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“All I Did Was Go To The Bathroom And…”

Posted: October 19th, 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

By Tony

No, this is not our attempt to make shameless PG-rated “bathroom humor.”  I haven’t conducted any studies nor am I equipped with any concrete statistics; all I have is my 30 years of observations as a certified toxicologist and those of other Illinois Poison Center call center staff. Yet I ask you to consider the following:  the act of going to the bathroom provides enough time and opportunity for any adventurous and clever toddler to get into mischief, which may unfortunately lead to an unwarranted injury or exposure. 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 »