Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Minister Nick Smith reveals he was hospitalised after using paint stripper as mouth wash

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith outlined the incident in releasing a report on injuries from hazardous substances today. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith outlined the incident in releasing a report on injuries from hazardous substances today. Photo / Mark Mitchell

A Government minister has revealed he was hospitalised after using paint stripper as mouth wash.

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith outlined the incident in releasing a report on injuries from hazardous substances today.

Since 2006, child hospitalisations as a result of hazardous substances injuries have dropped 40 per cent from 163 a year to 96.

Dr Smith said that, despite that trend, there were still too many people injured.

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"The greatest risks are from common hazardous substances such as petrol, soap powder, household cleaners, garden sprays and paint products.

"This issue is quite personal for me, in that I inadvertently used paint stripper as mouth wash when a tradesperson accidentally left the product in the bathroom of my Wellington flat.

"The injury burned my throat and vocal chords, leading to my only ever hospital treatment."

Dr Smith said the key to reducing injuries was ensuring dangerous products were stored and labelled appropriately.

"Toddlers are still the most vulnerable, with injury rates three times that of other age groups. Many injuries occur because products such as petrol, dishwashing powder and oven cleaner are left within reach of young children."

Housing New Zealand and the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) are to partner in a new project that will ensure homes have safe storage for hazardous substances.

- NZ Herald

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