Hydrogen peroxide is a colorless, odorless liquid typically at household concentrations of 3% to 5%. It is a weak acid (PKA 11.75) and a strong oxidizer. At this strength, it is commonly using for wound irrigation, hair treatment, and other cosmetic purposes. Household-concentration peroxide is wide as safe; with the rare case of harm after massive ingestion or irrigation under pressure.
In contrast, a much greater danger is posed by exposures to high-concentration peroxide (>10%). Peroxide at this concentration is most often in commercial settings; stored in bulk for dilution to household strength often with a label of “food grade hydrogen peroxide,” or as part of complementary or alternative medicine therapy.
Emergency departments for medicine
The number of children younger than age 6 years treated at U.S. emergency departments for medicine poisonings has declined in recent years, but there were still nearly 52,000 cases in 2017. That is an average of 142 cases per day or one every 10 minutes. Between 2010 and 2016, such emergency department visits fell 32 % and the number of calls to poison control centers decreased by 20 %.
As part of their report, the authors interviewed 42 parents in Maryland and found that medicine safety was not a top priority when they childproofed their homes; often because they believed they had stored medicine in safe places such as cabinets or closets. The authors said parents should add medicine safety to their childproofing task list; keep all medicines and vitamins out of children’s reach and sight; save poison control numbers on their phones and post them in a visible place at home.
“It is easy to look at your beautiful; newborn baby and think that he is not going anywhere anytime soon; believing you still have plenty of time to childproof your home. “But they have learned from our research that parents are all too often by how quickly their babies grow and change. That’s why it’s so important to start life-saving habits; like safe medicine storage, well before your baby is on the move.”
The current human literature surrounding high concentration peroxide ingestions is scant and to case reports and single case series. Recent case reports from the past 10 years range from cerebral embolism treated successfully or unsuccessfully with hyperbaric oxygen to portal venous gas observed without systemic embolism treated with or observed without hyperbaric oxygen5 to acute myocardial infarction with negative cardiac catheterization results. The largest published case series represents the experience of a single center with an aggressive protocol calling for screening CT of the abdomen and immediate hyperbaric oxygen therapy for positive findings of portal gas.