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50 Years of Poison Prevention Efforts Result in Lives Saved; Emerging, Toxic Hazards Still Lurk in Many Homes

Release Date: March 20, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) celebrates the nation’s longest running public health campaign: National Poison Prevention Week (NPPW), from March 17 to 23, 2013. As a longtime supporter of NPPW, one of the CPSC’s greatest contributions to the effort has been the requirement of child-resistant closures on certain medicines and household chemicals.

When NPPW was launched more than 50 years ago, about 400 children a year died from unintentional poisoning. The most common culprit: aspirin. Today, about 40 children a year die from unintentional poisoning. Although this demonstrates significant progress, CPSC believes that is still too many, which is why the agency continues to identify and address new and recurring poison dangers.

“During National Poison Prevention Week, we celebrate the tremendous success of this public safety campaign,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “There are still children who need to be protected from household poisoning, so we must not let our guard down.  Products that pose a toxic risk to children need to be locked up and put away from their reach.”

Each year, 90,000 children are treated in emergency departments for unintentional poisoningsRecently, CPSC issued warnings about poison dangers involving coin-size batteries and a product new to the U.S. marketplace, single-load liquid laundry packets. Children are attracted to the shapes and textures of these products intended for adults.  When these products are left within a child’s reach, the results can be tragic.   CPSC is encouraged that the coin and button cell industry is developing more secure packaging and taking additional steps to try to keep the products away from young children. However, CPSC seeks design changes that eliminate the serious chemical burn injuries that often occur upon ingestion. CPSC is also encouraged that the manufacturers of laundry packets are developing improved warning labels, making their product packaging less attractive to children, and have committed to implement a comprehensive multi-year consumer awareness campaign.  However, CPSC seeks additional design changes to all types of packages containing laundry packets that will make individual packets less accessible to children.

Young children have required emergency medical treatment as a result of swallowing or ingesting household products. CPSC’s message to parents: These incidents are preventable.

Consumers are encouraged to take the following safety steps to prevent unintentional poisonings:

  1. Keep medicines and household chemicals in their original, child-resistant containers.
  2. Store potentially hazardous substances up and out of a child's sight and reach.
  3. Keep the national Poison Help Line number, 800-222-1222, handy in case of a poison emergency.
  4. When hazardous products are in use, never let young children out of your sight, even if it means you must take them along when answering the phone or doorbell.
  5. Leave the original labels on all products, and read the labels before using the products.
  6. Always leave the light on when giving or taking medicine so you can see that you are administering the proper medicine, and be sure to check the dosage every time.
  7. Avoid taking medicine in front of children. Refer to medicine as “medicine,” not “candy.”
  8. Clean out the medicine cabinet periodically and safely dispose of unneeded and outdated medicines.
  9. Do not put decorative lamps and candles that contain lamp oil where children can reach them. Lamp oil can be very toxic if ingested by children.
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About the U.S. CPSC
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risk of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product-related incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of injuries associated with consumer products over the past 50 years. 

Federal law prohibits any person from selling products subject to a Commission ordered recall or a voluntary recall undertaken in consultation with the CPSC.

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