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[an error occurred while processing this directive] A Hadassah Holiday Feature
Hadassah Doctor Advises Public To Avoid Health Hazards Of Passover Cleaning

Hadassah Holiday Feature
March 16, 2001

Jerusalem --According to a Hadassah physician, the dangers of Passover cleaning are well known among medical professionals but not among the general public. But, he advises, easy safety precautions make a big difference in avoiding health hazards.

Prof. Yona Amitai, a senior toxicologist at Hadassah-University Hospital on Jerusalem's Mt. Scopus says that "the number of accidental poisonings of children from cleaning fluid triples during the two or three weeks before Passover, and poisonings from all other causes doubles, compared to the rest of the year."

Amitai, president of the Israel Toxicology Society, conducted a study in recent years on Passover cleaning hazards with Dr. Yedidya Bentur of the National Poison Control Center in Haifa. Based on data from seven emergency rooms, the study found that in Israel, the number of pre-Passover poisoning incidents swells in both secular and religious Jewish homes, but not in Arab ones.

Amitai urges the public to be especially careful with liquid drain cleaners, and never to mix bleach with acids. Such combinations, he said, can cause a blinding explosion or toxic vapors that can trigger asthma attacks, cause shortness of breath and even lung damage, especially in small rooms with poor ventilation, such as bathrooms. Never transfer cleaning materials to empty food containers; and be careful of cleaning fluids that look like fruit syrup or smell like perfume and can easily be confused, he said.

Amitai advises parents to be extra cautious when cleaning out the medicine chest before Passover, ensuring that drugs taken out of the cabinet do not end up in the hands of youngsters. For parents with infants and toddlers, never leave pails full of water or cleaning fluid on the floor, he says.

If a child accidentally ingests cleaning material or kerosene, do not instigate vomiting, he cautions: dilute the poison by giving water or milk and call a doctor or poison control center immediately.

Founded in 1912, Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America is the largest women's and largest Jewish membership organization in the United States. In Israel, it supports medical care and research, education, and youth institutions, and reforestation and parks projects. In the US, Hadassah promotes health education, social action and advocacy, volunteerism, Jewish education and research, and connections with Israel.


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