Acute intoxication

The excessive use of toxic chemicals in our homes means that poisoning from household products is a frequent reason for admissions in emergency departments.

Many products used at home can cause acute poisonings: dishwasher detergents, laundry detergents (washing, prewash, lime scale removal, whiteners, fabric softeners), cleaning products (general cleaners, glass cleaners, multipurpose cleaners, bathroom cleaners, furniture and floor polishers, stain removers, carpet cleaners, oven cleaners, ceramic or metal cleaners, grease removers, lime scale removers, drain cleaners) and, of course, pesticides and air fresheners etc. There is also a possible risk of accidental ingestion of drugs and medications.

We need to be aware of the risks of these products and take simple precautionary measures e.g. keeping them out of the reach of children, making sure they are correctly labelled and securely sealed in their packaging to avoid confusion, not mixing cleaning products etc.

Even small household items can be the cause of poisonings such as cleaning products, colognes, lipsticks, shower gels, washing detergents and pesticides.

However, at Hogar sin Tóxicos, although we are concerned about the immediate effects that acute exposure from these products can cause, we are more worried about the possibility of a more significant impact on public health. There is more cause for concern regarding the chronic effects of long-term, low-level exposure to many of these chemicals than regarding domestic accidents involving acute poisoning.

Many cases of cancer, asthma, allergies, infertility etc. are caused by these exposures which often go unnoticed.

We have covered the topic of more common accidents but you should get more informed about acute poisonings from the people who deal with them.

If you are a member of the public and have any enquiries concerning poisoning or overdose, contact NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.

Medical Toxicology Information Services (MTIS) also provides 24 hour telephone information services to a wide variety of organizations, they may be contacted on 020 7188 0600. For further details see


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