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Abdool S Yasseen*, Nina Dobbin, Deborah Weiss, Chunli Gu, Sara Khan, Ashley Rowe, Victoria Wan, Bojana Bogeljic, Dennis Leong, Laurie Mosher, Guillaume Belair, Brooke Button, James Hardy, Shahid Perwaiz, Alysyn Smith, Shawn Lawless, Margaret Thompson and Richard Wootton
Objective: To determine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the rates of exposure calls related to cleaning products and disinfectants made to Canadian poison centers, one year into the pandemic.
Methods: Using data obtained from Canadian poison centers between March 2019 and March 2022 regarding hand sanitizers, disinfectants, bleaches, chlorine gas, and chloramine gas, we applied an interrupted time series design to evaluate changes before and after the World Health Organization (WHO) declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic. Call rates were estimated as the number of cleaning products and disinfectants calls divided by the total number of exposures at monthly time intervals, and changes were assessed at 6 and 12 months after the WHO’s declaration. We additionally conducted a stratified analysis by patient age groups (≤ 19 years and >19 years).
Results: A total of 396,041 exposures were reported to the five Canadian poison centers, of which 5,669 (1.4%) were for hand sanitizers, 3375 (0.9%) for disinfectants, 7022 (1.8%) for bleaches, 2205 (0.6%) for chlorine gas, and 369 (0.1%) for chloramine gas exposures. Those most often exposed to hand sanitizers were ≤ 19 years of age, whereas those >19 years of age were more often exposed to bleaches, chlorine and chloramine gas. One year after the WHO declaration, exposures to hand sanitizers, chlorine gas, and chloramine gas have yet to return to pre-pandemic rates, showing an increase of 169% (95% Confidence Intervals (CI): 125, 214), 35% (95% Confidence Intervals (CI): 19, 51), and 108% (95% Confidence Intervals (CI): 26, 191) from pre-pandemic rates, respectively.
Conclusions: After an initial increase in calls related to cleaning products and disinfectants, calls related to the use of some products have returned to pre-pandemic levels, whereas others remain elevated. We identified a correlation between national public health response and reduction in calls made to poison centers, but further work is needed to determine why the numbers have not returned to baseline.
Published Date: 2022-02-07; Received Date: 2022-01-10