TOXICOLOGY AND POISON CONTROL
Section I. INTRODUCTION
It is estimated that accidental poisonings result in about 4,000 deaths per year,
while suicides by chemical agents result in about 6,000 deaths per year in the United
States. Each year there are some 500,000 children involved in accidental poisonings.
Approximately 90 percent of these poisonings occur in children who are too young to
attend school. You have probably read and heard about many cases of accidental
poisonings. As a pharmacy technician you may be asked to provide information to
professional personnel or to the public in an emergency situation. It is therefore
imperative that you be familiar with some general treatment procedures and information
sources pertinent to poisoning. Just as important, you can provide guidance which can
help persons avoid the tragedy associated with an accidental poisoning.
a. Poison. A poison is any substance which when ingested, inhaled, absorbed,
applied, injected, or even manufactured by the organism itself may cause damage to
the structure of that organism or destruction to the normal functioning of that organism.
b. Toxicology. Toxicology is the scientific study of poisons--their actions,
detection, and the treatment of the conditions they produce.
9-3. CAUSES OF POISONING
a. Intentional. Individuals for a variety of reasons can intentionally ingest
poisons. Some of these reasons are:
To commit suicide.
To gain personal attention.
To commit child abuse.
b. Accidental. Accidental poisonings usually affect children. In the years from
1972 through 1976, there were from one to two million cases of accidental poisoning
per year in the United States. Since 1976, this number of accidental poisonings has
dropped to approximately 500,000 cases per year. This decrease is attributed to the
Poison Prevention Packaging Act and to poison prevention publicity. The most
common sources of accidental poisoning were plants, various types of cleaners (soaps,