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National Poison Prevention Week: Much to celebrate and still much work to do

Posted: March 22nd, 2016 | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

The 3rd week in March has been designated as National Poison Prevention Week (NPPW) by each and every President since John F. Kennedy started the tradition in 1962.  The Illinois Poison Center is a strong advocate of poison prevention and has worked with the Governor, Legislature and City of Chicago to have the entire month of March declared Illinois Poison Prevention Month (IPPM).

I know, it seems like overkill, but the trends and outcomes of lowering pediatric poisoning in Illinois is worthy of the effort. Read more »


Isla Fisher: What not to do (when it comes to poisoning)

Posted: July 30th, 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

isla_imageEveryone at some point has cringed while watching the Hollywood version of their profession butchered in a movie. For example, law enforcement hates how police are shown jumping rooftops, forensics experts take minutes to find evidence, and attorneys take  a couple hours in a courtroom to convict a perpetrator.  We in the poison business have the same cringe-worthy moments when watching movies where someone has taken a lethal ingestion but survives due to a ridiculously simple or outrageously dramatic approach to the treatment of a poisoning or overdose.  We genuinely fear that the general public will believe in what they are viewing.

Read more »


What More Do We Need To Say?

Posted: February 5th, 2013 | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

http___illinoispoisoncenter

For children ages 18-36 months, poisoning is the #1 cause of injury-related hospitalization and death  

In Illinois, there are more people hospitalized for poisonings than for injuries from firearms and motor vehicle collisions combined 

9 out of 10 poisoning deaths are caused by drugs/medications

As the nation’s oldest poison center prepares to kick off its annual Illinois Poison Prevention Month (IPPM) in the month of Marchwe asked some of our most active volunteer educators to share their IPPM activities; but more importantly we asked them to explain why IPPM and the Illinois Poison Center (IPC) are so important: Read more »


Lessons From the Mercury Disaster at Minamata Bay, Japan

Posted: June 5th, 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Have you ever wondered why environmentalists are so concerned about the way we dispose of even trace amounts of mercury, such as that contained in your fever thermometers, thermostats, and compact fluorescence lightbulbs (CFLs)? The answer comes from a hard lesson we learned over a half century ago involving an environmental disaster at a place called Minamata Bay, Japan. Read more »


Hot Dogs, Button Batteries, and Pediatric ER Visits

Posted: May 29th, 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

The IPC wrote a blog several months ago on the potential dangers of button batteries during the past holiday season.  As an update, a new study recently published in Pediatrics, shows that ER visits related to batteries have doubled in the past 20 years; most of the increase has occurred in the past 8 years as button batteries have become more ubiquitous in the marketplace. Read more »


Laundry Detergent ‘Pods’: A new product formulation with unexpected toxicity

Posted: May 22nd, 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

For years the IPC has received calls involving a child getting into laundry detergent.  Luckily, an unintentional taste of powder or liquid laundry detergent by a child is expected to cause minimal toxicity: throat or stomach irritation at the worst. In fact, most children don’t develop any symptoms at all.  However, over the past couple months we (and the other poison centers in the country) have been seeing a new formulation of laundry detergent that is causing alarming toxicity.   Read more »


To Dads….on Mother’s Day

Posted: May 8th, 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

This post goes out to the all the Dads trying to make Mother’s Day special.  You may want to let Mom sit back and relax while you provide some household cleaning, help out with daily medications for the kids, or possibly even get the little critters involved in a little craft making! All of these are great ideas and traditions, but need to be handled with care.

Here are some tips to keep you, Mom, and the kids safe: Read more »


Down and Dirty Facts about Lead Contaminants in Soil

Posted: May 3rd, 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Now that warm weather is here, you are no doubt starting your garden again. One thing you may not have considered is the amount of lead in the soil in your garden. Lead poisoning can cause children to be overly active, inattentive, and even a small amount in a child can lower intelligence and slow nervous system development. A recent expose entitled “Ghost Factories: Poison in the Ground” was published in USA TODAY on April 20, 2012 and it pointed out the seriousness of lead contamination in geographic areas on or near old lead smelters. Lead levels in the soil samples collected by USA TODAY were generally highest in locations like Chicago, Cleveland and Philadelphia, usually in the areas where industrial sites are or were located. Read more »


Don’t Make Me Puke!!

Posted: April 10th, 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Why you should never ever induce vomiting

The first 5 years I worked at the IPC, I was a CSPI and answered calls from the general public and health care professionals.  I would always joke with my fellow CSPIs that we used the word ‘vomit’ more times in a day than most people probably do in a lifetime:  “Has he had any vomiting?”  “Symptoms to watch for include vomiting…”  “How many times did she vomit?”  “If you see excessive vomiting, call us back” and, the most pertinent to this post, “DO NOT induce vomiting”. Read more »


Be Safe with Holiday Evergreen Decorations

Posted: December 13th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

During the holiday season, evergreen plants adorn houses all over the world.  For the northern climates, the outside can be dreary, cold and devoid of life.  Decorations of green-leaved plants and bright red berries add spark and life to our homes.  Through generations of tradition, decorative plants such as holly, mistletoe and occasionally the yew plant provide a backdrop that helps bring the holiday feeling alive. Read more »


Thanksgiving Day Turkey Disasters

Posted: November 22nd, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

If you are a regular reader of IPC’s blog, you know that we can get some pretty wild calls.  In honor of T-day 2011, here are some of the most bizarre food-related Thanksgiving calls our staff has gotten over the years.

Jessica S, PIP*

The most memorable Thanksgiving call that sticks out in my head was about 10-11 years ago from a woman who simply asked, “Is it safe to eat a turkey that is playing jingle bells?” As the family sat down to their Thanksgiving meal, everyone began looking around asking each other, ‘where is that music coming from?’   Read more »


We’re Grateful You’re Part of Our Team!

Posted: November 15th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

As we approach the end of this year, we would like to thank all of you for your continued support of the IPC. The IPC is proud to play a vital role in Illinois’ health care network. Without you and others like you who carry our message and have offered personal financial support to help us continue our efforts, we would not be as successful doing our job.

For over 50 years, we have been just a phone call away; providing immediate help in handling poison emergencies throughout Illinois. Read more »


New Illinois Law Expands Allergy Treatment Options in Schools

Posted: November 8th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

How you would like your child’s school year to start out something like this: It is a typical day during lunchtime at the local elementary school cafeteria.  A kindergartner with a severe peanut allergy trades lunch with a friend.  Little does he know, the shared cookie contains peanut butter. The child develops a red rash, swelling around the eyes and has some trouble breathing within minutes of eating the cookie.  Pretty scary, right? The good news, schools are now better equipped to deal with life-threatening allergic reactions such as this thanks to the passage of new legislation which allows the stocking and administration of epinephrine auto-injectors (commonly referred to as Epi-pens™) in Illinois schools. Read more »


Babysitters & Nannies: Things to know before the parents go

Posted: November 1st, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

If you are a babysitter/sitter/nanny, or ever entrust your precious progeny to one of them, then this article is for you.  About half of the IPC’s 80,000 exposures every year involve kids age 5 and under, and more than 90% of all exposures happen in the home.  I think we all would agree that keeping children safe is the most important part of babysitting.  Potentially harmful substances come in many forms (liquids, tablets, solids, sprays and gases), and can look or smell like things that are good to eat and drink. As you know, young children are curious, and they learn about their environment by touching and placing things in their mouths.

My motto has always been, “if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail”.  The time to ask questions is before the parents walk out, and when kids are involved, always prepare for the unexpected!  Below is a list of information to gather before you are left in charge (or leave others in charge of your child(ren): Read more »


“My Child Ate…Something Around the House!”

Posted: September 27th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

The blog series “My Child Ate…” continues this week with us taking a look at the top ten things children are getting into around the house.  Each year, poison centers receive over one million calls involving children ages five and under.  Have you ever wondered what in the world kids are getting into? Well check out our top 10 list below:

  1. Cosmetics/Personal Care Products: “It’s pretty and pink.  It’s easy to open, and looks like a  fruit drink.” Read more »

“My Child Ate…Grandma’s Medicine”

Posted: September 13th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Over the next 4 weeks the IPC staff will contribute some of their most compelling cases from the call center that often start with three words, “my child ate…” We hope you enjoy this blog series, and we encourage you to share your own “My Child Ate…” stories or your poison center experience.

There is a burgeoning fascination with the strange things children eat.  If one were to do an internet search on the three words “my child ate”, it looks like a lot of children are eating Tums, poop (yes, poop, human and pet), pennies, crayons, deodorant and a host of household products.  Going beyond internet search, the TLC channel even has a TV show on the subject and has casting calls for the show “Your Child at What?” Read more »


Too Much of A Good Thing…

Posted: August 30th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Making sense of new voluntary dosing guidelines on acetaminophen containing products: Minimizing liver damage associated with a common medicine.

Acetaminophen is one of the most common over-the-counter (OTC) medications, appearing in over 600 OTC products. It is an effective pain reliever and fever reducer when used as directed, though it can cause severe liver damage if overused. In fact, acetaminophen overdose is the most common cause of acute liver failure requiring a liver transplant in the United States. Read more »


Coming Soon to a Pharmacy Near You…

Posted: June 21st, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

New Pediatric Acetaminophen Dosing Guidelines and Formulation Changes

If you are in tune to healthcare and medical news stories, you probably already know that overdosing or chronically using too much of the popular non-aspirin product called acetaminophen may cause serious and possibly even fatal liver damage.  Read more »


Baths Salts: Examples of Paranoia, Psychosis & Tragedy

Posted: June 14th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

I just love doing internet searches.  I am old enough to remember searching the library for journals, magazines and newspapers, books, and scanning microfiche for hours on end in order to find information for projects and articles.  Now with technology, key tidbits on almost any topic are just a few key strokes away.

Recently, I was reading a list serve thread about Bath Salts and a potential relationship with traumatic death by suicide or homicide. Read more »


Top 10 Drug and Poison Safety Tips

Posted: June 7th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

June is National Safety Month.  Did you know that potentially hazardous substances can be found in nearly every home?  Follow these tips to keep you and your family safe from potentially toxic exposures!

1. Store all medications, chemicals and household products out of reach and out of sight of children—ideally locked up. Read more »


Top 5 Bug Spray Questions: Home Edition

Posted: May 24th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

This time of year, the Illinois Poison Center’s call volume starts to increase for a variety of reasons. One of  those reasons has to do with the use of pesticides in the home.  Here are the top 5 most frequently asked questions about insecticides:

1. Can I use outdoor-use pesticides inside the house if I have a really bad bug problem?

No!  There is a major difference in the safety level of the two products. Most Read more »


What’s in a name?

Posted: May 17th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.

Evolving technology, demographics, and regulatory changes are all expanding the type and scope of services that Poison Control Centers have historically provided.  A few weeks ago, I wrote about the limitations of the Mr. Yuk logo; we are not “just the place that Mom’s call” anymore.

Last year, the IPC received about 36,500 calls on children 5 and under.  We provided triage and treatment recommendations that allowed families to treat a stunning 96% of these kids at home without an expensive or stressful trip to the ER.  Hmmmm, maybe that sounds like the place that mom’s call after all. Read more »


When Seconds Feel Like Hours…What Will You Do?

Posted: May 3rd, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

What would you do if you contacted the poison center during an emergency and your call went unanswered for minutes… if not longer?

Here are some real life cases, that offer just a tiny sample of the types of calls the Illinois Poison Center handles everyday: Read more »


National Take-Back Initiative 2011

Posted: April 27th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

For the second consecutive year, the DEA will coordinate a collaborative effort with state and local law enforcement agencies to remove potentially dangerous controlled substances from our nation’s medicine cabinets on April 30th , 2011. Collection activities will take place from 10:00 a.m. through 2:00 p.m. at sites established throughout the country.  The National Take-Back Day provides an opportunity for the public to surrender expired, unwanted, or unused pharmaceutical controlled substances and other medications for destruction.  These drugs are a potential source of supply for illegal use and an unacceptable risk to public health and safety. Read more »


The Gardener’s Guide to Poison Prevention

Posted: April 26th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Just the other day, one of our super certified poison information specialists (CSPI) was shopping at a local grocery store and found a packet of castor bean seeds in the gardening section. While most would be dazed by the beautiful flowers these seeds produce, at the Illinois Poison Center we are all too familiar with the poison contained in castor beans, ricin.  Ricin is derived from castor beans and can be refined and manufactured as a chemical weapon. Potentially toxic plants around homes are always a concern for the IPC staff. With the spring-planting season upon us, we want to provide our readers with some very important information they need in order to become more educated gardeners. Read more »