SEATTLE, Dec. 8, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- In two new data Dashboards, the Washington Poison Center (WAPC) reports nicotine and cannabis exposures during 2020. This data is particularly relevant amidst concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on substance use, especially with substances that are readily available. Both Dashboards note a continuation of historical trends—a decrease in overall nicotine exposures and increase in overall cannabis exposures. This is both encouraging and concerning: certain substance-related policies, prevention, and harm reduction strategies may be contributing to preventing exposures during this challenging time. However, any exposure is concerning, and trends may shift as both the policy landscape and individual experiences with COVID-19 continue to change.
Both Dashboards compare poison exposures during the first 9 months of 2020 (January 1 – September 30) to those in the first 9 months of 2019.
- Nicotine exposures in children ages 0-5 years decreased 27%. In 2020, 245 pediatric cases were due to ingestion, primarily of raw tobacco. Exposures to vape products were less common (68 pediatric cases), but were of greater clinical concern, due to the toxicity of liquid nicotine.
- At least one-third of all vape product exposures involved flavored products. Among exposures in children ages 0-5 years specifically, at least half involved flavored products.
- THC (the main chemical compound contributing to cannabis intoxication) exposures increased 44% in children ages 0-5 years. Most of these exposures were accidents with unsecured products. Exposures in adults ages 21-59 increased 20%, and were mainly due to intentional abuse (use to become "high").
- Nearly half of all THC exposures involved edible formulations.
"The concerning and ongoing trends we are seeing with cannabis and nicotine further demonstrate the Washington Poison Center's essential services: both the free Poison Helpline for emergencies, and public education programs focused on prevention and harm reduction. These are services NO other agency in WA state provides," says Erica Liebelt MD, WAPC Executive and Medical Director.
Always store products out of sight and out of reach of children, and preferably locked up. For additional prevention and harm reduction education, contact [email protected]. For any emergencies with nicotine or cannabis, call the WAPC's Poison Helpline at 1-800-222-1222.
The Washington Poison Center's Poison Helpline (1-800-222-1222) is available 24/7/365, and is staffed by nurses and pharmacists with expert-level training in toxicology. The Poison Helpline provides free, confidential, and immediate treatment advice on poisonings, drug overdoses, and toxic exposures.
SOURCE Washington Poison Center