Poison Control Calls Soar After Trump's Disinfectant Comments

by Julie Scagell
US President Donald Trump speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, which causes CO...

States like New York, Illinois, and Michigan are begging people not to ingest cleaning products

Poison control centers are doing damage control days after Trump asked medical experts if disinfectants used to kill the coronavirus on surfaces could work if, you know, maybe people could inject them.

Just days after President Donald Trump asked out loud during a press conference whether ingesting household cleaners could help treat or avoid coronavirus infections, states are reporting unusually high volumes of calls to poison control centers, because of course.

In New York, the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said that in an 18-hour period ending Friday afternoon, the poison control center recorded 30 cases, including nine “specifically about exposure to Lysol, 10 cases specifically about bleach and 11 cases about exposures to other household cleaners,” department spokesperson Pedro Frisneda told NPR. During that same time frame one year prior the department took just 13 calls.

“I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute,” Trump said during his press conference last week. “And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning? As you see, it gets in the lungs, it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.”

New York City’s health commissioner also released a message discouraging its citizens from injecting bleach. “Very clearly, disinfectants are not intended for ingestion either by mouth, by ears, by breathing them in — in any way, shape or form,” said Dr. Oxiris Barbot in a video posted to Twitter. “And doing so can put people at great risk.”

Lysol and Clorox also weighed in after Trump’s remarks. “As a global leader in health and hygiene products, we must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route),” said Reckitt Benckiser, the company that makes Lysol, adding that its cleaning products should only be “used as intended and in line with usage guidelines.”

Trump tried walking back his remarks the next day, saying that he was just kidding, that it was said in jest to reporters. “I was asking a sarcastic — and a very sarcastic question — to the reporters in the room about disinfectant on the inside,” Trump said. “But it does kill it, and it would kill it on the hands and that would make things much better. That was done in the form of a sarcastic question to the reporters.” Sure, dude. That seems like an appropriate time to “be sarcastic.”

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike issued a similar statement to residents after they began receiving an influx of calls. Michigan has also done the same. “There has been a significant increase in calls to the Illinois Poison Control Center in association with exposure to cleaning agents [since Thursday],” Ezike said, according to NBC Chicago.

h/t: Refinery29