Spray cleaners send thousands of babies and toddlers to the emergency room each year, according to the results of a new study. Nearly 12,000 children under age five go to the emergency room each year because of injuries caused by household cleaning products, according to a study in Pediatrics. About 40% of those injuries — or nearly 4,800 cases — are caused by spray bottles, which typically don’t have child-resistant caps, according to the study of 267,269 children.
Although some spray nozzles can be turned to an “off” position, parents often leave them in spraying mode, says study author Lara McKenzie of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Nimble children can turn the nozzles themselves. Spray cleaners can contain a range of hazardous chemicals, from ammonia to bleach. More than 740 small children injured by cleaning supplies in 2006 had symptoms that were life-threatening or caused long-term disabilities, the study says. Carl Baum of Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital observed:
People don’t realize that the handle can be activated by a small child. Kids will put their mouths on the nozzle and drink it in.
Dr. McKenzie says spray bottles naturally attract children. They usually have bright packaging, with fruity or flowery scents and bright colors, and the spray handles make them feel like squirt guns. It must be remembered that toddlers’ curiosity and climbing skills usually outstrip their judgment. So it’s easy to see why children younger than age five account for more than half of all poisonings each year. Poison control centers handle calls for about 1 million children under age six each year, says pediatrician Jamie Freishtat, a spokeswoman for Safe Kids USA, an advocacy group, which wasn’t involved in the new study.
Although she’s concerned about the risk from spray bottles, Dr. Freishtat says she’s encouraged that other safety improvements — such as less hazardous ingredients — have helped to cut the overall number of children who are injured by cleaning products by 46% since 1990.
Source: USA Today
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