Eight-fold rise in poisoning from sanitisers: AIIMS study

According to the AIIMS study, people consumed the sanitisers accidentally and on purpose to attempt suicide or satiate their urge for alcohol.

Published: 27th September 2023 08:42 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th September 2023 08:42 AM   |  A+A-

hand sanitiser

Hand sanitizers (Photo | AP)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: A toxicology study by AIIMS Delhi has revealed that inappropriate use of hand sanitisers led to an 800 per cent rise in incidents of poisoning after ingestion of the hand sanitisers (HS).

According to the study, people consumed the sanitisers accidentally and on purpose to attempt suicide or satiate their urge for alcohol.

Divided into non-Covid periods and the lockdown months, the study assessed 4,000 calls received by the National Poisons Information Centre (NPIC) at AIIMS and was conducted during the pre-lockdown (December 2019 to February 2020) and the first lockdown period (March to May 2020).

“Compared to the pre-lockdown period, there was an 8-fold increase in HS-related calls during the lockdown possibly due to the easy availability of HS and increase in its use as well as unsafe exposure/misuse during this period,” the research published in the National Medical Journal of India stated.

The meta-analysis of the calls indicated that people consumed alcohol-based sanitisers since alcohol was banned during the lockdown. A significant number, of people who ingested hand sanitisers committed suicide as well. Some of the individuals who used it for suicidal purposes consumed about 100 ml of the sanitiser liquid.

“The lockdown period included 86 per cent had taken HS accidentally while 13 per cent used it with a suicidal intent,” according to the study.

The main reasons for suicidal tendencies during the lockdown include social boycott, loneliness, fear of COVID-19 infection and positivity, pressure to be quarantined, financial crisis, work-related stress, inability to return home due to the lockdown and unavailability of alcohol, it noted.

However, none of them developed severe symptoms after consumption. “Most of the patients were asymptomatic (76 per cent) when they contacted the centre while some experienced symptoms such as 
irritation, drowsiness, burning throat and abdominal pain with fever, dyspnoea and vomiting,” the study said.

The researchers pointed out that the majority of the poisoning incidents due to HS consumption cases were recorded from the Southern and Northern parts of the country while they also added that such cases were more reported among men which accounted for over 60 per cent of the respondents.

“An analysis of calls based on different zones of the country revealed that in both periods, the number of calls was higher from south and north zones. Further, the call number for men patients was higher compared to women patients (71% v. 29% during the pre-lockdown period and 61% v. 39% during the lockdown period),” the study read.

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