Use of hand sanitizers and homemade cleaners for covid-19 apparently causes an increase in calls to poison-control centers

Increased use of hand sanitizers and homemade cleaners appears to have caused a spike in household poisonings in Kentucky and other states.

Last month, the Kentucky Poison Control Center of Norton Children’s Hospital in Louisville “saw a 30 percent increase in overall exposure calls related to disinfecting agents, including a 56% increase in poisonings from household cleaners and a 30% increase in poisonings from hand sanitizers,” Norton Healthcare said in a news release.
Nationwide, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says poison-control centers got more than 45,000 calls related to cleaners and disinfectants in the first three months of the year, “about a 20% increase,” Norton reports. “While the increase affected all age groups, children ages 5 and under were impacted the most. Complaints included shortness of breath, dizziness and vomiting.”
“The data shows many of the exposures are from consuming or inhaling these products,” said Maria Chapman, poison-prevention coordinator for the Poison Control Center. “We’ve had reports of young kids drinking hand sanitizer, as well as adults breathing in toxic fumes as they mix together combinations of cleaners.” She said parents and caregivers can protect children by:

  • Storing all household products out of a child’s sight and reach. Young kids often are at eye level with items under the kitchen and bathroom sinks.
  • Installing child safety locks on cabinets containing poisonous items.
  • Always following all instructions and warnings, and wearing eye protection.
  • Not mixing chemicals.
  • Not leaving poisonous products unattended while in use.
  • Never putting a potentially poisonous product in something other than its original container where it could be mistaken for something else.

The Poison Control Center’s free, confidential hotline is 800-222-1222. It is also Kentucky’s covid-19 hotline. “It’s important to protect against covid-19,” Chapman said, but also make sure in your race to prevent the virus, you’re not also putting yourself and your family in another dangerous situation.”

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