Background: Extensive cleaning of homes in Israel before Passover may result in increased exposure of children to cleaning substances.
Objectives: To evaluate the potential danger of Passover cleaning to children, and to study the risk factors in order to identify areas for prevention.
Methods: All cases of poison exposure in Jewish and Arab children under the age of 15 years reported to the Israel Poison Information Center during 1990–95 (n= 5,583) were analyzed for the 6 weeks before and 6 weeks after Passover. Poison exposures in Jewish children <15 years old were studied in seven pediatric emergency rooms for the 2 weeks before and 6 weeks after Passover (n=123).
Results: The IPIC data showed a highly significant 38% increase in the average weekly poison exposure rate for the 2 weeks before Passover compared with the remaining 10 weeks. Data recorded by the pediatric emergency rooms showed a twofold increase in cleaning substance poisoning during the 2 weeks before Passover compared with the following 6 weeks. The rise in exposures to cleaning substances was observed among children from secular, religious and ultra-orthodox families. In these exposures, the substance was found in open containers in 70% of cases.
Conclusions: The extensive cleaning of homes among Jewish families in preparation for Passover poses the danger to young children of cleaning substance poisoning. Increasing public awareness, closer observation of children, and keeping these substances in closed containers should increase children’s safety during this annual cleaning.
IPIC = Israel Poison Information Center