April 2020 Saw A 121% Surge In Accidental Poisonings Compared To Year Before
Time magazine reports that aggregated data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers demonstrates a marked rise in disinfectant and bleach poisoning cases for the month of April 2020. This includes an eight-day period following President Donald J. Trump’s April 23 comment in which he wondered aloud whether the internal use of disinfectant could eliminate coronavirus from a patient’s body.
Time emphasizes that “Critically, association is not causation, and with a frightened public doing whatever it can to protect itself from the virus, the same increases in poisonings might have happened regardless of Trump’s remarks. But the presidential megaphone is a powerful one, and even dangerous ideas projected through it can influence an awful lot of people.”
- Accidental poisoning cases with disinfectant and bleach were already slightly on the rise before Trump’s comments in January, February, and March, though to a lesser extent. Disinfectant cases were up from 2019 by 5%, 17%, and 93% respectively. Bleach cases were up 7%, 1%, and 59% respectively.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attributed this early rise in cases to a rise in the use of disinfectants and bleach to sanitize surfaces. Most posionings were due to inhaling fumes, though some were ingestion cases, mostly of children who got hold of chemicals left out in the open.
- During April, reported disinfectant cases were up by 121% compared to April 2019, and bleach cases were up by 77%. This included an eight-day period following Trump’s disinfectant comment.
- Times then observes, “In the first ten days of May, things settled down some, with [disinfectant] poisonings up 69% over the same 10-day period in 2019” and bleach poisonings up by 51%.