This document was created through a collaboration between NPIC and the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
While the end of summer is an exciting time for kids, parents, and educators, it is also a time for an increased risk of illness or injury as students head back to school. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than half of students (ages 5-17) miss 1-5 school days each year due to illness or injury. Studies show that students with more absences have lower scores on national standardized tests. In short, attendance is a key indicator of student academic achievement.
To reduce illness, schools may use cleaning products called "antimicrobials" to kill germs like bacteria and viruses. Antimicrobials play an important role in protecting public health by helping to keep people well enough to work, lowering school absences, and reducing indoor allergens. However, antimicrobials also contain chemicals that may cause serious health problems if used in the wrong way or in the wrong amounts. There are two types of commonly used antimicrobials:
Children are especially sensitive to cleaning chemicals like antimicrobials. Just because using a particular cleaning substance doesn't affect you doesn't mean it won't cause harm to your students. Unsafe behaviors coupled with natural curiosity increase the chances of a child coming into contact with hazardous chemicals. Exposure can happen in multiple ways, including:
The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) and the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) offer a few simple steps to help prevent poisonings at daycare and school:
It is also important to remember that some cleaning products, like bleach and ammonia, can create highly toxic fumes when combined. NEVER mix cleaning chemicals!
For general questions about selecting, storing, using, or disposing of insect repellents, antimicrobials, and other pesticides, call NPIC at (800) 858-7378.
The best way for teachers and caregivers to be prepared in the event of any poisoning emergency is to save the contact information for poison control into their smartphones simply by texting "POISON" to 797979. Also, make sure to display the contact information for poison control throughout your daycare or school, in case of emergency.
If you have questions about this, or any pesticide-related topic, please call NPIC at 800-858-7378 (8:00am - 12:00pm PST), or email us at email@example.com.