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Don’t store household chemicals in drink bottles – CARPIN

Published:Thursday | March 14, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Sherika Whitelocke-Ballingsingh

The Caribbean Poison Information Network (CARPIN) continues to implore the public to desist from storing household chemicals in drink bottles.

Poison Information Coordinator, Sherika Whitelocke-Ballingsingh, said that despite a sustained public-education campaign, particularly over the last 10 years, warning parents against storing chemicals in containers that look like they could house food or drink products, the problem persists, contributing to cases of accidental poisoning among children.

She noted that bleach is among the common agents to which children are being exposed.

Whitelocke-Ballingsingh provided details of a University of Technology-funded study that looked at the use of chemicals within the home and how behaviour, knowledge, and storage patterns determine how children zero to five years old are poisoned in Jamaica.

The study was conducted among households in the parishes of St Thomas, Kingston, St Catherine and Westmoreland.

Whitelocke-Ballingsingh explained that the decision was taken “to do a qualitative study and get into the homes to speak to parents, look at their environment, and to see what was happening in the homes that was contributing to the high rate of poisoning among children”.

“From the poison centre’s perspective, we wanted to know more about what it is that is causing children to constantly be exposed to these chemicals even though there are public-education programmes out there,” she added.

She said that a common factor throughout 90 per cent of the homes was the containers in which the chemicals are being stored.

“Many people in Jamaica buy particular types of chemicals in bottles that are inappropriate,” Whitelocke-Ballingsingh pointed out, noting that this was found to occur across all socio-economic groups.

“We have found that many persons purchase retail chemicals in gallon bottles that look like water bottles,” she said, noting that this includes bleach, disinfectants and sanitisers.

“Some of the chemicals are also infused with fruity flavours and are stored in bottles that look like they were made for syrup,” she said.