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Human Poison Exposure Dangers in the Home

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The American Association of Poison Control Centers reports one human poison exposure is reported approximately every fifteen seconds in the United States, which means more than two million human poison exposures are reported each year. In addition to this, approximately 56,000 animal poisonings are reported each year.

Many homes contain everyday products that are potentially toxic and when these things are not stored properly, accidents can occur. Here are some of the most common household items that can be toxic to your family and pets:

Medication: According to the National Center for Health Statistics, over 80 percent of drug poisoning deaths are accidental and nearly half of all drug-poisoning deaths result from a prescription drug overdose, with opioid pain medications, such as hydrocodone and oxycodone. Prescription pain medications like these case more pediatric fatalities than any other substance that is reported to Poison Control, according to reported data. Over the counter medications like ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin can be poisonous as well.

Household cleaners: Most cleaning products contain a range of hazardous chemicals, such as hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide. It is important to point out that both the ingestion of these products as well as inhalation can result in poisoning.

Topical Anesthetics: The ingestion of even a small amount of a topical anesthetic can lead to poisoning. These products contain numbing ingredients to help reduce discomfort from things like sunburn, sore muscles, and insect bites.

Dishwasher and Laundry detergents: Reports indicate that swallowing liquid or granular dishwasher or laundry detergent can be extremely dangerous, but that detergent pods present an even greater risk of serious poisoning. United States Poison Control Centers reports indicate that over a two year period, they received more than 62,000 calls related to laundry and dishwasher detergent exposure affecting children under six years of age, and approximately 60 percent of those calls were triggered by exposure to detergent pods.

Insecticides: Insecticide poisoning can occur through swallowing, inhalation, or absorption through the skin. Chemicals in these products, which are meant to kill bugs such as ants, roaches, and wasps, can be very dangerous.

Ways to prevent harm from these household items includes:

  • Storing these items in their original containers, locked out of sign and reach of children and pets
  • Use small amounts of items that can cause inhalation poisoning and/or leave the area or home until the smell fades
  • Keep detergent pods in their original container, or better yet, avoid purchasing them as children tend to mistake them for candy
  • Follow label instructions and medical care provider instructions carefully, and put medications back in a secure place after each use.
  • Use cabinet locks wherever necessary to keep kids and pets from accessing anything that could be harmful

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