Increase in children poisoned after drinking reed spray liquid as parents urge to keep them out of reach

Retailers and consumers are being urged to verify that safety information is displayed on reed diffusers – which emit home fragrances – following a large increase in reports of children accidentally drinking liquid into the products.

The Health and Safety Administration (HSA) announced today that the number of calls to the National Poisons Center at Beaumont Hospital about reed sprayers rose nearly 300 percent between 2015 and 2021 – from 34 to 115.

In 2020, the center at Beaumont Hospital received reports of 78 children drinking reed nebulizer liquid. Most of these children were under 3.

Reed diffusers are often used to add fragrance to a room. The reed is placed in a glass bottle or jar containing scented diffuser oil, the reed absorbs the scent and releases a fragrant aroma over time. Refill packs are sold to replace or refill the liquid in the diffuser.

The HSE said it had launched a targeted campaign of inspections due to the increase in reports.

It verified the compliance of 41 different brands of reed diffusers available in Ireland. The results of this inspection campaign showed that while many of the products sold had the relevant safety information on the outer packaging, they did not have the required safety information on the inner bottle.

Because the outer packaging is typically discarded after purchase, the lack of a hazard label on the diffuser bottle itself could delay appropriate medical attention for a child accidentally exposed to the contents.

The composition of these products can vary, so it is important that the composition can be correctly identified when the poison center receives a call from a caregiver to ensure patients are getting the right care in the right place.

The HSA emphasizes the importance for consumers of reading the label before purchasing household products, as many household products contain chemicals that can cause harmful effects through accidental exposure or failure to follow safety information. Some household products can be harmful if swallowed, cause skin reactions, or cause long-term skin sensitization to the chemical ingredients.

Yvonne Mullooly, Assistant Chief Executive, Chemicals & Industrial Product, HSA, said: “Having completed the inspection campaign, we continue to investigate the current issues relating to hazardous chemicals contained in reed diffusers sold in the Irish market and any non-compliance with Packaging and labeling needs.

“First and foremost, we urge retailers to ensure that the products they sell contain the relevant safety information under chemicals legislation. We also encourage consumers to educate themselves about buying safe products. The agency provides guidance to both retailers and consumers on the HSA website, along with a podcast offering advice to consumers when buying products containing chemicals online. I urge people to familiarize themselves with our available guidance and become familiar with it.”

Patricia Casey, Manager, National Poison Information Center – Beaumont Hospital said: “Accidental exposure to chemicals can be very dangerous for young children and we are working closely with the Health and Safety Agency to bring any relevant incidents to their attention. If liquid from a tubular diffuser comes into contact with the eyes, it can cause pain or, if swallowed, cause vomiting, coughing, or drowsiness. It can also cause a rash if it comes in contact with the skin.

“We advise parents, grandparents and childminders to keep fragrance diffusers out of reach and to read the safety information on the label. If liquid is accidentally swallowed, flush as much liquid as possible out of the mouth Water and do not induce vomiting If it comes into contact with skin, wash thoroughly If it comes into contact with eyes, rinse thoroughly with water for 10-15 minutes Then contact the National Poisons Center (01 – 809 2166 ) to seek advice on whether medical assistance is required.” Increase in children poisoned after drinking reed spray liquid as parents urge to keep them out of reach

Fry Electronics Team

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