During the first three months of 2020, the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center saw a 20% jump in calls. The number mirrors what other poison control centers across the U.S. saw during the same time period.
The No. 1 type of call to the Arizona center was accidental ingestion of household cleaners. Steven Dudley, director of the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center, says part of the reason for the increase in calls is that — due to the stay-at-home order — more people are around the house than usual, which leads to more potential exposures to household chemicals.
“Person 1 is in the house doing their due diligence, cleaning around, and they transfer some cleaner from their original container to a smaller container — a cup, an empty water bottle, etc. Person 2 comes in while Person 1's back is turned and thinks, ‘Oh good, I’m thirsty and could use some water or Gatorade.’ They pick it up, not knowing what it is and take a couple of swallows,” said Steven Dudley, director of the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center.
Dudley said those types of cases are split 60-40 between children and adults.
The second most common type of calls is due to inhaling something. Dudley said many of those are also caused by household cleaners.
“The big ones are mixing bleach with acids that you can find in household cleaners or mixing bleach with ammonia as well and those produce chlorine and chloramine gasses,” Dudley explained.
Dudley said the center has not received any calls after someone has ingested a household cleaner in hopes of curing COVID-19. He also warned against doing that.
Most people keep household cleaners under the sink for convenience. Dudley said for safety, especially if there are small children in the house, those cleaners should be clearly labeled and kept in higher cabinets.