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poisonings

Five-fold increase in calls about hand sanitiser to poison information hotline in 2020

There were 340 enquiries to the National Poisons Information Centre about hand sanitiser in 2020

THE NUMBER OF inquiries to a poison information line about hand sanitiser saw a five-fold increase in 2020 compared to 2019, a new report shows.

The National Poisons Information Centre of Ireland’s (NPIC) annual report details how the centre received 11,687 enquiries in 2020, which is a 1.25% decrease on 2019.

Of these enquiries, 340 were to do with hand sanitiser. Between March and July, there were 134 calls to the centre, compared to 21 calls in 2019 during the same period.

The report details that 70.9% of these cases were to do with children aged under ten, while 84.4% of all hand sanitiser inquiries involved the ingestion of sanitiser.

“2020 was a challenging year for staff at the NPIC. With the emergence of Covid-19 in March we saw a major increase in queries particularly related to hand sanitiser and other products designed to protect us all from infection,” said Dr Edel Duggan, Clinical Director of NPIC.

The most common medicines associated with calls to the centre were ibuprofen and paracetamol, while disinfectants, antiseptics and hand sanitisers made up the fourth most common agents, with 608 queries being sent to NPIC.

The busiest month for the centre was in March 2020, where there was 1,100 queries sent in to NPIC.

Of all the queries sent into NPIC in 2020, 67% of them involved both children and adolescents, with children between one and four making up 45% of all queries.

Over 90% of the incidents took place in domestic settings, with Duggan saying people need to take care and be aware of household products that could affect children.

“As we have all continued to spend more time at home throughout 2021, we all need to be aware of the household products which could affect children, especially younger children who may not recognise the danger of these products,” said Duggan.

“The Public Poisons Information Line is available 7 days a week between 8am and 10pm for queries from the public, aimed at parents, where we can rapidly advise if you need to seek urgent medical attention for your child.

“Outside of these hours parents should contact their GP service or a hospital emergency department. Healthcare professionals can contact the NPIC 24 hours a day, every day.”

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