ACCC releases poisons report

24 March 2016

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is reminding parents to remove poisonous products from children’s reach, with data revealing almost 2,500 children are admitted to hospital every year following poisonings.

As part of International Poison Prevention Week, the ACCC has released a report which analyses calls made to Poisons Information Centres (13 11 26) from June 2014 to May 2015.

“Each year, 180,000 calls are made to Poisons Information Centres in Australia, with about half of these relating to children. The most common causes of poisoning incidents were all-purpose and hard surface cleaners, detergents, toilet bowl products, bleach, hand sanitisers, detergents and glow sticks," ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

"Children under 5 are most at risk of accidental poisoning, with the risk highest for 2 year olds."

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

The ACCC reports found that injuries range from skin irritations and eye damage through to severe internal burns. Ingesting toxic products can result in difficulty swallowing, chest pains, abdominal pain and vomiting. Some chemicals contacting the skin or eyes can result in rashes, chemical burns and blindness.

“The most serious incidents relate to carbon monoxide exposure, button batteries, caustic cleaners such as oven and BBQ cleaners, acids, pool chemicals, household bleaches and herbicides,” Ms Rickard said.

The ACCC is working with industry, parenting and accident prevention groups and other regulatory agencies to reduce the number and severity of preventable poisonings in Australia through raising consumer awareness about the hazards and encouraging product improvements.

The report is available at http://www.productsafety.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/1018897

Tips for parents and carers:

  • Cleaning products should be stored in a secure cabinet that children are unable to access.
  • Secure all chemical products in and around your home. Check areas in the house such as the kitchen, laundry, bathrooms, toilets as well as the garage and garden shed.
  • Check the house on arrival for medications and chemicals that are accessible.
  • Keep household chemicals in their original containers – never transfer them to used soft drink bottles.
  • Read the safety instructions on product labelling and follow the directions
  • Close containers so that ‘child resistant’ closures can function. Closures are not childproof and they are not a substitute for secure storage.
Release number: 
MR 34/16
Media enquiries: 
Media team - 1300 138 917

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