IL Poison Prevention Awareness Month

March 25, 2013 4:20:54 AM PDT
Pharmacist Erin Pallasch visits ABC7 Chicago to share helpful information.


General Information:

  • The Illinois Poison Center is a non-profit health service that provides the people of Illinois with access to comprehensive and trusted information and treatment advice on potentially harmful substances via the free, confidential hotline at 1-800-222-1222, available 24-hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year.
  • The Illinois Poison Center (IPC) celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2013, making it the oldest poison center in the nation.
  • The call center staff is comprised of specially trained doctors, pharmacists and nurses in poisoning and toxicology.
  • IPC experts manage 90 percent of poisoning exposures at the site of exposure.
  • Any substance can be harmful depending on the dose. NO issue is too big or too small to call the IPC at 1-800-222-1222.

    Cost Savings Statistics:

  • The IPC saves the people of Illinois $50 million annually by preventing unnecessary 911 calls and visits to a doctor or hospital and decreasing length of stays for poisoned patients admitted to the hospital by an average of 1 day.
  • For every $1 dollar invested in the IPC there is more than $13 savings in reduced health care costs.
  • The IPC accounts for $14.1 million in Medicaid savings in each year.
  • IPC staff prevented an estimated 35,000 ER visits.

    Poisoning Statistics: (facts courtesy of the Center for Disease Control)

  • Unintentional poisonings are the number 1 cause of accidental death for children ages 18-36 months.
  • 9 out of 10 poisoning deaths are caused by drugs/medications.
  • In Illinois, there are more people hospitalized for poisoning than for injuries from firearms and motor vehicle collisions combined. ( Courtesy of the Illinois Department of Health)
  • Poisoning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury related death in the United States

    Call Statistics:

  • The IPC receives over 80,000 calls per year, from across the state.
  • More than 20,000 calls annually come from health care professionals. Calls from health care professionals have increased more than 50 percent in the last decade.
  • Medications were the number one and two leading causes of exposure-related calls to the IPC in 2012.
  • Analgesics (Pain killers): 10,975 calls
  • Sedative/Hypnotics/Antipsychotics: 6,581 calls
  • 50 percent of the poison exposure calls handled by the IPC last year involved children ages 5 and under.

    Illinois Poison Prevention Month:

  • Illinois Poison Prevention Month (IPPM) started in 2007 as a way to encourage all residents to educate themselves about the potentially dangerous substances in their homes.
  • IPC staff and volunteers distributed more than 100,000 educational packets to Illinoisans to help create safer home environments for children and adults in the month of March.
  • The IPC works with hospitals, public health departments, schools of pharmacy and medicine and individual volunteer educators to conduct over 1,000 outreach programs on poison prevention for elementary and middle school students in March alone.
  • The IPC's Poison Prevention Education Resource Course is a free poison prevention resource available year round on our web site,

    Poison Prevention Tips:

  • Keep all potential poisons high and in a locked cabinet
  • Do not rely on child resistant packaging. Nothing is truly "child proof."
  • Always keep chemicals, pesticides and cleaning products in their original container.
  • Do not store them near food products or in the kitchen.
  • View common house hold products from a child's perspective. Misperceptions can be deadly.
  • antifreeze looks like blue Gatorade
  • laundry pods look like candy
  • nicotine-replacement gum looks just like conventional gum
  • Do not refer to medicine as candy or make a game out of taking it
  • Teach children to always ask first before they eat or drink anything.
  • Keep medicines and household products in their original containers with original labels
  • Keep the IPC phone number, 1-800-222-1222, near all phones in the house and store the number in your cell phone.
  • Call the IPC at 1-800-222-1222 at the first sign of an emergency. If the person is unconscious or has stopped breathing, call 911 first.

    Laundry Pods:

  • Laundry detergent pods are small, single-dose pods containing a highly concentrated formulation of laundry detergent.
  • Children are exposed to the substances when they bite into the laundry pod. Bright colors and small packaging might appear to be candy to a child. Other children have gotten the product in their eyes, resulting in significant eye irritation.
  • The most common symptoms of laundry pod ingestions are: vomiting, mouth/throat irritation and coughing. Poison centers in other states have seen cases of children developing serious symptoms such as drowsiness/coma and respiratory difficulty. About 1 child per 130 cases is placed on a ventilator due to symptoms from the ingestion.
  • Calls to the IPC regarding unintentional ingestion of traditional formulations of laundry detergent (powder and liquid) is common, however symptoms of laundry pod ingestions are much more severe.
  • Dishwasher detergent packs have not been shown to have these significant health effects.
  • Parents and caregivers are highly encouraged to keep laundry detergent up and away from children; consider taping or tying the containers closed when stored. Nicotine (cigarettes, chewing tobacco and nicotine replacements- gun, lozenges, patches)
  • Nicotine is a potent neurotoxin and should be kept away from children. Ingestion of tobacco products, nicotine-replacement patches, lozenges or gum can be dangerous and necessitate medical attention. Children often obtain these items from the garbage, kitchen counters and purses.
  • While it takes over 40 milligrams of nicotine to produce serious to deadly side effects in adults, as little as nine milligrams of nicotine (just over two 4mg nicotine lozenges or three cigarette butts) can cause adverse symptoms in a child.
  • Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, agitation or drowsiness, with seizures, coma, and, in more serious overdoses, increased heart rate and blood pressure are a few of the symptoms of nicotine toxicity. The onset of these symptoms is rapid, usually within one hour of exposure.
  • Young children are more susceptible to nicotine toxicity than adults. Parents and care givers must be very vigilant in keeping all nicotine products away from children. Be cautious when discarding used tobacco products, nicotine patches or chewed nicotine gum by putting them in a garbage can that children cannot access.
  • If an adult has used a patch or gum product, it still may contain nicotine and other byproducts that can make children sick.

    Nicotine-based gums and lozenges come in appealing flavors that children may want to try them. Nicotine patches are also simple for intriguing children and they may get them stuck to themselves

    To learn more about how you can keep your family safe you can:

  • Visit our website at
  • Read our weekly blog at
  • Like us on our Facebook page at IL Poison Center
  • Follow us on Twitter at IL Poison Center
  • To order stickers and education materials, visit