You may not know it but hydrocarbons -- substances found in baby oil and in other household products -- pose a serious or even deadly risk to children if ingested into the lungs. Read the following information and protect your child from possible harm from seemingly innocuous household products.
Some of the things that contain hydrocarbons are not products you would normally consider harmful. Baby oil and suntan oil are two such products. Some common household products that contain hydrocarbons are mineral oil based cosmetics like bath oil, creams, lotions, and makeup removers. Other types of products include gasoline additives, motor oil, and waterproofing agents.
If ingested into the lungs, hydrocarbons can coat the lungs and cause tissue damage, pneumonia, and even death. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) finds that products made up of at least 10 percent hydrocarbon, and thin enough to flow freely, are the riskiest. Thicker products are harder to inhale, posing a lower risk.
According to the CPSC, certain brands of consumer products containing hydrocarbons will need to install safety caps on the products. However, not all products containing hydrocarbons will have safety caps -- only those that pose a high risk because of their hydrocarbon content and their ability to flow freely and be inhaled.
Often you can't tell how much hydrocarbon a product contains from the label, or you may not be familiar with a particular chemical and question whether it's a hydrocarbon or not. Contact the manufacturer for more information and keep the product out of your child's reach.
According to the CPSC, parents should review product labels and place baby oil and other products containing hydrocarbons in a locked cabinet where children cannot reach them.
Also, read and implement these basic poison prevention tips from the CPSC in your home:
Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission
Reviewed 2/02 by Jane Forester, MD
The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.