March is Poison Prevention Awareness Month

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Provided by Prince WIlliam County

March is Poison Prevention Awareness Month. People should take the time to make themselves aware of the potential hazards of poisoning.

The Mayo Clinic defines poisoning as harm or death cause by inhaling, touching, swallowing, or injecting various drugs chemicals, gases or venoms, according to nationaltoday.com.

The most common place of poisonings is at home with smoke, hydrogen cyanide, and carbon monoxide inhalation among the top hazards.

Scientists and doctors knew little about poisoning in the early 20th century. There were no poison control centers, drug manufacturing oversight, or drug labeling. The lack of such measures left little understanding of health problems and death associated poisoning. Understanding of poisoning increased as science got better.

In the 1930s Duke University pediatrician Dr. Jay Arena gathered data on toxic hazards and founded the American Academy of Pediatrics. This organization advised pediatricians about childhood poisonings and issued a report on household products that were hazardous to children

Dr. Edward Press and Lewis Gdalman established the first poison control center in 1953 in Chicago where people could call for information about poisoning, data and medical advice.

By 1963 people could call for medical advice. By 1978, poison control centers were established across the country

In 1961, the U.S. Congress passed a joint resolution asking President John F. Kennedy to proclaim the third week in March as National Poison Prevention Week. Kennedy signed the proclamation in 1962. Since then, the week has grown to include all of March.

Today there are 55 poison control centers in the United States that take more than 3.4 million calls annually.

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