SAN ANTONIO – The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has forced families into some tight quarters for months now, and while that togetherness can be great, it has come with an unexpected repercussion. The South Texas Poison Center released its latest call data, revealing a much higher incidence of calls related to cleaning solutions, like bleach and disinfectants, and other coronavirus-related products.
The substances meant to keep us safe from COVID-19 are also toxic if swallowed or misused.
It’s believed that these products need to be stored more carefully than ever before because quarantine and social distancing rules require young children to spend longer hours indoors in close proximity.
Take hand sanitizers, for example. The poison center data provided by University Health System shows there have been 934 calls in 2020 for accidental poisoning with this product, a 70% increase from 2019.
The same is true of bleach. It looks like simple water, but if swallowed, it can be fatal. The data shows more than 1,100 calls were made to the poison center in 2019 for accidental bleach poisonings. In 2020, it is spiking with a 57% increase with 1,800 cases already.
There were also increases in calls regarding the malaria drug chloroquine, melatonin, various ointments and alcohol wipes.
But the biggest danger is apparently disinfectant. There were 258 calls in 2019 for accidental poisoning involving disinfectant. In 2020, the year of the novel coronavirus, there was a 157% jump in accidental poisoning inquiries.
Experts say one reason is that some disinfectants come in bottles that resemble fruit juice or come in colors that might make a child assume it’s sweet, like Kool Aid-type drinks.
See the chart below for the latest data from the South Texas Poison Center.