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Indiana Poison Center calls about disinfectants up 32% since March last year



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Shelves are stocked with bleach at Karns Food grocery store in Lemoyne, Pennysylvania. The Indiana Poison Center has seen an increase in calls related to cleaning products and disinfectants in the last year, according to an email from IU Health spokesperson Beth Resner.  Tribune News Service

The Indiana Poison Center has seen an increase in calls related to cleaning products and disinfectants in the last year, according to an email from IU Health spokesperson Beth Resner. 

President Donald Trump's suggestion Thursday that injecting disinfectants could fight the coronavirus has sparked a controversy. However, the increase in calls to the poison center didn’t spike after Trump’s White House briefing — it started earlier this year, as COVID-19 fears mounted. 

The Indiana Poison Center received 417 calls in March 2020, which is a 32% increase from March 2019, according to Resner’s email. The center has seen an overall increase in calls related to disinfectants and cleaners in March and April compared to the same period last year. 

“While some of these cases result in serious medical outcomes, the majority of these exposures result in minor effects and a good outcome,” Resner said in the email.

The number of calls to poison centers this year about disinfectants and cleaners has increased across the country, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There may be an association between the increase in these calls and COVID-19 guidelines about cleaning high-touch surfaces, according to the study. As more people use disinfectants to stay safe from the new virus, there are more cases of misuse. 

Joseph Shaw, associate professor at the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs and an expert in environmental toxicology, said injecting or ingesting disinfectants and household cleaners is dangerous and possibly deadly.

Bleach injections can cause kidney injury and blood clots, Shaw said. Ingesting bleach can cause internal stomach bleeding.

“They could kill the virus, but they don’t distinguish between the virus and our own body cells, so they’re going to indiscriminately kill,” Shaw said. “They are toxic.”

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