Household disinfectant exposure during the COVID-19 pandemic: A retrospective study of the data from an italian poison control center

Antonio Oliva, Vincenzo Lorenzo Pascali, Massimo Antonelli, Paolo Maurizio Soave, Benedetta Romano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic it has been recommended that chemical disinfectants are used to protect surfaces. This study aimed to determine whether the number of exposure calls related to household disinfectants (HD) received between January 30, 2020 to May 18, 2020 varied from the same time period in the previous year. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A retrospective review of the poison control center database from the Fondazione Universitario Policlinico Agostino Gemelli IRCCS, Rome, Italy, was conducted. Calls from Italian citizens, hospitals, and general practitioners received during the same time period in 2019 and 2020 were compared. RESULTS: The center received 1972 exposure calls during the study period. A 5% increase in calls regarding exposure to HDs was noted from 2019 to 2020 (9.8% to 15.2%, p<0.001). The majority of enquiries regarded bleach-containing products, hand sanitizers, ethanol, and hydrogen peroxide. Most calls were received from patients in their homes (n, 259; prevalence, 86%; increase, 107%) and concerned accidental exposure (n, 280; prevalence, 93%; increase, 76%), while cases of intentional exposure decreased (n, 14; prevalence, 5%; decrease, 33%). The main route of exposure was ingestion (n, 170; prevalence, 57%; increase, 45%), but the highest increase was observed in inhalation cases (n, 82; prevalence, 27%; increase, 122%). CONCLUSIONS: As the incidence of enquiries regarding products that can represent an important health hazard, when improperly used, increased in 2020 suggests that the COVID-19 public health messaging on the proper use of HDs should be improved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1738-1742
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Household disinfectants
  • Poison control center
  • Risk management
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Poison Control Centers
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Disinfection
  • Disinfectants


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