A 10-year analysis of telephone calls to the National Poisons Information Centre (NPIC) at AIIMS in the capital has revealed an “increased incidence of poisoning due to household products”, with children most at risk, and pesticides used at homes the most common culprit.
The study analysed 16,420 calls received by the NPIC between April 2006 and March 2016. NPIC was established in 1995 at AIIMS to combat acute poisoning, which doctors said was among the most common medical emergency in the world.
The study determined the “incidence of poisoning due to various household products as reported to the NPIC” and found that use of household pesticides accounted for the maximum number of cases (43.7%), followed by household cleaners (21.8%). Thermometer mercury (5.2%) naphthalene balls (5%), antiseptics (3%), kerosene (2%) and paint thinner (2%) were the other culprits. The study also noted that “miscellaneous products comprising camphor, silica gel, hair dye, nail polish remover, cosmetics, adhesives etc (17.1%) were also involved in poisoning”.
Of the total calls, 7,114 cases were due to ingestion of household products — with adults accounting for 38.7% of the cases and children for 61.2% of the cases. “The mode of poisoning was unintentional in 66.8% of the cases, and intentional in 33.2%. The most common route of exposure was oral (95.6%),” the study observed.
While the study noted that the pattern of poisoning varied in different parts of the country and the calls were not representative of the nationwide scenario, it did throw light on the increased incidence of poisoning among children through household products.
“The probable reasons for high incidence could be careless storage, ignorance, non-compliance with prescribed instructions for use and negligible parental supervision in case of children. The results highlight an urgent need to identify high-risk circumstances, common toxic products involved…,” stated the study.
The study added that extensive use of different chemicals in various fields and easy availability had increased the incidence of poisoning.