers have around 75 per cent alcohol. If the 5 per cent alcohol gets diluted, the product

would not meet the standardisation criteria. In case of gel-based sanitisers, the alcohol level is getting reduced," Sarkar claimed.

It has also been alleged that there is no uniformity in the rate of sanitisers and masks, which are sold in the market.

People are making masks at the local level and labelling the same as N95 or KN95. Experts opine that it is a grossly unethical practice.

"They have no right to use the brand name of an international product without undergoing a quality check. These masks are approximately made at a cost of Rs 12-14. But, these are being sold at a rate of anything between Rs 50-150," said Sarkar.

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