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Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
March 22, 2011

Poonam Alaigh, MD, MSHCPM, FACP

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications

Unintentional Poisonings are a Critical Health Hazard! National Poison Prevention Week is March 20 -26


During National Poison Prevention Week, Health and Senior Services Commissioner Dr. Poonam Alaigh is reminding parents to make sure they store hazardous materials – such as cleaning products or medication – out of their children’s reach. Children under six are involved in the majority of poison cases each year.


To educate the public and provide vital information about poisonings, the State of New Jersey maintains a Poison Information and Educational System, (NJPIES) that is available toll free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-222-1222 or at Text and chat features are also available as well as translation in more than 100 languages.


"More than 750 New Jersey residents are seen in hospital emergency rooms each year and the immediate assistance provided by NJPIES helps to reduce the number of patients who need to be seen in our emergency rooms," said Dr. Alaigh. “Every New Jersey household should have the phone number for the Poison Information and Education System within easy reach.”

NJPIES is staffed by health care professionals who provide callers with immediate help in poisoning emergencies and answer questions about poisonings involving medications, plants, household products, food, animal and insect bites and stings, environmental exposures and medication usage as well as interactions and side effects. 


"More than 660 New Jersey residents died from unintentional poisonings in 2007 and most poisonings are preventable," the Commissioner said. "Deaths from unintentional poisonings including drug overdoses are second only to motor vehicle crashes as a cause of unintentional death and injury.”

National Poison Prevention Week was designated by Congress in 1961 to highlight the dangers of poisonings and how to prevent them. Nationally, more than 4.2 million calls are answered by poison control centers across the U.S. each year and 2.5 million poison cases are treated including overdoses of prescription medications.


Young children are at especially high risk for accidental poisonings. Poisonings among children under six accounted for 1.8 percent of poison related fatalities nationally in 2009.


Some key tips for parents to prevent poisoning include:

·         Store toxic chemicals in locked cabinets or above counter level.  All cleaning products, toiletries, pesticides, and paint products should be stored out of sight and reach of small children.

·         Store vitamins, iron pills, and other medications in locked cabinets.  Hide the key in a separate location.  Be sure to throw away expired or unwanted medications.

·         Buy products packaged in childproof containers.  Remember, this may delay access, but it doesn't prevent it.

·         Keep poisonous plants out of small children's reach. 

·         Have preschool-age children tested for lead.  The only way to know if a child is lead poisoned is to have a blood test.

  • Avoid buying items that contain mercury.  Look for safer substitutes such as alcohol-filled or digital thermometers. 


For more facts about unintentional poisonings please visit the 

CDC poison prevention website.    


For more on poison control centers please visit the 

American Association of Poison Control Centers,


 and visit Poison for more on National Poison Prevention week.



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