Child Injuries From Chemicals to Rise in Summer

A new study released by researchers in Ohio indicates that while overall chemical-related injuries involving small children have decreased significantly over the last 10 years, they are likely to increase during the summer.
Our Spartanburg personal injury lawyers know that primarily, we’re talking about injuries caused by lamp oils, gasoline and other similar chemicals.

The drop in these kinds of poisonings and burns began in 2000 and 2001, according to the study’s author, Dr. Heath Jolliff, who is also the associate medical director for the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.

This reduction coincides with the time period during with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission required that such products be encased in packaging that was child-resistant.

However, the summer always seems to result in a marked increase in chemical injuries for children. Primarily, these would be due to things like the fuel used in tiki torches or the kerosene that is used for outdoor camping stoves or the gasoline used in lawnmowers. These are all known as hydrocarbons.

Children have greater access to these chemicals during the summer, and toddlers especially are at high risk for both ingestion and burns.

These type of fuels, the study author reported, is the third-leading cause of child poisoning deaths. The study was motivated by a child that Jolliff personally treated. That child had reportedly been exposed to hydrocarbon and, as a result, became very sick.

In establishing the study, researchers culled information from databases that were compiled over the course of a decade, between 2000 and 2009 and includes records from more than 100 hospitals across the country, as well as phone calls made to nearly 60 poison control centers.

From there, the researchers were able to isolate only those calls and visits that involved children younger than five and some type of hydrocarbon. That involved some 65,000 poison control calls and some 40,000 emergency room visits.

During those 10 years, the number of emergency room visits dropped to about 14 out of every 100,000 children, down from 19 out of every 100,000 children. Poison control center calls too tapered off during that time frame, down to 21 out of every 100,000 children from 34 out of every 100,000 children.

Most commonly, 1 and 2-year-olds were the ones injured. Of those, the most serious injuries were caused by exposure to lighter fluids, lamp oil and kerosene. The highest percentage of deaths was caused by lamp oil.

Although the injuries are down quite a bit, every summer saw a spike. In fact, nearly a third of all hydrocarbon-related poison control calls and emergency room visits came during those three months.

One of the most surprising causes for exposure? Parents who were allowing their children outside of the vehicle at the gas station. Children subsequently pull the house from the car and get splashed with the fuel. The liquid quickly transforms to a gas, and those gases become inhaled – something that becomes quickly very dangerous, especially for young children.

Contact our South Carolina personal injury lawyers at Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:
Kids’ chemical injuries down, but may rise in summer, May 7, 2013, By Kerry Grens, Reuters

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