Cleaning product exposures up 30% in Illinois due to COVID-19 pandemic

The Illinois Poison Center (IPC) urges people to use caution with cleaning products, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to IPC data, exposures to cleaning products are up 30%, compared to last year, related to novel coronavirus transmission precautions and concerns.

Examples of exposures the IPC is managing include:

• People using non-traditional chemicals to wash their hands (e.g. bleach, hydrogen peroxide, wipes, etc.) instead of regular hand soap resulting in rash/irritation and cracked skin.

• People using chemicals (e.g. bleach, wipes, cleaning powders) to wash their groceries, including produce and are then concerned about toxicity upon ingestion;

• Mixing cleaning chemicals together and inadvertently producing toxic gas; and

• Pediatric exposures to cleaning products left open/unattended.

IPC offers these tips for poison-proofing your home:

• Whenever using cleaning products, always read the product label first and use the product according to the label directions;

• Keep all cleaning products in their original containers with original labels;

• Store cleaning products out of sight, in locked cabinets;

• Keep all household cleaning products and other potentially harmful products separated from food products;

• Never leave a cleaning product open and unattended;

• When using cleaning products, work in well-ventilated areas; and

• Dispose of cleaning products according to the instructions on the label or at your community chemical waste drop-off site.

Approximately 90% of poison exposures can be treated safely and effectively at home, by calling the IPC at 800-222-1222 (the call is free and confidential and available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, including holidays) and providing the name of the poisonous substance and the approximate amount involved in the exposure.

In case of a poisoning exposure, follow these first-aid steps, then call the IPC:

• Swallowed: Give a few sips of water to drink. If the patient is unconscious, call 911 or take them to the nearest hospital emergency department. Never try to chemically neutralize any poison.

• Skin: Remove contaminated clothing and wash skin gently with soap and cool water.

• Eyes: Rinse eyes with lukewarm water for 15 minutes.

• Fumes: Remove patient to fresh air, taking care not to become exposed yourself. If the patient is not breathing, call 911 and start artificial respiration and continue until medical help arrives.

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