In Italy, the National Poison Control Centre of Milan (PCCM) handles yearly about 22 000 new cases exposed to chemicals (non-pharmaceuticals) at home. Among them, about 8000 (31%) are exposed to cleaning products.1 Aim of the present study is to provide a preliminary characterisation of the accidents related to this group of agents. The PCCM uses a standard form to collect the following main categories of data for each case examined: demographic characteristics; exposure characteristics; clinical effects; therapy; outcomes. The PCCM database was searched to identify and analyse all cases exposed to cleaning agents occurred in Italy in 2005. In the period under study, the PCCM managed 7778 cases exposed to household cleaning agents. About 51% were females and 49% males. Children younger than 5 years accounted 34% of cases. Most of the exposure were unintentional (87%). The main routes of exposure were ingestion (65%) and inhalation (20%). The categories of products most frequently reported were: bleaching with hypochlorite (23%), wall/floor/tile cleaners (18%), ammonia cleaners (11%), hand dishwashing (8%), automatic dishwasher detergents (5%). The observations here reported should be considered as a starting point for further analyses focused on specific chemicals and commercial products.
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