OHIO – John O’Grady is a County Commissioner serving Franklin County, Ohio, he released an opinion piece to us about regulations on wellness products
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us a lot about ourselves. It was impossible to be truly prepared for a global public health crisis of this scale but Americans, and specifically Ohioans, have a lot to be proud of. Faced with an unprecedented global health crisis, we Buckeyes rolled up our sleeves and offered support however we were able – volunteering, checking in on vulnerable friends and family, supporting struggling businesses, and prioritizing sound personal hygiene practices to help slow the spread of COVID.
While we all are excited to get back out into the world and make up for lost time, the fight is not over. As we come out of this part of the pandemic, we must remember the lessons we have learned and what tools helped get us through the year.
In 2020, we refocused on smart hygiene practices like surface cleaning, hand washing and sanitizing, and practicing social distancing when necessary. There were bumps along the way in learning these lessons, and we saw the federal government and regulatory agencies reacting quickly to changing consumer and business needs. This ultimately led to the FDA releasing an emergency, temporary guidance to make sure people got the products they needed as quickly as possible, including alcohol-based hand sanitizers, sterilizers, disinfectant devices, and air purifiers.
Now is the time for the federal government to reexamine this emergency guidance and ensure that only safe, high-quality products are on store shelves. I am confident that Ohio leaders will pave the way in making this happen.
At the beginning of the pandemic, health and wellness manufacturers like Ohio-based Proctor & Gamble, the makers of Clorox, and GOJO Industries, the makers of Purell, were struggling to increase production quickly enough to meet the skyrocketing demand. This led to a short gap in supply that resulted in lower standards and thus lower quality products from other manufacturers on store shelves. In the past year we’ve seen reports of hand sanitizer products with toxic ingredients like methanol, and there was a huge spike in falsely advertised cleaning products that “offered a false sense of protection,” according to the EPA.
In March 2020, the decision to lower quality check standards was crucial in getting people the protective tools they needed, but now the emergency is over. Companies, including our Ohio neighbors, are well prepared to take on consumer demand, and their products are back on the shelves and in consumer’s hands. With Clorox making 1.5 million canisters of disinfecting wipes per day and reports of plentiful Purell hand sanitizers in stores and online consumers have access to the quality cleaning products they need and these Ohio companies have shown they are now prepared for whatever comes next.
As we pull ourselves back up and pave the road ahead for the country, I encourage Ohio representatives and senators to continue ensuring Americans are safe and healthy, including by working with regulatory agencies to put a stop to the production of unsafe and low-quality cleaning products.
John O’Grady is a County Commissioner serving Franklin County, Ohio