Are UAE’s Disinfectants Toxic?

The disinfectants that arrived in Bulgaria from the United Arab Emirates, UAE, along with the infamous dates from the “barter” orchestrated by controversial lawmaker and media mogul Delyan Peevski and the Ministry of Agriculture can prove to be highly toxic and dangerous to human health. The shipment arrived on April 13, 2020, on two planes of the national carrier Bulgaria Air. Bulgarian Economy Minister Emil Karanikolov traveled with the shipments to and from Abu Dhabi, while the deal was advertised by mainstream media as a huge achievement of the government and great “humanitarian aid”. Bivol, however, revealed that against 32 metric tons of high-quality food products, sent by Bulgaria, mainly meat and dairy, the country had received back 12 tons of dates and the symbolic nearly three tons of medical supplies such as disinfectants, masks, and gloves. The scandal over the unfavorable for Bulgaria barter became known as #DateGate. /See here/

Humanitarian aid or dangerous toxins?

As we kept following the subject, we learned that large batches of the same brand of sanitizers as the ones donated by Arab companies have been recalled from stores and banned in the country after UAE’s authorities have declared them dangerous for human health and even toxic.

In early April 2020, leading news media in the UAE, including Al Arabia TV, reported that several hand sanitizer brands had been investigated and withdrawn from the market by the health authorities over the presence of methanol. There is also an official announcement on the website of the Health Inspectorate of the Dubai Municipality. Methanol has been found in six products, including LULU Hand Sanitizer – 500ml and LULU Hand Sanitizer – 250ML, exactly the same disinfectants that arrived from the UAE on April 13, 2020, with the shipment of dates and masks, and the personal company of the Minister of Economy, Bivol found.

According to the Dubai Municipality, methanol is “is highly toxic and hazardous to human health, and affects the nervous system, causes dizziness, headache, irritation of the skin and respiratory system, and causes blindness in severe poisoning cases.”

Reporters of bTV and Bivol took pictures of the 250-ml and 500-ml bottles with disinfectant at the Bulgarian Red Cross warehouse in the village of Dolni Lozen near the capital Sofia, where they were delivered with firefighter trucks. They are at the disposal of the National Logistic Coordination Center, which was created on March 15, 2020, to “support efforts to obtain, order, distribute and prioritize” protective gear such as masks, gloves, and clothing.

Supermarket sanitizer

The labels of the shipped by the UAE bottles with hand sanitizer display the LuLu brand. LuLu is an Indian-owned company that operates a chain of hypermarkets. It markets a number of products under the LuLu brand. The LuLu hand sanitizer in question has been manufactured by the Dubai-based company Ziva West Wipes. A check of LuLu’s online store showed that this product is no longer sold there.

The date on one of the 250-ml bottles shows that the sanitizer has been manufactured in March 2020, before the ban in Dubai.

This means that the health authorities in Bulgaria should check all bottles with sanitizer obtained through the barter.

Fifteen tons of medical supplies become 500 kilograms

“Two companies, Gradus and Intrust, have concluded a very serious deal with the United Arab Emirates. It concerns the exchange of 32 tons of food with the UAE against which we received 15 tons of medical supplies. The companies funded the transport and the State paid nothing. This is a great help because the shipment consists of protective gear such as masks, gloves, and clothing,” said General Mutafchiyski, the head of the national coronavirus taskforce at its regularly scheduled press briefing on April 14, 2020, at the Council of Ministers.

On April 15, 2020, Bivol revealed that of the 15 tons of “medical supplies” that arrived on a special flight from Abu Dhabi, only three tons were actually supplies, and the rest were dates.

In addition, sanitizers sold in supermarkets are not “medical supplies”. Disinfection products used in hospitals must be certified and approved for medical use. This is definitely not the case with the LuLu sanitizer.

A few days ago, the Red Cross reported that it had received 3,970 0.5-liter bottles with LuLu disinfectant and 1,824 250-milliliter bottles with Lulu disinfectant. It is easy to calculate that this is about 2.5 tons of gross weight. If we add the 12 tons of dates, the 15 tons of “medical supplies” become 500 kilograms, or the real weight of the 80,000 masks, 49,000 gloves, 32,000 protective footwear received.

In a comment for bTV on April 24, 2020, Economy Minister Emil Karanikolov officially confirmed what he previously had told Bivol, that the dates would be distributed to the poor. He urged not to count the dates but focus on the improving trade relations with the Emirates.

However, a government commission with representatives of the Customs Agency, the Red Cross, and the Ministry of Health did count all dates, masks, disinfectants, and footwear on April 23, 2020, and the results expected early next week.

The Customs Agency has not yet answered Bivol’s questions asked on April 13, 2020, regarding the quantities and types of food exported to Abu Dhabi and the quantities and types of medical supplies, disinfectants, and dates imported from there.

A Bivol reporter formally asked to obtain a sample of the suspicious disinfectants, just one bottle, to conduct an independent journalistic examination of the content and to find out if it is safe for human health. The request was denied by the Red Cross on grounds the shipment was the property of the Ministry of Economy and that special written permission must be obtained from the donor because that had been their will.


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