Household cleaning product-related injuries treated in US emergency departments in 1990-2006

Pediatrics. 2010 Sep;126(3):509-16. doi: 10.1542/peds.2009-3392. Epub 2010 Aug 2.


Objective: The goal was to examine comprehensively the patterns and trends of household cleaning product-related injuries among children treated in US emergency departments.

Methods: 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.

Results: An estimated 267 269 children<or=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.

Conclusion: Although national rates of household cleaning product-related injuries in children decreased significantly over time, the number of injuries remains high.

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergencies / epidemiology
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Household Products / poisoning*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology