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Inhalants: Basic information to unasked questions

Posted: April 27th, 2010 | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

This month, the Chicago Tribune published a tragic story of a life cut short by inhalant abuse.  Inhalants are one of the most commonly used methods to get high among young adolescents.  The Monitoring the Future surveys show that in 2009, 15% of eighth graders had abused inhalants in their lifetimes. Read more »

A Bewitching Fungus Among Us

Posted: April 20th, 2010 | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

By Carol

In honor of the warmer weather and sunshine, IPC will feature one toxic plant per month on our blog.  The plants of the world are filled with chemical compounds that interact with receptors in the human body and many of them have quite a long sordid history (and present) in art, literature and of course science and medicine.

Claviceps purpurea

I’m getting a little tricky here with the first plant post because my personal favorite toxic/medicine growing thing is not technically a plant; it’s a fungus: Claviceps Purpurea. It contaminates rye and other grains, especially when the weather is cool and moist and there is a delayed harvest. C Purpurea is responsible for ergotism, which is caused by the numerous toxins the fungus produces including ergotamine (the biggie), histamine, tyramine, isomylamine, acetylcholine, and acetaldehyde.  Recordings of grain contamination by C Purpurea date back to the stone tablets of 600 BC.  Ergotamine is a precursor for Lysergic Acid Diethyamide (LSD or acid), and is actually what Dr Albert Hoffman was tinkering with when he serendipitously discovered the hallucinogen. Read more »

I had to call the Illinois Poison Center

Posted: April 13th, 2010 | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Last week, a Chicago Mom Blogger posted her experience with the Illinois Poison Center (IPC).  Accidental pediatric ingestions of potentially harmful substances make up over 50% of our calls in Illinois; we receive 40,000 to 45,000 calls annually regarding children 5 and under.  There are over 1.2 million calls in the U.S. fielded by designated poison centers from this age group.  It is an incredibly common story, but very often, an untold story. Read more »

How to NOT gas yourself while cleaning the loo

Posted: April 6th, 2010 | Tags: , , , , | 11 Comments »

By Tony and special guest blogger Heather Ipema

A common telephone call to the IPC starts with a person coughing, sniffling, short of breath, and having difficulty finishing sentences.  The caller wonders if it is due to poisoning from mixing bathroom cleaners.

Determined to really disinfect the entire germy bathroom, the caller has made the common mistake of mixing household bleach (5% sodium hypochlorite) with an acidic toilet bowl cleaner.  They are shocked to learn that the combination of bleach and any acid results in a substance once used as a chemical warfare agent in World War I, and still considered a weapon of mass destruction today.  So, what is this nasty greenish-yellow vapor emanating from their commode?  It’s chlorine gas, and it’s poisonous. Read more »