Kids mistaking torch oil for apple juice; poisonings up, hospital warns

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Columbus, OH – Nationwide Children’s Hospital is warning parents about children 5 and younger ingesting lamp oil – which can resemble apple juice – after seeing an 80 percent spike in the number of cases reported so far this summer over last year.

From May through mid-July, the Central Ohio Poison Center has fielded 18 calls regarding children’s exposure to lamp oil, an increase from the 10 reported cases during the same time span in 2015, the hospital stated in a press release.

Lamp oil, commonly used in backyard tiki torches, contains harmful organic compounds called hydrocarbons. When ingested, hydrocarbons can cause pneumonia and respiratory failure that leads to the need for a ventilator, among other health issues, the release states.

“Lamp oil found in backyard tiki torches looks like apple juice to kids, making it seem safe and kid-friendly,” Dr. Marcel Casavant, chief of toxicology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and medical director of the Central Ohio Poison Center, said in a press release. “Children are naturally curious, and they are drawn to bright colors and pretty packaging, which brings them into contact with poisonous substances.”

Other items that contain hydrocarbons, including furniture oil, waterproofing products and gasoline additives, should be stored in their original containers and kept out of reach of children or in a locked cabinet, the hospital advises.

If a child has ingested lamp oil or other products containing hydrocarbons, call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at (800) 222-1222.

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