While medicines (both prescription and over the counter) are responsible for about 60% of poisonings in Australia, new data show that household products are responsible for about 40% of toxic symptoms and hospitalisations due to exposure or ingestion.

The information is contained in a new ACCC report that uses information from the NSW Poisons Information Centre from the calls they received over 12-month period.

It shows the main culprits for poisonings in the home are:

  1. Batteries (disc/button)
  2. Pool chlorine
  3. Superglue
  4. Oven cleaner
  5. Cyalume glowsticks
  6. Denture cleaner (mistaken for medication)
  7. Hair dye
  8. Insecticide
  9. Hand sanitiser
  10. Dessicant (silica gel) – often found as small bags in amongst consumer packaging to absorb moisture.
  11. Eucalyptus oil

The report notes that about 180,000 calls are made to Poisons Information Centres across Australia, every year, and almost 2,500 children are admitted to hospital every year following poisonings.

It found that the most serious incidents related to carbon monoxide exposure from heaters and cookers, button batteries, caustic cleaners, pool chemicals, household bleaches and herbicides.

“Poisonings often occur on holidays when families are heading to holiday houses or visiting friends and relatives who may not have young children. This [ . . . ] holidays, be especially vigilant and check the house on arrival to ensure medicines and household chemicals cannot fall into little hands,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

Michael Woodhead

29 March 2016

Last Reviewed: 29/03/2016

Reproduced with kind permission from Australian Doctor


ACCC. ACCC poisons report. 24 March 2016