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Mother Nature’s Most Dangerous Toxins

Posted: September 6th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

It’s one of the biggest poison myths of all time:  ‘all-natural’ or ‘organic’ substances are safer than their man-made or ‘chemical’ counterparts.  However, the fact is that some of the most toxic substances known to man come straight from mother earth (or her creatures).   There may be many positives about organic or all-natural products, but being inherently safer to humans is not one of them.   Please don’t make the mistake of being less than vigilant in the way you store organic cleansers, all-natural pesticides or herbal supplements.  Remember the toxicology mantra “the dosage makes it so”.   Any substance can be potentially harmful/toxic in the right amount! Read more »


Truth, Dare, Double Dare…

Posted: July 19th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Unfortunately, many poison exposure incidents start with 3 little words: “I dare you…”  A group of friends egging each other on, calling bravery into question (and often offering money if the dare is completed) can quickly turn a flippant suggestion into a potential medical emergency.

Here are some  dares the IPC staff has consulted on:

  • A 40 year old male was dared to chew and swallow a lizard for $50.  A live one.  There is a reason we have the Brookfield Zoo’s senior reptile keeper’s phone number on our quick number list! 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 »


Where’s the Antidote?!

Posted: April 19th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Antidotes are sexy.  We see it in James Bond and Indiana Jones movies:  the hero has been slipped a lethal poison (usually, while wearing a tuxedo) and just in the nick of time swallows a vial of mysterious liquid that allows him to continue to save the day.

(Watch the poisoning scene in James Bond Casino Royale)

The word antidote can be described as the opposite or antonym of ‘poison.’  It comes from the Greek word antidoton, meaning ‘to give against’.    A common misconception about antidotes is that every poison has one.   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 »


Top 5 Things You Didn’t Think Could be Poisonous to Children

Posted: January 5th, 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments »

Half of the calls received by the IPC involve kids under the age of 6.  Young children are naturally curious and explore their environments by touching and putting things into their mouths.  They learn by imitation, their taste buds are immature and they do not understand cause and effect.  Plus they are just small, so in many cases it doesn’t take much to overwhelm their little systems.  The IPC recommends keeping all potentially harmful substances away from children, because just about anything can be a poison in the right amount.  The following 5 things are in many households and it may surprise you that they can be so harmful. Read more »


Welcome to the Illinois Poison Center Blog

Posted: December 9th, 2009 | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

An Introduction to the Illinois Poison Center Blog:

Welcome to the first post of the Illinois Poison Center blog site!  I must be honest, in medical school I never thought I would be writing an internet blog, probably because Al Gore hadn’t invented the internet yet and blogs did not exist.  A lot has changed in the past 20 plus years.  With the tremendous growth in the internet and social media, the ability to communicate in the blogosphere has taken off with mommy blogs, daddy blogs, political blogs, community blogs, health-related blogs and others.  There are those who may ask “Does the world really need another blog, especially a poison center blog?”  I would have to answer with an unequivocal “yes”.

The Illinois Poison Center provides a variety of services and programs that encompass health care, public health education and research.  Through this blog, we will generate a dialogue, a conversation, with everyone interested in decreasing the harm of poisoning in their family, community or in the patients they treat.

We will have stories, articles, news you can use, interesting poisoning cases, and information and education on how to make your home and community safer. Read more »