Several Ottawa parents are calling for a ban on a cleaning product after six children were burned last Friday morning going to a school washroom.

The Ottawa Carleton District School Board is re-training custodial staff how to use the product and working with the manufacturer on ways to prevent this from happening again.  Now parents of kids attending Avalon public school in the Orleans neighbourhood wants to know why cleaning products so strong are in schools in the first place.

“The issue is why are these chemicals in our schools, around our children,” says parent Kelli Catana, “If they can burn a child to second degree burns, they should not be in our school period.

Desks, taps and toilets are cleaned with this disinfectant, mixed automatically with water.  Ottawa public school Board officials found nothing wrong with the mix but after finding residue on the toilet seats, they concluded the toilets weren't properly wiped with warm water after the chemical was applied.  They are re-training custodial staff across the board.  But that does not appease parents of children who attend the school.  This is the second incident at Avalon; a 6 year old girl received severe blisters 3 months ago.

“I think there are other agents out there we could use safely” says parent Tracy Pilon.  “These are little children we're talking about.” 

Swish Maintenance Limited, the manufacturer of “Swish Clean & Green Disinfectant Concentrate” said it has a team of senior staff working with the School Board to investigate and resolve the issue as quickly as possible.  In a written statement, the company’s marketing manager Susan Ambler said: “Our deepest concern goes to the students and families of those affected. We take the health and safety of students very seriously. We recognize the importance to resolve this issue quickly and are investigating the source of the problem. The product in question is a registered product with Health Canada and has a DIN#.  We have a team of senior staff working with the Ottawa Carleton School Board to investigate and resolve the issue as quickly as possible.”   Swish said it had never encountered this problem with the product in the past.

University of Ottawa Chemistry Professor Louis Barriault says it's not the product but likely the residue left on the toilet seat if the chemical is left to dry.

“It's not dangerous itself,” says Barriault, “however if you clean it and don't dry it after that, there is still some solution on the toilet seat.  If you sit on the toilet and just the humidity of your skin, it dissolves this product, when it dissolves, it means it's highly concentrated which means it goes through your skin and attacks your skin cells and creates a burn.” 

The School Board says no other cases have materialized at Avalon or any other school.