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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

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: Tears, hugs, cheers as U.S. reacts to Chauvin guilty verdict

People react after the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

People across the U.S. rallied into the night Tuesday, cheering, hugging and crying tears of relief after a jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty in the murder of George Floyd.

Driving the news: After Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, Floyd family lawyer Ben Crump tweeted, "GUILTY! Painfully earned justice has finally arrived for George Floyd’s family. ... Justice for Black America is justice for all of America!"

Columbus police officer fatally shoots Black teenage girl

Photo: Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating the fatal police shooting of a Black teenage girl in Columbus on Tuesday afternoon.

Of note: The shooting of the girl, identified by family members as Ma'Khia Bryant, 16, occurred just before the verdict was announced in the Minneapolis murder trial of former officer Derek Chauvin, and as the nation grapples with police reform.

European Super League faces collapse after English soccer teams quit

Fans of Chelsea Football Club protest the European Super League outside Stamford Bridge soccer stadium in London, England. Photo: Rob Pinney/Getty Images

The European Super League announced in a statement Tuesday night it's "proposing a new competition" and considering the next steps after all six English soccer clubs pulled out of the breakaway tournament.

Why it matters: The announcement that 12 of the richest clubs in England, Spain and Italy would start a new league was met with backlash from fans, soccer stars and politicians. The British government had threatened to pass legislation to stop it from going ahead.