Months into the COVID-19 pandemic, trends are changing as Canadians continue to run into health risks relating to common household cleaners and disinfectants.
In June 2020, there were 1,060 calls reported to Canada’s five poison centres, which marks an 88 per cent increase compared to June 2019, involving exposures to hand sanitizers, disinfectants, bleaches, chlorine and chloramine gases.
According to data shared by Health Canada to Yahoo News Canada, calls related to disinfectants and bleaches have gone down in June compared to May and April of this year. While the total number of exposures for the two gasses combined has stayed below the record-high mark that was set in March.
But exposures to hand sanitizers are at an all-time high amid the pandemic, with 394 cases in June 2020, which is the most of any household cleaner or disinfectant. The trend also continues to gain pace, considering there were 329 hand sanitizer exposures in May 2020 and 208 in April 2020.
“I’m not surprised that we’re hearing about exposures…I’m surprised that we’re hearing about as many calls as we are,” said Heather Hudson, an inter-professional education specialist at the Ontario Poison Centre.
Health and public safety officials have attributed the rise in hand sanitizer exposures to the fact that it wasn’t as readily available at the start of the pandemic. Now, it’s in high demand as people start to make their way back into public spaces as physical distancing restrictions ease. With it being out in the open, it’s also led to accidental and intentional exposures, most commonly with children.
“One of the scenarios that always strikes us at the poison centres is the number of cases we get where the cleaning product is stored outside of its original container,” said Hudson. “It’s actually quite astonishing…it blows me away how many calls we get relating to mistaken identity.”
Mistaken identity occurs when people stock up on cleaning products, and decide to move some from their original container to smaller ones, such as water bottles. It leads to accidental ingestion, after someone mistakes the cleaning product for a drink.
To avoid it happening, Hudson reminds people to only buy the amount they need.
Sometimes it’s also not always one’s fault; over the course of the pandemic, Ontario’s poison centre has received reports of cleaning products being sold in reused beverage containers, such as two-litre pop bottles….Read More>>