From January to March, poisons centers reported a 20 percent increase in calls compared to the same time in 2019. The breakdown included 28,158 calls related to cleaners and 17,392 reports linked to disinfectants, said the CDC using data from the National Poison Data System.
The data couldn’t confirm “a definite link” between exposures and COVID-19 cleaning efforts.
“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 order,” the report said.
In March “the daily number of calls to poison centers increased sharply” for both cleaner and disinfectant exposures.
Exposure among children under the age of five “consistently represented” a large percentage of total calls.
In one case for example, a preschool aged child became dizzy, then hit her head on the floor after she ingested an unknown amount of hand sanitizer. She was taken to the hospital and had a high blood alcohol level, three times the legal limit of driving.
The child was in the pediatric intensive care unit for two days and was released.
A second case involved a woman who soaked her produce by filling her sink with bleach, vinegar, and water after hearing on the news she should clean her groceries before eating them. The combination created toxic gas chlorine, and she started to cough and had trouble breathing.
The woman called 911 and was taken to the emergency room where she received oxygen therapy and recovered later in the day.