CORVALLIS, Ore. – The National Pesticide Information Center at Oregon State University has joined poison centers and poison prevention partners across the United States to highlight ways to prevent poisoning during National Poison Prevention Week.
The National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC), the only one of its kind in the U.S., is a member of the National Poisoning Prevention Council, the official sponsor of National Poison Prevention Week, now in its 55th year. The council is comprised of a group of representatives from a diverse array of government and nonprofit organizations.
The National Pesticide Information Center is a partnership between OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and a major component of the college’s Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology.
The overarching themes of the week are “Children Act Fast; So Do Poisons” and “Poisonings Span a Lifetime.” Additionally, the following daily themes are observed during the week: Poison Centers: Saving You Time and Money; Home, Safe Home; and Medication Safety.
In 2016, the National Pesticide Information Center received more than 1,900 calls in which a person, animal, or environmental entities were exposed to a pesticide. The phones are open Monday through Friday at (800) 858-7378 from 8 a.m. to noon PT.
More than 6.5 million people visit the NPIC website each year, and more than one-third of those people live outside the United States.
Alicia Leytem, a pesticide specialist at NPIC and liaison to the national council, said people would be surprised to learn that one of the most common calls the center receives involves mothballs.
“Mothballs are meant to be used in airtight containers for insects, and the gas they release is an insecticide,” she said. “When used in open areas, they can be harmful to people or pets that may breathe in the vapors. When somebody calls NPIC they speak directly to a scientist who helps them assess the risks in their individual situation. They also learn easy steps to reduce their exposure to pesticides in their everyday lives.”
Poisonings not involving illicit drugs involve an array of substances and occur in many ways. In 2015, almost 60 percent of all exposure cases involved pharmaceuticals. Other exposures were to household products, plants, mushrooms, pesticides, animal bites and stings, carbon monoxide, and many other types of non-pharmaceutical substances.
Nearly 84 percent of the poisonings in 2015 were due to ingestion. People were also exposed to potentially dangerous substances through the lungs, skin, eyes, and other routes.
For more information about pesticide safety, visit NPIC’s pesticide risk fact sheet.
“From medication mishaps to poisonous outdoor exposures, poisonings can happen anywhere, at any time, and to anyone,” said Stephen T. Kaminski, chief executive officer and executive director of the American Association of Poison Control Centers. “During National Poisoning Prevention Week, poison centers want to remind the public that while poisoning is the leading cause of injury death in the United States, many poisonings are preventable, and expert help is always just a phone call away.”
To follow social media content pertaining to National Poison Prevention Week, search for the hashtags #NPPW17 and #PreventPoison.