With a recent report from the CDC, we are told that over protection can be dangerous


With many states currently in lockdown, there are only so many things people can control. One of those is the ability to protect yourself from the pandemic through isolation and consistent cleanliness. Yet, there is such a thing as being overly cautious. According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), that philosophy is currently at play.

The use of disinfectant and other cleaning supplies has gone through the roof since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic struck the U.S., leaving stores in short or vacant supply. 

Saskia Popescu, Ph.D., an epidemiologist who works at a Phoenix-based healthcare system, noted in an interview with Business Insider that common household products such as Lysol and Clorox have chemicals in them that have proven to be effective against previously-known strains in the virus.

However, the high usage of disinfectant sprays has led to an increase in at-home poison cases. 

A recent report from the CDC was based on a set number of calls sent to the National Poison Data System (NPDS). During the months of January through March, 55 poison center buildings received 45,550 calls related to exposure of chemicals. According to the report, 28,158 of the calls were made due to cleaning products, while 17,392 were due to disinfectant sprays.

During this same period of three months, that number reached 38,000 calls in 2019, and 39,000 in 2018. This means, in total, this year the CDC saw an uprise of 20.4 percent in calls relating to chemical exposure compared to 2019.

Along with these stats, the report also noted that several of the calls made were with the intent of assisting children who ingested harmful chemicals. 

The report states, “The increase in total calls was seen across all age groups; however, exposures among children aged five years or younger consistently represented a large percentage of total calls in the 3-month study period for each year.”

Roughly 40 percent of the calls were related to that particular demographic. While the biggest reason for such an increase amongst this statistic has been due to bleach, for children the reason for their increase in 2020 has been thanks to hand sanitizers and non-alcoholic disinfectants. 

The report concluded by giving two cases that would mimic the type of calls the NPDS may receive with one appealing to the mass demographic and the second discussing a child. For the woman in the first, she was told by news coverage to clean groceries before eating them. Therefore, she cleaned them with a solution consisting of bleach, vinegar and hot water. This resulted in her having mild hypoxemia and being hospitalized.

As for the latter, the young child became dizzy after ingesting hand sanitizer which resulted in her falling and hitting her head. She was sent to an emergency room where it was discovered that her blood-alcohol level was nearly three and half times more than the legal driving limit. She eventually recovered after a night in the hospital.

These reports bring to life some very important chemical precautions that the CDC wants the public to consider during this trying time. It is important to always consider if chemicals are safe to be near, especially without protection on skin. Along with this, don’t mix chemicals that may be harmful when mixed. Finally, parents should always be aware of their children being able to grab chemicals without supervision.

It is no secret that this quarantine has been an overwhelming experience. The amount of information we have all digested, along with the fear of getting the virus has left several of us on our toes. However, we cannot let that become a block for lack of proper judgement. The CDC is reminding us through this report that it is just as important to be safe at home as it is to be safe when outdoors.