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Injuries related to barbecue brush bristle ingestion/inhalation Published: ()

Injuries related to barbecue brush bristle ingestion/inhalation continue to be a public health concern. This common household item can pose a health risk to individuals, as metal bristles can detach from the brush and remain on the grill. If left unnoticed, these metal bristles can then be transferred to food and be consumed. Though rare, these injuries can result in serious health complications.

The numbers presented below are an updated analysis of such injuries using the Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program (CHIRPP) surveillance system. The original analyses appeared in the October 2017 issue of the Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention journal (Volume 37 No. 10).


38 emergency department visits

Incidents are still being detected. Between April 1, 2011 and July 14, 2022, there were 38 reported cases of injuries related to barbecue brush bristle ingestion/inhalation, representing 2.2 cases/100,000 CHIRPP records. Table 1 presents the annual distribution of injuries related to barbecue brush bristle ingestion/inhalation captured in the CHIRPP database.

Table 1. Annual distribution of injuries related to barbecue brush bristle ingestion/inhalation - Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program
Year Count Count per 100,000 CHIRPP records
2011 1 1.1
2012 3 2.3
2013 1 0.7
2014 1 0.7
2015 1 0.7
2016 3 2.0
2017 8 4.8
2018 4 2.1
2019 7 3.8
2020 6 3.6
2021 2 1.1
2022 1 2.0

Findings

  • Overall, males and females were equally represented – 19 cases among males and 19 among females.
  • Of the 38 cases identified, 14 cases (36.8%) sustained injuries requiring hospital admission.
  • Injuries related to barbecue brush bristle ingestion/inhalation affect all age groups (see Table 2)

Table 2. Case count of injuries related to barbecue brush bristle ingestion/inhalation by age group - Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program
Age Group (years) Count
1 to 4 6
5 to 9 12
10 to 14 8
15 to 29 5
30 and over 7


Four seasons

Injuries related to barbecue brush bristle ingestion/inhalation don’t just happen in the summer; they happen throughout the year.



Respiratory and digestive tract

Most injuries involved a metal bristle imbedding into an individual’s respiratory or digestive tract.



Sample Narratives

The actual number of individuals who have experienced injuries related to barbecue brush bristle ingestion/inhalation is unknown, as some might seek care at facilities other than emergency departments or might not seek care at all.

Sample narratives of the injuries reported to CHIRPP are listed below and are reported in the language of the patient’s own account of events. These include:


Prevention

Caution should be exercised when using metal bristle barbecue brushes due to the potential health and safety risks associated with metal bristles detaching and adhering to grills or cooked food items. To minimize the risk of issues with your metal bristle barbecue brush, you should:

For more information on barbecue brush safety and recall updates, please visit Healthy Canadians.


Voluntary safety standard

In an effort to reduce the health risks associated with metal bristle barbecue brushes, Health Canada and the Retail Council of Canada commissioned the Standards Council of Canada to develop new national voluntary safety standards for such products. A public review of the draft safety standard was conducted in the summer of 2019 and the "CSA Z630:19 Barbecue grill brushes" standard was released in December 2019.

The "CSA Z630:19 Barbecue grill brushes" standard provides requirements for the performance, testing, and marking of hand-held barbecue grill brushes with metal bristles and replacement heads.

The standard specifies requirements for:

Although the "CSA Z630:19 Barbecue grill brushes" standard is a voluntary standard, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada continue to monitor incidents and injuries due to metal barbecue grill brushes.


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