Uptick Reported in Human Exposures to Dangerous Chemicals Due to More People Cleaning at Home

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DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa Poison Control Center reports that calls have nearly doubled since last year involving human exposures to harmful chemicals in cleaning products. These products include hand sanitizer, bleach, and disinfectants. Most of these exposures include swallowing the product, inhaling fumes or getting these products in eyes or on the skin. 

Some safety tips that the Iowa Poison Control Center suggest are reading the product’s label instructions for proper use and to open doors and windows to ventilate properly when using bleach, household cleaners and disinfectants. IPCC also suggests not mixing bleach with ammonia or an acid such as vinegar as it can create a toxic gas. 

The Educational Coordinator at the Iowa Poison Control Center, Tammy Noble, advises against using industrial products you generally find at work for cleaning at home. 

“You don’t want to take things from work and bring those home because those industrial products are oftentimes more poisonous because they have higher concentrations for the intent of industrial purposes. And that’s not the same situation that we’re dealing with at home,” Noble said. 

Most accidental exposures to cleaning products cause mild symptoms, but some of these products are more dangerous if not handled properly. 

“These disinfectants are not intended to be used on human skin. So don’t spray the product on yourself thinking that that’s going to kill any germs that you might have on yourself,” Noble said. “Those chemicals are pretty strong and so you see a lot of skin irritation and potentially even burns if they’re left on the skin for long periods of time.” 

The Iowa Control Center advises parents to keep cleaning products out of the reach of children. IPCC is open 24/7 to help you with any exposures or for any recommendations. 

You can reach the Iowa Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 or by visiting their website

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