Washington sees spike in poison control calls about household cleaners

May 1 2020, 1:11 pm

Seattle and King County Public Health Officials say that they’ve seen a spike in poison control calls about adult exposure to household cleaning products since COVID-19 stay-home orders were issued.

“With more people using cleaning products during the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been an increase in accidental poisonings in Washington State,” said Environmental Health representative Michell Mouton in a blog post.

The Washington Poison Center reported a 23% increase in calls about accidental poisonings from cleaners compared to this time period last year.

The calls involved people using disinfectants, bleaches, and hand sanitizers, according to the CDC.

Further analysis of the increase in calls from 2019 to 2020 showed that among all cleaner categories, bleaches accounted for the largest percentage of the increase, whereas non-alcoholic disinfectants and hand sanitizers accounted for the largest percentages of the increase among disinfectant categories. Inhalation represented the largest percentage increase among all exposure routes.

The escalation in calls appears to have started weeks before President Donald Trump suggested “injecting” disinfectant to ward off the coronavirus. Trump has received intense backlash for his April 23 comment, with health authorities denouncing the advice and Lysol even issuing a warning asking customers not to ingest its products.

The Seattle and King County Public Health Officials are reminding people to never mix products, to not ingest cleaners or disinfectants, to clean before disinfecting, and to use gloves while cleaning and disinfecting.

The Washington Poison Center can be reached at 1-800-222-1222.