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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Effects of Chemical Exposure

by John K. Beaulieu

Immediate Effects Of Chemical Exposure
Could this happen in your home?  When Peter Schwabb of Seattle, Washington, was a year old, he crawled over the dishwasher to watch his mother unloading it.  Suddenly, he put a finger into the detergent dispensing cup and ate a fingerful of wet bu undissolved Electrasol.  In minutes his face was red and blistered, and the inside of this mouth and his tongue were burned white.  Because of a series of lucky circumstances, Peter was in the hospital within minutes and he recovered in a few days.
While Peter was in the hospital, there was a little girl across the hall who (according to Peter's mother) ate some dishwashing detergent and required seven operations to reopen her scarred esophagus.
Another 18-month-old boy had to eat through tubes for five months and at last count had thirty operations.  Detergent is what destroyed his throat too.
Three-year-old Jason Whitely, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, died a lingering and horrible death two weeks after swallowing three ounces of a hair rinse containing ammonia.
Seven-month-old Adrian Gonzalez, Jr., of Belen, New Mexico, crawled through a puddle of spilled bleach, which gave him third-degree burns on 50% of his tiny body and burned his lings from the fumes as well.  It took him four days to die.
The real tragedy here is that all of these accidents could have been prevented.  A simple decision to use safer products could have meant that these children would not have had to suffer and die.  Unfortunately, most parents don't realize that they have a choice. 

More Dangerous Than Guns
It may shock you to learn that according to the National Safety Council, more children under the age of four die of accidental poisonings at home than are accidentally killed with guns at home.  Among children age five and under, the most common poison is a cleaner or personal care products.
Ninety percent of all poisonings occur at home between the hours of 4 and 10 pm, when children are home from school and playing in the house.  Young children are especially vulnerable.  They learn by putting things in their mouths.  This is even more frightening when you consider the number of products that look like something else.  Window cleaner looks like blueberry drink.  Ammonia looks like apple juice.  Many poisons come in bright, colorful containers with small, obscure warning labels that young children can't read.  Remember the skull and crossbones symbol?  It's a symbol that children can identify easily, but manufacturers are no longer required to display it on most household products.
Lennon Miller, 18 months, of Memphis Tennessee, drank lemon-scented furniture polish, enticed no doubt by the attractive sell.  He lived during a day of suffering and dies in John Gaston Hospital of chemically-induced pneumonia.

Accidents Happen To Adults, Too
Young children are not the only ones at risk for chemical injury.  Poisoning is the number one accidental killer in the home, accounting for over 3,000 deaths in 1985 and over 4,000 deaths in 1990.  These chemicals are also responsible for thousands of injuries each year.
A 34-year-old man received burns on his arm after using a caustic drain-cleaner in his bathroom sink.  Fifteen minutes after applying the chemical, he ran water into the sink, but the remaining residue splashed on his arm.
A woman poured boiling water into a can of over cleaner, according to the directions on the can.  As she carried the can from the table to the oven, it spilled, burning her hand and producing large quantities of ammonia gas, which gave her a chocking cough.
But most of the health problems related to chemicals in the home are not because of accidents like these.  Most chemical-related health problems are the result of exposure to toxics day after day, year after year.

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