Home and Community Safety & Health Safety

Poison controls centers sound alarm over spike in kids’ exposure to household cleaners

Photo: Inna Dodor/iStockphoto

Arlington, VA — Exposures to household cleaning products among young children increased 10% over a recent four-month period compared with the same time frame a year ago, the American Association of Poison Control Centers is warning parents and caregivers.

According to a recent association safety alert, the increase in exposures among children younger than 5 occurred between March 1 and June 30 – during the COVID-19 pandemic – and were most common among 1-year-olds. That group accounted for 43.4% of the 35,380 total exposures.

The top exposure agents were liquid laundry detergent packets, bleaches, all-purpose cleaners, drain cleaning products and oven cleaners. One out of 6 exposures resulted in minor to moderate health effects, including nausea, vomiting, eye irritation and potential burns. Boys accounted for 56.6% of the recorded cases.

The most effective prevention efforts in the home – where 98% of the exposures occurred – include practicing safe use and storage habits, such as child safety locks on cabinets and storing products up high and out of sight of children.

“Household cleaners sometimes come in shiny, bright-colored packages that are intriguing to the adult eye,” AAPCC Chief Executive Officer Richard Fogelson said in the alert. “But to a naturally curious child, these packages resemble candy and toys.”

Parents and caregivers are encouraged to save the Poison Help Hotline number – (800) 222-1222 – in their smartphone and call immediately if a poisoning is suspected.

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