A new study by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) indicates that more than on average 15,000 children each year are treated for injuries related to ingesting cleaning products such as ammonia, bleach and laundry detergent, as first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
The most common container for injuries was spray bottles used for household cleaners, accounting for 40 percent of all cases. While many other products have developed child-proof containers, these bottles can be sprayed or unscrewed for ingestion by an unsuspecting toddler. The No. 1 product associated with injuries is bleach.
The number of reported injuries in 2006 (11,964) is down 46 percent from 1990 (22,141), which the study has credited to better awareness from parents, child-resistant packaging and more home remedies suggested by poison control.
The study covered children ages five and under, with research by Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio, and says children of this age group account for the majority of all poison exposures.
The AAP has several recommendations for keeping children safe, including storing these chemicals in locked cabinets and keeping products in their original containers. It specifically mentioned cases where parents had stored cleaners in food and drink containers.
Each year in March, the EPA sponsors a Poison Prevention Week to educate homeowners about these same issues. Congress has also weighed in on this topic with a proposed bill known as the Household Product Labeling Act of 2009. This would require manufacturers to thoroughly identify any ingredients in cleaners that may cause health effects, either immediately or over time.
The toxic chemicals in household cleaner bottles also pose an environmental issue if improperly disposed, which includes dumping excess material down the drain. These products should be taken to a household hazardous waste collection.