NC Poison Control sees increase in incidents related to cleaning products during coronavirus pandemic

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WTVD) -- As the novel coronavirus continues to spread across North Carolina, more residents are contacting the North Carolina Poison Control office with questions about exposure to household cleaning products.

In a news release, North Carolina Poison Control said the agency has seen a 50% increase in calls about cleaning products year-over-year---the office reported 454 calls in March 2019 and 682 calls in March 2020.

NCPC said the most common incidents involve spraying household cleaners like bleach and disinfectants into eyes or on skin, or mixing chemicals together, creating toxic fumes. The agency also warned against leaving products like hand sanitizer within reach of children.

In the release, NCPC urged North Carolinians only to use cleaning products as directed and never to inject or swallow them.

The agency provided the following tips to keep family members safe:
  • Store cleaning products high up and away from children
  • Do not mix chemicals together
  • Do not confuse surface cleaning wipes with personal care wipes, as surface wipes can damage skin.
  • Follow all instructions of the label
  • Wear protective equipment like gloves while cleaning

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"We understand people are paying special attention to keeping their homes clean and are very mindful of their health right now," said Dr. Anna Dulaney, clinical toxicologist at NCPC, in a written statement. "But we want people to know that cleaning products can be toxic if they're used in the wrong way."

Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 45,550 calls related to household cleaners and disinfectants between January and March 2020. The National Poison Data System reported nearly 6,000 incidents involving hand sanitizer in children 5 years old and younger between January 1 and April 19, 2020.
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