Summertime Chemical Injuries

Ideally, children should be able to enjoy their months-long summer break from school without worrying about various injuries. However, according to a 2013 report, a surprising source of summertime injuries is a chemical compound known as hydrocarbons.

Number Crunching

Hydrocarbons are found in many items, including baby oil, suntan oil and various creams and lotions. They are also present in motor oil and gasoline additives. A collaborative study, conducted by Central Ohio Poison Center and the Center for Injury Research, concluded that injuries related to hydrocarbons increase notably during the summer season.

For their research, the authors documented the number of ER visits and calls to poison centers related to hydrocarbons. They found that hydrocarbons were responsible for approximately 40,000 emergency department visits over the report’s study period, which spanned one full decade. Over the same time frame, roughly 66,000 calls were made to regional poison centers due to hydrocarbon exposure.

A Threat to Infants

Perhaps most alarmingly, the report found that the demographic groups most susceptible to such injuries were boys, along with children between the ages of one and two. The item identified as most frequently the cause of ER visits and poison center calls was gasoline; as you would likely suspect, children’s exposure to gasoline occurred while vehicles were being refueled.

On the positive side, not all of the reports findings were cause for concern. “The good news is that the number of injuries has declined significantly between 2000 and 2009 because of changes in packaging laws and public awareness,” stated Heath Jolliff, a study co-author and associate medical director for the Central Ohio Poison Center. However, Jolliff also noted that “more children are poisoned from hydrocarbons because of incidents at home, demonstrating a greater need for preventive education for parents.”

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