The goal was to examine comprehensively the patterns and trends of household cleaning product-related injuries among children treated in US emergency departments.
Through use of the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System database, cases of unintentional, nonfatal, household cleaning product-related injuries were selected by using product codes for drain cleaners, ammonia, metal polishes/tarnish removers, turpentine, dishwasher detergents, acids, swimming pool chemicals, oven cleaners, pine oil cleaners/disinfectants, laundry soaps/detergents, toilet bowl products, abrasive cleaners, general-purpose household cleaners, noncosmetic bleaches, windshield wiper fluids, caustic agents, lye, wallpaper cleaners, room deodorizers/fresheners, spot removers, and dishwashing liquids. Products were categorized according to major toxic ingredients, mode of action, and exposure.
An estimated 267 269 children ≤5 years of age were treated in US emergency departments for household cleaning product-related injuries. The number of injuries attributable to household cleaning product exposure decreased 46.0% from 22 141 in 1990 to 11 964 in 2006. The product most-commonly associated with injury was bleach (37.1%). Children 1 to 3 years of age accounted for 72.0% of cases. The primary mechanism of injury was ingestion (62.7%). The most common source or container was spray-bottles (40.1%). Although rates of household cleaner-related injuries from regular bottles or original containers and kitchenware decreased during the study period, spray-bottle injury rates showed no decrease.
Although national rates of household cleaning product-related injuries in children decreased significantly over time, the number of injuries remains high.