AL Poison Control Center reports spike in calls during COVID-19 due to cleaning product exposure


CBP officers working at the Bridge of the Americas commercial import facility at the El Paso port of entry, encountered a large shipment of what appeared to be cleaning supplies arriving from Mexico on March 16. The products appeared to be tampered with and prohibited for sale in the U.S. (Courtesy CBP)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WKRG) — Cleaning products were the number one exposure for all ages from March 17 through April 8, up by 38 percent from this time last year.

The Alabama Poison Information Center (APIC) at Children’s of Alabama has remained open and available to the public 24/7 during this pandemic.

APIC is very unique in Alabama because household cleaning products have been its number one exposure in children under 6-years-old for years for more than 10 years at least.  Nationally, cosmetics is the number one exposure in children under 6-years-old, then cleaning products, then analgesics.  In Alabama, it is cleaning products, cosmetics, then analgesics.

Exposure call volume involving children under 6 years of age has increased by 5 percent through April 8, 2020.

The most common cleaning substance involved in an exposure was household bleach. 

During COVID-19 APIC nurses and pharmacists are continuing to provide assessments and follow-ups so that more than 90 percent of exposures (all age groups) when the call originated from home are able to remain at home and away from healthcare facilities/emergency departments.

For more information, visit the Alabama Poison Control Center: 1-800-222-1222

You can also download the “Poison Perils of Alabama” app to learn more about plants and animals that are toxic and non-toxic in the state.

Calls for insect bites/stings have doubled compared to last year, March 17, 2019 – April 2, 2019. APIC has also seen an increase in snakebites. Numbers have tripled during COVID-19 due to more people being at home and kids are out of school.


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