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A basket of smaller bottles of hand sanitizer for sale in Washington, D.C. in early March. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Hand sanitizer is everywhere because of the coronavirus, but that has led to an unexpected side effect: a big spike in calls to poison control hotlines from parents whose children have ingested hand sanitizer.

Why it matters: Hand sanitizer products are 60–70% ethyl alcohol, which can be toxic to young children even in small amounts.

By the numbers: The number of inquiries to the online Poison Control portal have doubled since the fall, said Dr. Kelly Johnson-Arbor, medical toxicologist and co-medical director at the National Capital Poison Control Center.

  • The portal is receiving an average of 12 online hand sanitizer-related queries a day, she said.
  • Hand sanitizer-related phone inquiries are up 22% over the past two weeks, compared to the same period last year, for the National Capital Poison Center, which covers D.C., Northern Virginia, and Montgomery and Prince George's counties in Maryland.

What to watch: The absolute numbers may seem small, but Johnson-Arbor said she expects to see them continue to rise as school closures keep kids at home, where they'll likely have access to hand sanitizer products.

  • "You'll have a lot more children at home among the toxic products that are already there," Johnson-Arbor said. "It's on the counter now and more readily available."

Between the lines: Some hand sanitizers are infused with scents, which can prompt curious children to taste them. While the bitter taste will discourage most kids from ingesting too much, just a teaspoon or a few squirts can be dangerous for toddlers and babies, Johnson-Arbor said.

  • Homemade hand sanitizers can also be dangerous.

If someone is dizzy, drowsy or acting odd after ingesting hand sanitizer, it's probably best to head to an emergency room.

More information: WebPoisonControl.org or call 1-800-222-1222.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
3 hours ago - World

Courage vs. coddling with China

Peng Shuai of China serves during the China Open in Beijing in 2017. Photo: Andy Wong/AP

The women's professional tennis tour suspended tournaments in China Wednesday out of concern for Peng Shuai, on the same day that a top business voice made excuses for Beijing.

Why it matters: Ahead of February's Winter Olympics in Beijing, some sports figures are taking on the regime — while Big Business shrinks from confrontation with the world's second-largest economy.

3 hours ago - Sports

What to know about the first MLB lockout since 1995

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Hope you enjoyed the recent flurry of free-agent activity, because it's likely the last non-lockout-related MLB news for a while.

Driving the news: The owners locked out the players after the collective bargaining agreement expired at midnight last night, leading to MLB's ninth work stoppage — and first since 1995.

Biden extends mask mandates for travelers into 2022

President Biden delivers remarks at the White House on Dec. 1. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

President Biden will announce new testing protocols for international travelers on Thursday and extend masking requirements through March as the U.S. prepares to fight the Omicron variant this winter, according to senior administration officials.

Driving the news: The U.S. will tighten pre-departure testing protocols starting early next week by requiring all inbound international travelers to take COVID-19 tests within one day of their departure rather than three.