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Poison Prevention

Definition: The CDC defines poison as any substance that is harmful to your body when ingested, inhaled, injected, or absorbed through the skin.

Magnitude of the Problem:

  • According to the CDC,
    • In 2005, 72% of the 32,691 poisoning deaths in the U.S. were unintentional, and 10% were of undetermined intent
    • In 2005, 18% of the 32,691 poisoning deaths in the U.S. were intentional; the majority were suicides
    • In 2004, 95% of unintentional and undetermined poisoning deaths were caused by drugs (this includes prescription medication)
    • In 2004, 75% of poisoning suicides were caused by drugs. The most commonly used drugs were psychoactive drugs (e.g., sedatives and antidepressants), followed by opiates and prescription pain medications
  • The Home Safety Council states that poisoning is the 2nd leading cause of unintentional injury-related death in the home
  • According to the Health Resources and Services Administration's Poison Help project, 50.7 % of possible poisonings occur in children under age 6

Prevention: Poison Control Centers can be valuable resources in helping to prevent poisonings in communities. They can also be cost saving services for states, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for every dollar spent on Poison Control Center services, $7 is saved in medical spending. Raising awareness about poison prevention resources can be done through National Poison Prevention Week, which occurs every March. National organizations like the Home Safety Council and the American Association of Poison Control Centers can provide educational materials to help individuals understand common poisons found in the home, and steps to take to reduce risks and help keep children safe.

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