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My Favorite (poisonous) Fruit

Posted: May 25th, 2010 | 8 Comments »

By Carol,

Yesterday, I went for a walk around my neighborhood in the 89 degree temperatures and thought to myself– summer is officially here.  I went to the grocery store and spotted one of my favorite summer foods of all time:  cherries.   I bought a bag and as I popped one off its stem, I decided that this is the poisonous plant I will blog about this week. Read more »


Memorial Day/Summer Safety Tips: Keeping kids safe from poisons in the garage

Posted: May 18th, 2010 | 1 Comment »

The air is a little less cold; the sun is out a little bit longer. Plans are being made for the spring clean up as we head into Memorial Day and warmer weather.  As parents, this is a great time of year.  Neighborhood kids who have been in a 4 month hibernation come over to play and we marvel at how big they have all gotten over the winter.  Laughter fills the air as the children run around playing baseball, football, soccer and other outdoor games.

As an ER doc and Director of the Illinois Poison Center, I have to point out however, that spring and summer are the times when pediatric unintentional poisoning peaks.  In Illinois, there are over 20% more pediatric poisoning events in the spring and summer then there are in the winter.  And a lot of that is due to access to potentially harmful chemicals that are found in the garage. Read more »


The Breakdown on K2

Posted: May 11th, 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

By Carol

If you’ve been watching the news or reading the paper lately, you may have heard about a legal marijuana substitute known by names such as K2, space, spice, magic potpourri, and the like.  The name K2 is presumed to be named after the real K2, a mountain in the Karakoram Range, that is the second highest peak on earth after Mt Everest. 

 The mountain is high, this fake weed gets you ‘high’…clever, eh?  So what is this stuff anyway?  Read more »

“So, What’s The Most Dangerous Poison Around The House?”

Posted: May 4th, 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Toxicity Hazards of Household Drain Cleaners

By: Tony Burda and Irene Hong

The title of this piece is a common question asked by students, residents, and new employees undergoing training at the Illinois Poison Center (IPC).  I could come up with several things that are pretty scary for kids and pets to get into, such as charcoal lighter fluid or antifreeze.  But, in my opinion, the most dangerous chemicals that can be found in the average household are those used to open or clean drains and sewers. 

Tony:  This lesson was made crystal clear to me in a very tangible way shortly after starting to work in the poison center.  I had moved into an older home and discovered that the second floor bathroom sink drained slowly.  I tried using bleach and plunging with no improvement in the problem.  So I purchased some crystal drain opener, tossed in a spoonful into the drain, added water, and waited for the magic to happen.  Within minutes, I could hear the water literally boiling in the gooseneck of the drainpipe.  Strange smells emanated from the sink drain.  I became curious so I touched the drainpipe just to see Read more »