A new type of spray bottle could prevent the thousands of chemical injuries that occur yearly when children get their hands on household cleaners and accidentally spray themselves, its inventors say.
The child-proof spray bottle has not only a forward-facing trigger under the nozzle — as do other spray bottles — but also has a second trigger, jetting out from the back. Both triggers must be pressed for the liquid to be dispensed.
Adult hands are big enough to squeeze both triggers at once, but children's hands are not, said Lara McKenzie, a researcher at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio who was involved in creating the new design.
While some spray bottles have nozzles that turn and function as on/off switches, children can manipulate these nozzles, McKenzie said.
The new bottle could prevent the 6,000 childhood injuries involving spray bottles each year, she added.
McKenzie and her colleagues had conducted a study on the injuries from household cleaners that send children to the emergency department. The study showed that, while injuries from all household cleaners decreased 46 percent over the last 20 years, injuries from spray bottles remained constant.
In fact, spray bottles were found accountable for about 40 percent of all injuries from household cleaners between 1990 and 2006. The study was published in 2010 in the journal Pediatrics.
The researchers "realized that there were no spray bottles on the market that would be both easy for adults to use and hard for children to get into, so we came up with our own design," McKenzie said. [Watch video: How the spray bottle prevents children's injuries]
Household cleaners can cause poisoning, chemical burns, dermatitis (swollen, reddened skin) and other injuries. When a spray bottle was involved in a child's injuries, the child was 18 times more likely to have external contact with the chemical (rather than ingestion or inhalation), and 13 times more likely to have eye injuries than other types of injuries, the study found.
McKenzie and colleagues worked with researchers in Ohio State University's departments of design and engineering to come up with the new spray bottle design. After a person releases the triggers, the mechanism "relocks" automatically — there's nothing you have to do to lock it, McKenzie said.
The researchers have filed for a patent on their design and are looking for a partner, such as a spray bottle manufacturer or a cleaning product company, to license their product, McKenzie said.
"We're anxious to see this product on the shelves so we can have an impact and reduce injures and keep kids safe," McKenzie said.
Pass it on: A new spray bottle is designed to reduce childhood injuries from household cleaners.
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Rachael is a Live Science contributor, and was a former channel editor and senior writer for Live Science between 2010 and 2022. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.