Household cleaning products leading cause of hospitalisations

20 June 2019

Under fives continue to have the highest rate of hospitalisations from hazardous substances, according to the Environmental Protection Authority’s latest annual hazardous substances monitoring report. 

The HSNO Monitoring Report 2018 covers the period from 2006 to 2016, and includes data on hospitalisations and deaths from hazardous substances. 

EPA General Manager of Hazardous Substances Dr Fiona Thomson-Carter says it is encouraging to see that the total number of hospitalisations relating to hazardous substances has decreased by 17 percent over the 10 year period covered, while New Zealand’s population increased by around 12 percent. 

“However, children under the age of five have consistently had the highest rate of hospitalisation, with the majority of incidents occurring in the home.

“Out of all hazardous substances, ‘cleaning products’ had the highest number of hospitalisation cases.

“Chemicals should always be locked up and out of sight of children - something we promote through our Safer Homes programme.

"We also issued a Caution Notice earlier this year, reminding householders of the importance of reading and understanding the labels on hazardous substances, to keep themselves and others safe.”

The report also found that: 

  • From 2006 to 2014, people in the age group 15 to 24 years had the highest number of deaths attributed to hazardous substances.

  • Around 29 percent of clinical notes for unintentional deaths have indicated that the cause of death included toxicity from intentional inhalation of hazardous substances (huffing).

  • Over the past 10 years the use of most ozone-depleting substances has significantly reduced, except for an increase in the use of methyl bromide for export and biosecurity purposes.

  • Over a period of eight years (2008 to 2016), the size of 1080 treatment areas in hectares has slowly declined. Exceptions were in 2014 and 2016, coinciding with beech mast events. 

Read the 2018 HSNO Monitoring Report