Calls to poison control centers surge as Ohioans use more cleaning products


The calls are not just limited to kids getting into chemicals, adults are also misusing them

(WKBN) – Some attempts to prevent getting COVID-19 could actually be making you sick.

People are using cleaning products and disinfectants now more than ever, but not always in the safest way.

Ohio’s Poison Control Hotline is seeing a dramatic increase in the number of people calling with complaints about cleaning supplies. But it’s not just limited to kids getting into these chemicals, adults are also misusing them.

This alarming trend has been developing as people fight the coronavirus.

“It’s across the board. I’d say probably the big things are the misuse, mixing chemicals — two chemicals like bleaches and acids or bleaches and ammonia together creating toxic gases — improper storage,” said Alexandra Funk, director of the Central Ohio Poison Center.

Household cleaners and disinfectants can be rare finds at the grocery store nowadays. As a result, poison control centers have seen a spike in people attempting to mix at-home chemicals to make their own.

“Just to put it into perspective, in January and February our numbers were about the same from 2019, but in March and April we jumped up 90%,” Funk said.

Funk describes the doubling of the Poison Center’s call volume as a perfect storm. More chemicals in home to ward off the virus or parents working from home while also trying to entertain curious kids.

“Especially in that young toddler age range, they are very curious and do a lot of the hand-to-mouth behaviors,” Funk said.

Kids are also more than willing to mimic their parents while they’re cleaning and using hand sanitizer. This creates good habits but could be a problem all its own if you don’t explain how dangerous these things are or lock them away properly.

“The biggest thing is to be smart and be safe,” Funk said.

You can do this by keeping products in their original containers and never mixing them.

But if there is a risk of exposure or even an accidental ingestion…

“Definitely give us a call at the Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222. We have nurses and pharmacists that staff our phone lines 24/7, around the clock,” Funk said.

Funk also said something that’s reassuring to her and her colleagues around the state is that they have gotten no reports of people trying to inject these chemicals.

Again, as a reminder from the CDC and all other health officials, cleaning products are absolutely not meant to be ingested or injected for any reason.

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