Texans are being warned of the dangers of ingesting bleach following an increase in calls to the state’s poison control centers.
Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a 45.28% increase in bleach-related calls, compared to the same time frame in 2019. The Texas Poison Center Network received reports of 2,711 human exposures to bleach from March 1 to Aug. 29, confirmed Patrick Tyler, general counsel, commission on state emergency communications, in an email.
At the North Texas Poison Center there were 46 calls about bleach between August 1 and August 20, with 29 of those calls related to someone drinking the toxic disinfectant, according to the center’s Public Education Coordinator Melinda Crockom.
The center blames the life threatening trend on misleading online information about bleach being a cure for COVID-19.
The calls have come from Dallas and Tarrant Counties, Collin County and some others.
“Whether these exposures were intentional (caller drinking bleach to prevent COVID) or accidental (an amount was swallowed while cleaning), we cannot tell from the data in the report,” she said.
Bleach isn’t the only cleaning or germ-fighting ingredient or product people have been having issues with. The Texas Department of State Health Services indicates the following changes from 2019 to 2020 — a 155% increase in calls related to disinfectants, and 68% increase in calls related to hand sanitizers.
“Bottomline, do not ingest bleach or other disinfectant products,” said Crockom. “There is no evidence to suggest that doing so will prevent coronavirus infection. However, there is evidence that shows that ingesting bleach can be harmful.”
If you have questions or concerns about bleach or any other substance that may be harmful to people, or for immediate help, call the Texas Poison Control Network at 1-800-222-1222.