March 27, 2020

Poison Center sees increase in disinfectant exposure calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The Michigan Poison Center at the Wayne State School of Medicine advises caution when using cleaning and disinfecting products. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the center has received double the calls about accidental exposures to these products. This includes cleaning and disinfecting liquids and wipes. Michiganders will be spending more time at home, increasing the risk of accidental exposure to these products.

We ask everyone to read and follow the directions listed on packaging so that the products will be effective in keeping you and your loved ones safe.

Cleaning and disinfecting products can cause harm to skin, eyes, mouth and stomach. Please store these products out of reach of children and anyone else who may not understand the products’ ability to hurt them. Use child safety latches and locks on cabinets to help prevent accidental exposure to cleaning and disinfecting products.

Always keep cleaning and disinfecting products in their original containers. Do not put disinfecting wipes near baby wipes, and never store cleaning and disinfecting products in the refrigerator. Most unintentional exposures to cleaning and disinfecting products cause mild symptoms, such as irritation to the skin, mouth and eyes. However, some of these products are more dangerous if not handled properly.

Due to the shortage of household cleaning products, people are now buying industrial cleaning products and disinfectants to use in their homes. Industrial-strength cleaning products and disinfectants are more poisonous than typical household cleaning and disinfecting products. Ingesting or mishandling industrial-strength cleaning and disinfecting products can cause severe burns to the stomach, eyes and skin. Do not mix cleaning products. This does not make them more effective, and can release toxic gases that can cause severe breathing problems.

If someone in your family drinks cleaning or disinfecting products, do not force vomiting; instead, call the Poison Center immediately. Skin and eyes can be rinsed for 15 to 20 minutes in the shower or sink. Anyone who still has symptoms after rinsing should contact a health care professional or the Poison Center right away.

The Michigan Poison Center can be reached all day, every day at 1-800- 222-1222.

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