Calls to poison centers are up by about 20 percent since the beginning of the year for exposure to bleach and other disinfectants being used around homes to keep surfaces clean, correlating with the rise of coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Poison centers got 45,550 calls about exposure to cleaning chemicals, up from 37,822 the year before, reports Agence France-Press. The calls went up quickly in March, at about the time states starting issuing lockdown orders, with the largest percentage being reported about children under the age of five.
The main complaints concerned inhalation and exposure to bleaches, hand sanitizers, and non-alcoholic disinfectants were the items with the largest percentage increase.
The CDC shared examples, including a woman who filled her sink with a mixture of 10 percent bleach, hot water, and vinegar to soak produce, and soon started coughing and wheezing, requiring a trip to a local emergency room.
In another case, a preschool child was found to be unresponsive after drinking an unknown amount of hand sanitizer. It turned out her blood alcohol level was 273 milligrams per deciliter, or more than three times higher than the legal drinking age for driver in most states.
“The timing of these reported exposures corresponded to increased media coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, reports of consumer shortages of cleaning and disinfection products, and the beginning of some local and state stay-at-home orders,” said the CDC.
The agency recommended always reading and heeding instructions, only using water at room temperatures to dilute concentrated cleaners, and to avoid mixing chemicals. People should also wear eye and skin protection, keep areas ventilated, and keep chemicals out of the reach of children.