A hundred children burned by disinfectant between 2017 and 2022, notes ANSES

A disinfection team cleans the school canteen at the Saint-Exupéry primary school in Cannes, France, on May 5, 2020.

Improper use of disinfectants in toilets or on furniture caused around a hundred skin injuries, sometimes serious burns, in kindergarten children between 2017 and 2022, warns the National Agency for Food Safety, Environment and Labor (ANSES) in a report published Thursday 7 September.

After several reports of severe skin damage in young children in the community, ANSES analyzed accidents related to the use of biocidal disinfectants between 2017 and 2022. Over this period, 118 cases of skin damage were recorded by poison control centers in children in the community, most often in kindergartens following disinfection of toilets, noted the health agency.

“While the skin damage was overwhelmingly of low severity, eleven children nevertheless presented with a second degree burn, and one child required a skin graft for a third degree burn on the buttock”noted the Agency in a press release.

Sharp increase in cases during the Covid-19 crisis

With more fragile skin, children under 6 are the population most affected, “especially little girls, who systematically sit on the toilet bowl”she noted.

For these accidents, “a sharp increase was observed in 2020 and 2021, most likely linked to the strengthening of disinfection actions implemented during the Covid-19 epidemic, in particular the disinfection of objects such as tables, chairs, toys”said ANSES.

But new cases were reported in early 2023, showing the problem persists, she added. “Accidents are mainly linked to errors in the use of disinfectants [absence de rinçage ou de dilution, produit inadapté à l’usage qui en a été fait…] »who have “could have been favoured” by variable terms of use depending on the surface disinfected, instructions for use not available or even confusing mentions on the labels, according to the scientists.

To limit the risk of accidents, ANSES recommends using products suitable for the surfaces, favoring the least dangerous products, ready to use, with clear and simple instructions for use, rinsing the products after application or accidental spillage, do not carry out cleaning-disinfection in the presence of children or even train personnel.

In the event of contact with the skin, remove impregnated clothing and wash the skin thoroughly with water. If the contaminated area is large or if skin lesions appear, consult a doctor or call a poison control center. In 2020, ANSES had warned against poisoning linked to disinfectant products.

The World with AFP

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