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Poison Control seeing more calls during pandemic

Posted at 6:44 PM, Apr 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-10 19:44:37-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — If you’ve been shopping, recently you’ve probably seen stores with shortages of cleaning supplies. That has caused some people to mix common household chemicals they already have to make a more potent disinfectant, not knowing they might need to go to the hospital shortly after.

“People are going to do things that are maybe ill-advised because people are nervous,” said Dr. Ron Kirschner of the Nebraska Regional Poison Center. “The things that they usually use might not be available, and they use something unfamiliar or combine those things.”

There lies the problem, when you combine certain cleaning chemicals, like bleach and ammonia, it can create a toxic situation.

“If you mix them together, they can form toxic gases called chloramine that you can inhale and can be very irritating to your lungs,” said Kirschner.

That’s just one example; another common mixture would be bleach and vinegar, which creates chlorine.

“Chlorine was used as a chemical weapon in WWI, very irritating to the lungs and could be potentially dangerous,” said Kirschner.

He warns don’t mix bleach and rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide and vinegar because of the harmful elements they will produce.

He also says don’t drink any of these chemicals thinking it will help fight the coronavirus and don’t use things like bleach on your skin.

“Maybe not as serious harm but irritation, rashes, and potentially chemical burns,” said Kirschner.

It’s also a good idea to keep those toxic chemicals out of the reach of young children during these times. If you have questions or concerns, you can contact the Nebraska Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.