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Utah Poison Control Center calls increase 20% due to COVID-19

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Poison Control Center reported excessive cleaning due to COVID-19  has caused a 20% increase in calls to their hotline.

Utah Poison Control Center Medical Director Dr. Michael Moss says the increase in calls mirrors the jump in poison control hotlines across the country. The Centers for Disease Control reported similar findings.

Dr. Moss says they receive three common types of calls.

“One, people are mixing things that they shouldn’t like bleach [and] ammonia. Those mix and release harmful vapors and gasses that can be very irritating and cause problems…Two, people are either not wearing gloves or are using things meant to disinfect their countertops on their hands or their bodies, and that causes severe irritation,” Dr.Moss reported.

The third type of call involves children accessing things they are not supposed to.

“Young children can get into [household cleaners] and drink them, which can cause irritation in their mouth or throat. People may not recognize hand sanitizer most often contains ethanol or alcohol,” said Moss.

The Utah Poison Control hotline has also received calls after people washed their produce with household cleaners.

These calls are not surprising to Dr. Moss because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“More people are at home and not at work or at school. That, by nature, would just increase the number of calls that we’re getting from people at home and children getting into things. And, two, people are trying to be very aggressive and trying to do their part to keep their homes and themselves clean and not get COVID-19,” Moss says.

Dr. Moss recommends using household cleaners as directed, keeping them away from children, and using gloves when cleaning.

The exact number of calls to Utah’s Poison Control Center with a COVID-19 related issue is unknown. No one has reported any serious injuries.