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Cover page of the Journal of Health Sciences


 
 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 260-264

Awareness and attitude toward household poisons among medical and nonmedical students: A comparative study


Chennai Medical College Hospital and Research Centre, Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication25-Sep-2018

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Ashutosh Baliram Potdar
Chennai Medical College Hospital and Research Centre, Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/kleuhsj.kleuhsj_137_17

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  Abstract 


INTRODUCTION: There are innumerable things we use in our household on day-to-day basis. Many things that we use at home from cleaning products to cosmetics are toxic when we are not careful about them.
OBJECTIVES: The study is carried out to assess and to compare the awareness and attitude of medical and nonmedical students toward household poisons and to bring awareness among the students and general public about household poisons.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A questionnaire containing 40 questions were given to the study category of students (300 students, 150 medical and 150 nonmedical), tabulated, and analyzed using SPSS 17.
RESULTS: Eighty-five percent medical students and 34.7% nonmedical students are aware of the hazards caused by household poisons. Even though an awareness should be created to bring about further change in their attitude toward household poisons especially among the nonmedical students.
CONCLUSION: In the present study, 84% medical students and 83% nonmedical students said that awareness about household poisons should be added in the academic curriculum. This will provide a pathway for health education to broaden a change of attitude toward household poisons.

Keywords: Household poisons, medical students, nonmedical students, poison


How to cite this article:
Priyanka D, Pawar GS, Pawar JG, Potdar AB. Awareness and attitude toward household poisons among medical and nonmedical students: A comparative study. Indian J Health Sci Biomed Res 2018;11:260-4

How to cite this URL:
Priyanka D, Pawar GS, Pawar JG, Potdar AB. Awareness and attitude toward household poisons among medical and nonmedical students: A comparative study. Indian J Health Sci Biomed Res [serial online] 2018 [cited 2018 Dec 15];11:260-4. Available from: http://www.ijournalhs.org/text.asp?2018/11/3/260/242036




  Introduction Top


There are so many things we use in our household in our day-to-day basis. Many of us know that they are poisons and are potentially dangerous for our lives.[1] Everything that we use at home from cleaning products to cosmetics, cooking fuel, the paint used, the water we drink, etc. are toxic when we are not careful about them.[2] Repeated exposure to household poisons is linked to just about every disease that we know of, most notably cancer.[3] Many household poisons have also been linked to mental and physical developmental problems.[4] They have a dangerous effect on cardiovascular system, nervous system, endocrine, respiratory, reproductive and immune system, etc.[5] Even the fruits and vegetables we eat today are adulterated and coated with pesticides and insecticides and cause many health problems.[6] India is a developing country and asbestos is the major building material used which causes mesothelioma and respiratory problems.[7] Most of the households use solid fuels such as wood, charcoal, biogas, which emit health damaging pollutant products due to incomplete combustion which not only cause serious health problems but also serious environmental pollution which in turn causes health hazards.[8] The cleaning products and personal care products are a major source of xenobiotic organic compounds in wastewater.[9] The most common way to dispose leftover medicines now days is through the garbage, and this finally lands up in landfills with the potential to be discharged into the environment and some of which percolates into the ground taps the groundwater and thus is a major cause of water pollution.[10] These poisons such as leftover medicine, cleaning products, and cooking fuel-like kerosene are kept in common places at home where they are accessible to children and thus cause unintentional household poisoning in children.[11] Cell phones have become preferred channel of basic communication from children to adults and the use has increased so much over the years that people use the phones all the time, even when it is charging and the cell phones are left beside even while sleeping. The cell phones emit radiations which cause serious damage to health.[12] Because we are unable to feel, see, smell or taste many household poisons at first contact, it is important to be aware of the most common household poisons and to proactively take measures to prevent or reduce our exposure to them.[13] This study is conducted among medical students and nonmedical students to compare their knowledge, awareness, and attitude they have toward these houses hold poisons.

Objectives

  1. To assess and to compare the awareness and attitude of medical and nonmedical students towards household poisons
  2. To bring awareness among the students and the general public about household poisons.



  Materials and Methods Top


This is a cross-sectional study carried out for 3 months in the Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology of a Medical college in South India.

Inclusion criteria

Students of both sexes age ranging from 18 to 21 years from different colleges (300 students 150 studying in a medical college and 150 from a nonmedical college Engineering, Degree collages).

Exclusion criteria

Students those who are not willing to participate were excluded from the study.

Institutional ethics committee certificate

The research proposal was presented before independent Ethics Committee (IEC), and the certificate was received from the IEC committee.

Informed consent

Informed consent obtained from the students participating in the survey. All the study participants were subjected to self-administered questionnaire. The questionnaire consisted of 9 open questions and 31 close questions. Information obtained through the questionnaires was analyzed and tabulated using the statistical software SPSS Statistics 17.0 for Windows Student Version.


  Results and Discussion Top


As shown in [Table 1], the percentage of awareness about household poisons is higher in medical students (85.3%) when compared to the nonmedical students (34.7%) according to a survey conducted by Martin et al. awareness among general public is only (25%).[8]
Table 1: General awareness about the presence of toxic substances at home among medical and nonmedical students

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The awareness about asbestos as a household toxin is 63.3% among medicos and 61.3 among nonmedical students as seen in [Table 2]. It is almost equal but still, asbestos is used as a building material abundantly in our country causing respiratory illness and lung cancer.
Table 2: Awareness and attitude about asbestos as a house hold toxin among medical and nonmedical students

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[Table 3]a shows that awareness about the presence of lead in paint is 86.7% among medical students and 11.3% among nonmedical students. Nearly 13.3% medicos and 84% nonmedicos are not aware of the fact that paint contains lead which is the major cause for asthma and wheezing today. In the study by Woolf et al. is 20% of general public has the awareness.[6]
Table 3a: Awareness about the presence of lead in paint and presence of lead in drinking water
Table 3b: Awareness about the presence of lead in paint and presence of lead in drinking water



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As seen in [Table 3]b awareness about the presence of lead in drinking water is 60% in medical students and 48.7% in nonmedical students. Moreover, the water is contaminated with lead by passing through the lead pipes and though the effluents from industries as answered by the medicos'. While nonmedicos' are not aware by which way is the water getting contaminated? In the study by Karagas et al. it is only 28%.[14]

Nearly 92% medical students and 82.7% nonmedical students are aware of the coating of pesticides on fruits and vegetables as shown in [Table 4]. While 94% of medicos and 86% nonmedicos wash fruits and vegetables before consumption.
Table 4: Awareness about the coating of fruits and vegetables with pesticides

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[Table 5] shows that 100% medical students are aware of the harmful effects of expired medicine while only 69.3% of nonmedical students are aware. In the study by Gotz and Keil, awareness is 40%.[15] The study even suggests that the method of disposing expired medicine by medical students is by putting it in a ziplock bag and then throwing it while the nonmedical students dispose the medicine by flushing it down the toilet or into the dustbin. The point which is to be brought to light is that: Some nonmedical students answered by saying they do not dispose expired medicine but they store them and crush them, and the powder is used on wounds.
Table 5: Awareness on the harmful effects of expired medicine

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About 70% of medical students are aware while 50.7% of nonmedical students are aware of the fact that household cleaning products are toxic to health when not used properly as seen in [Table 6]. Awareness about cleaning products as poisons if not used properly is more among the medical students when compared with nonmedical students. A study conducted by health and safety authority in 2007 was 31% and 40% in 2012.[16] About 94% medical students say they always read the “warning labels” on the containers of cleaning products while only 80% of nonmedicos do so. Nearly 81.3% medicos use gloves while 75.3% nonmedicos use gloves while using cleaning products. About 100% medical students and 81.3% nonmedicos wash hands after application of cleaning products. These products are stores in the backyard or store room away from reach of children (4.7%) as put forth by the medical students. While most of the nonmedicos said that they store these products in the kitchen and veranda. About 32% said that the cleaning products are in close to children. Medicos are well aware of the health problems that can be caused by these cleaning products such as contact dermatitis and respiratory illnesses. While awareness has still to be spread among nonmedical students.
Table 6: Awareness about cleaning products as poisons

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As per [Table 7] Nearly 72% of medical and 58.7% nonmedical students think that cosmetics are toxic and can cause health hazards. In a study conducted by Tseng et al., it is 45% among general public.[17] The use of cosmetics can cause serious health problems such as skin cancer, dermatitis, pigmentation, allergy, alopecia, respiratory illness, etc. as stated by most of the medical students under this study. While there is lack of awareness among nonmedical students.
Table 7: Awareness on cosmetics as household poisons

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Cooking fuel can cause upper respiratory tract infections and even cause serious air pollution due to incomplete combustion of the solid fuels as seen in [Table 8]. About 39.3% medical students' and 4.7% nonmedical students are aware of this. Awareness among medicos also must be increased. In a study conducted by Adler awareness is only 2%.[18] While the rest are not aware of the fact. The gases released from the incomplete combustion should be driven away using exhaust fans and chimneys. About 72% medicos and 74% nonmedicos have exhaust fans in their house. But still, awareness about cooking fuels causing upper respiratory tract infections is the need of the hour.
Table 8: Awareness on cooking fuel as a household toxin

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Nearly 100% medical students and 88.7% nonmedical students are aware that the electronic gadgets such as cell phone emit radiations which cause serious health hazards as shown in [Table 9]. In a study conducted by Anuj Shah et al., the awareness was 61%.[19] But still, 40.8% medicos and 59.3% nonmedicos sleep with their cell phones beside them. Moreover, 46% medical students and 55% nonmedical students talk on the phone when it is charging.
Table 9: Awareness of radiations emitted from cell phones

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As per [Table 10]a, About 34.7% medical students and 20.7% nonmedical students are aware of first-aid procedures in poisoning while there is a need to create awareness among the rest. About 88.7% medicos and 94% of nonmedicos are willing to learn about the first-aid procedures in case of poisoning as per this study.
Table 10a: Knowledge of first-aid procedures in poisoning and awareness about poison information center
Table 10b: Knowledge of first-aid procedures in poisoning and awareness about poison information center



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As per [Table 10]b, anawareness about poison information center is alarmingly less among nonmedical students is 12% and an awareness should be created to improve the situation. Rajinder et al. conducted a study in Maharashtra which shows only 5% are aware in household setup.[20]

While in case of poisoning, most of the medicos and nonmedicos know whom to approach but still 10% nonmedical students do not know whom to approach for treatment as seen in [Table 11].
Table 11: Whom to approach in case of poisoning

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  Conclusion Top


This study has created awareness of health hazards related to household poisons among students. In accordance to the study, 84% medical students and 83% nonmedical students said that awareness about household poisons should be added in the academic curriculum. This will provide a pathway for health education to broaden a change of attitude toward household poisons and adoption of toxin free-living or at least minimize the exposure by adopting safety measures. Nearly 88% medicos and 99% nonmedical students said that this survey is likely to make their house a safe place to live in. It will help to conduct special programs on healthy living for young students who will be the pillars of the future ecofriendly world.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

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Konradsen F, van der Hoek W, Cole DC, Hutchinson G, Daisley H, Singh S, et al. Reducing acute poisoning in developing countries – Options for restricting the availability of pesticides. Toxicology 2003;192:249-61.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Chapman RS, Mumford JL, He XZ, Harris DB, Yang RD, Jiang WZ. Assessing indoor air pollution exposure and lung cancer risk in Xuan-Wei, China. J Am College Toxicol 1989;8:941-8.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Ramisetty-Mikler S, Mains D, René A. Poisoning hospitalizations among Texas adolescents: Age and gender differences in intentional and unintentional injury. Tex Med 2005;101:64-71.0  Back to cited text no. 3
    
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Vale JA. Position statement: Gastric lavage. American Academy of Clinical Toxicology; European Association of Poisons Centres and Clinical Toxicologists. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol 1997;35:711-9.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
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Tindimwebwa G, Dambisya YM. When is it herbal intoxication? A retrospective study of children admitted with herbal intoxication at Umtata General Hospital, South Africa. Cent Afr J Med 2003;49:111-4.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Woolf AD, Lovejoy FH Jr. Prevention of childhood poisonings. In: Haddad LM, Shannon MW, Winchester JF, editors. Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders; 1998. p. 300-6.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Racioppi F, Daskaleros PA, Besbelli N, Borges A, Deraemaeker C, Magalini SI, et al. Household bleaches based on sodium hypochlorite: Review of acute toxicology and poison controlcenter experience. Food Chem Toxicol 1994;32:845-61.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Martin CJ, Platt SD, Hunt SM. Housing conditions and ill health. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;294:1125-7.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Abahussain EA, Ball DE. Disposal of unwanted medicines from households in Kuwait. Pharm World Sci 2007;29:368-73.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
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Ankley GT, Jensen KM, Kahl MD, Korte JJ, Makynen EA. Description and evaluation of a short-term reproduction test with the fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas). Environ Toxicol Chem 2001;20:1276-90.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Ashton D, Hilton M, Thomas KV. Investigating the environmental transport of human pharmaceuticals to streams in the United Kingdom. Sci Total Environ 2004;333:167-84.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.
Barnes KK, Christenson SC, Kolpin DW, Focazio M, Furlong ET, Zaugg SD, et al. Pharmaceuticals and other organic waste water contaminants within a leachate plume downgradient of a municipal landfill. Ground Water Monit Remediat 2004;24:119-26.  Back to cited text no. 12
    
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Batt AL, Bruce IB, Aga DS. Evaluating the vulnerability of surface waters to antibiotic contamination from varying wastewater treatment plant discharges. Environ Pollut 2006;142:295-302.  Back to cited text no. 13
    
14.
Karagas MR, Morris JS, Weiss JE, Spate V, Baskett C, Greenberg ER, et al. Toenail samples as an indicator of drinking water arsenic exposure. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 1996;5:849-52.  Back to cited text no. 14
    
15.
Gotz K, Keil F. Drug disposal in private households: Does the disposal of pharmaceuticals via domestic sanitary devices contribute to water contamination? Z Umweltchem Okotox 2007;19:180-8.  Back to cited text no. 15
    
16.
Rabbitte L. Survey of Chemical Usage in Irish Workplaces. Health and Safety Authority. Final Report 2012. p. 51.   Back to cited text no. 16
    
17.
Tseng WP, Chu HM, How SW, Fong JM, Lin CS, Yeh S, et al. Prevalence of skin cancer in an endemic area of chronic arsenicism in Taiwan. J Natl Cancer Inst 1968;40:453-63.  Back to cited text no. 17
    
18.
Adler T. Better burning, better breathing: Improving health with cleaner cook stoves. Environ Health Perspect 2010;118:A 124-9.  Back to cited text no. 18
    
19.
Shah A. An Assessment of Public Awareness Regarding E-Waste Hazards and Management Strategies. Available from: http://digitalcollections.sit.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2832&context=isp_collection. Accessed on 21st Jan 2017.  Back to cited text no. 19
    
20.
Rajinder K, Walia I, Kaur B. An operational study on maintenance of first aid box by families of a rural community. Nurs Midwifery Res J 2007;3:1-19.  Back to cited text no. 20
    



 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5], [Table 6], [Table 7], [Table 8], [Table 9], [Table 10], [Table 11]



 

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