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The Hong Kong Poison Information Center has urged the public to be careful when using water repellent shoe spray after a man suffered from chemical pneumonitis last year,

At its annual briefing on Wednesday, the government department shared the case of a 40-year-old man who had applied water repellent shoe spray on his sports shoes for 15 minutes in an enclosed area in his home last year, Sing Tao Daily reported.

About 30 minutes later, he began coughing and after suffering serious shortness of breath he was taken to hospital where he was detained for two days to be treated for chemical pneumonitis.

Chan Chi-keung, an associate consultant at the center, said the shoe spray contained fluorocarbon polymers and organic solvents, which react with water in the lungs and cause the alveoli inside to malfunction. This results in oxygen desaturation, news website reported.

When people apply the spray, Chan advised them to wear a mask, to do so in an outdoor or well-ventilated area, and also to limit the usage time to five minutes.

Last year, the center received 3,960 cases related to people being poisoned, slightly up from the total in 2017. Poisoning accounted for thirty deaths in the same period.

Chan also warned of the dangers of misusing household products as elderly citizens and children may mistake dangerous products for food.

One 83-year-old man with diabetes dissolved three small packets of powder into water and drank it, believing the packets contained sugar. However the packets contained a highly corrosive powder used to unclog drains.

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