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Natural gas is an energy source that is commonly used in homes for cooking, heating, and water heating


When thinking about poisoning, a substance that causes injury, illness, or death, especially by chemical means, whats the first thing that comes to mind? Well, usually its food poisoning, lead poisoning, and gas poisoning. More than 1.5 million calls are made each year to local poison control centers to report accidental poisonings and more than three-fourths of these incidents involve children under the age of 5. Usually they are accidental and other sources of poisonings are drug overdoses among drug abusers. The Table below contains what poisons are located around the house:



Drain cleaner


Permanent-wave solutions


Fabric softener

Ionic detergents

Rat poison


Floor wax


Room deodorizer


Furniture polish

Lighter fluid

Rubbing alcohol

Carpet cleaner




Cement and glue

Gel for Hair

Metal polish

Shoe polish

Contraceptive pills

Headache remedies

Nail varnish

Sleeping pills/sleep aids


Heart medicines

Oven cleaner






Diet pills


Paint thinner





Window cleaning fluid

Some products like petroleum, pesticides, industrial poisons, and medicines used as poisons are all poisonous items that can harm people in many different ways. In order to learn how to properly care for poisoning and prevent it, the different methods have to be explained for common poisonings.

  An energy source that is commonly used in homes for cooking, heating, and water heating is natural gas, mainly composed of methane (a highly flammable chemical compound). A natural gas leak can sometimes happen inside a home even though it happens rarely from gas appliances, heating systems, water heaters, and interior natural gas pipe systems. A natural gas leak can be dangerous because it increases the risk of a fire or an explosion. Also, exposure to natural gas can reduce the amount of oxygen available for breathing, causing symptoms including dizziness, fatigue, nausea, headache, vomiting, drowsiness, confusion, elevated heart rate, seizures, and/or irregular breathing. Exposure to extremely high levels of natural gas can cause unconsciousness or even death. The gas company attaches a warning rotten-egg type of smell which means that natural gas is in the air since it has no odor. A gas detector can be an important tool to help protect people and their family. Natural gas detectors differ in price, features, and easiness of installation. When selecting a natural gas detector, consider if the device will be set off by other elements, the level of gas that will set off the alarm, location of the detector, type of alarm given as a warning, and the maintenance required in order for the detector to work properly. When the alarm of a detector goes off, one should follow these rules in order to be safe: Leave the house immediately, Contact your local gas utility company from a phone outside and away from your home, for phones are capable of producing a spark, possibly resulting in a fire or an explosion. Do not light a match, turn any light switches on/off, and plug/unplug electrical appliances, since they all can produce a spark. Finally, do not re-enter the house until the gas company finds the source of the leak and fixes it. No one can really treat natural gas poisoning by them self, instead call professional medical help and get the victim to fresh air immediately. The symptoms, prevention, and first aid are very similar to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Another kind of poisoning is carbon monoxide poisoning. It is an odorless, colorless, tasteless, and dangerous gas that kills hundreds of people each year. The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may include headache, dizziness, irritability, confusion/memory loss, disorientation, nausea and vomiting, abnormal reflexes, difficulty coordination, difficulty breathing, chest pain, cerebral edema (swelling of the brain), convulsions/seizures, coma, or even death. It is commonly described as a flu-type syndrome. A diagnosis of carbon monoxide poisoning is usually confirmed by a Carbon Monoxide level greater that 10%. Infants, the elderly, pregnant women, and anyone with an earlier history of breathing problems are at a higher risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide decreases the transfer of oxygen to the organs, affecting the heart, central nervous system, and the brain. Breathing irregularities occur during Carbon Monoxide poisoning, causing heart blocks and Premature Ventricular Contraction, which may lead to a heart attack or death. Another symptom is the swelling of the brain, in which brain cells are destroyed and may cause a Parkinson-like brain syndrome.

One way to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning is to buy carbon monoxide detectors. Carbon monoxide frequently is made by the incomplete combustion of wood or hydrocarbon products. Many victims are stricken by gases which are insufficiently vented by heating equipment or furnaces and with fireplaces or wood-burning stoves/heaters. More than fifty percent of all carbon monoxide incidents occur within homes and twenty percent of all incidents occur in businesses of different types. In order to treat carbon monoxide exposure patients, anyone should first move the victim(s) to fresh air. Secondly, activate the fire/emergency medical service system if victim(s) are undergoing and symptoms. Then, monitor for respiratory problems. Also, ventilate the affected area. If people could learn to recognize and prevent the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, then many live could be save and helped. Efforts including checking furnace ducts, chimneys, and vents and getting their complete heating system checked could prevent the hazard.

Lead is a metal that is poisonous and toxic to people and used in lead paint before the 1970s (when it wasnt banned) and in products like batteries, ammunition, solder, pipes, pottery glazes, and printing inks. Lead poisoning is a serious disease which causes learning and developmental disabilities, usually have no symptoms. Three quarters of the houses in the U.S. contain lead paint, concerning children under six who can appear healthy but have dangerous levels of lead in their blood. Children absorb about seven times more of the lead they ingest into their bodies than adults do since they usually eat lead-based things and still are developing their organ systems. Lead poisoning is mainly caused by tiny particles of lead dust from paint or painted surfaces during remodeling, repair, or renovation and passes through most masks and filters.

The number one environmental health risk facing children, with more than three million children age six and younger already having toxic levels of lead in their bodies, is lead poisoning. Amounts of lead in children lead to reading and learning disabilities, behavior problems, and basically lower educational achievement, mainly cause by lead-based paint in their homes. Lead is also found in water, especially in homes with faucets or fittings made of brass or pipes, containing lead. Lead enters a body by someone inhaling, ingesting, or touching lead-based material. When lead enters the body, it gets distributed into the blood, body organs, and mainly bone. The prevention that can be taken to treat lead poisoning early includes going to a doctor and getting a blood sample. It is advised for children to be tested less than six years old that live in a house with lead-based paint or is near any things/people with lead. Wearing protective equipment on the job, changing clothes and taking a shower before leaving, eating or drinking in an area where lead is used, or not shaking work clothes and not washing them with other clothing are some preventive steps to lead poisoning. Also, eating foods that are rich in calcium and iron allow the body to absorb less lead including food high in Vitamin C. By taking these simple steps, many children can be prevented from death and disabilities.

One of the most common poisoning is plant poisoning. There are more than 700 plant species in the U.S. that can cause poisoning if a part of them is swallowed, depending on the toxicity of a plant. Many plants contain many toxic parts including the whole plant, stem, leaf, sap, bulbs, berries, and/or seeds. They cause the victim symptoms including irritation, diarrhea, rashes, swollen body parts, vomiting, pain, weakness, shallow breathing, headache, etc. upon contact or ingestion. Few plants can even cause death in some cases. To prevent plant poisoning, dont buy house plants that are poisonous to either humans or pets, avoid decorative plants that have poisonous fruits or berries, not to eat anything that is unfamiliar, and dont let children eat things that grow wild. If someone were to ingest a poisonous plant, contact a poison control center for information and instructions immediately, bring the plant with the victim to an emergency facility, and if professional advice is unavailable and victim is fully conscious, empty the stomach by inducing vomiting. The list on the next page is a table of common poisonous plants in the United States.





There are hundreds of poisonous plants in the United States. Following are some of the more common ones that are grown in gardens, used as houseplants, or grow in the wild.


Mistletoe (berries)

Deadly nightshade



Mountain laurel

Dieffenbachia (also called dumb cane)


English ivy




Grass pea vine


Autumn crocus

Holly (berries)

Potato (sprouts, roots, and vines; only the tuber is edible)


Horse chestnuts



Hyacinth (bulbs)

Rhubarb (leaf and roots; only the stalk is edible)

Bird-of-paradise (seed pod)


Poison hemlock






Purple locoweed

Castor bean

Jasmine (flowers)

Rape weed


Jerusalem cherry

Skunk cabbage

Chinese evergreen

Jimsonweed (also called thorn apple)

Sweet pea

Christmas pepper


Tomato plant leaves

Corn cockle


Water hemlock

Daffodil (bulb)


Wisteria (seeds)



Yew (needles, bark, seeds, and berries)

  Food poisoning is a disease of an infectious or toxic nature caused by the consumption of contaminated foods or drinks. 2 million people a year suffer from diarrhea and/or vomiting caused by food poisoning in the United Kingdom. It is usually caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites and the very young, the elderly, and pregnant women are vulnerable to infections since their immune systems are weakened. In order to avoid this potential life-threatening poisoning, people must keep food clean, cook food adequately, and keep hot food hot and cold food cold. Usually, food born illnesses are caused by certain types of bacteria or viruses, which continue to grow after digestion and cause an infection. There are many different kinds of bacteria such as Salmonella and Campylobacter that are normally found in warm-blooded animals. These bacteria may be found in raw meat, poultry, eggs, or un-pasteurized dairy products. They live in the intestinal tracts of humans and animals and are transmitted by food or contact with carriers of the infection.

Some symptoms of Salmonella and Campylobacter after 12-36 hours include headache, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, and even death, lasting 2-7 days, depending upon the fitness of the patient and the type of infection. The prevention to this disease is by cooking food thoroughly, chilling food rapidly in small quantities, and washing hands, work surfaces, or equipment in contact with raw meat or poultry. Many other types of bacteria that cause food poisoning are similar to the effects of Salmonella. Also, Hepatitis A and some other viral diseases may be transmitted through foods, which can simply be prevented by washing hands thoroughly after using the toilet and cooking shellfish and other foods. Botulism is another type of food poisoning that is a more serious case and can lead to life-threatening complications.

Simple methods like washing hands with soap before and after handling food, working with clean hands, hair, fingernails, and clothing, as well as washing everything can help prevent food poisoning. This is because a disease called Staph may occur, which is carried by people on skin and spread when someone handles food. Also, cooking wont destroy the bacteria. As a result, practice good personal hygiene and sanitary food handling. Do not re-use utensils with which you have prepared raw eggs or meat without first washing them with hot water and detergent. In order to prevent food poisoning form bacteria like Salmonella, Campylobacter, or Listeria, cooking animal products thoroughly will destroy them. Meat and poultry should be usually cooked up to 160-185 degrees Fahrenheit in order to destroy the germs. Since bacteria need food, warmth, moisture, and time to grow and multiply, then keeping hot food hot and cold foods cold prevents bacteria from growing rapidly on foods held for more than 2-3 hours. Refrigerate groceries as soon as you get home and dont leave them in the car, for they can grow bacteria very quickly, especially in hot weather.

Some foods like eggs have to be kept clean and cold, since they may develop bacteria on them. When cooking, cook them thoroughly and eat them within 2-3 hours. In order to thaw meat or poultry, one could take it out of the freezer and put it in the refrigerator overnight on a kitchen counter. Allow at least one and a half times as long to cook as required for unfrozen or thawed products of the same weight and shape. Make sure that deep frozen foods are thawed before cooking. Be careful not for any drips that can contaminate any other foods and refrigerate leftovers promptly after reheating. When in doubt, heat the meat, poultry, or fish and then eat it. Do not eat anything with peculiar looking dots on the food, for it is bacteria or fungus. Also, when heating with a microwave, follow all directions and make sure the item is thoroughly cooked, since there may be parts not fully cooked cause by uneven distribution of microwave or uneven distribution of water and fat. Hot perishable foods need to be cooled quickly, so put them straight into the refrigerator and divide large portions of food into smaller ones with covers on top.

Freezing, a way of packaging food, doesnt kill the bacteria in food; it just stops their growth and should be handled with the same care as foods that are not frozen. Commercially canned foods are considered safe and if there is any sign of spoilage (bulging can ends, leakage, mold, etc.) do not use it. Be careful while canning things in a boiling-water canner since time and temperature directions have to be followed exactly. The treatment of food poisoning can be dealt with antibiotics in some cases and dehydration from diarrhea and vomiting should be treated immediately with oral rehydration solutions. If there are sever symptoms of food poisoning, medical personnel should always be called. On the other hand, mild symptoms can be treated by not eating anything until symptoms have halted. By taking certain precautions when preparing foods, will ensure that unpleasant illnesses of food poisoning does not occur.

In conclusion, poisoning can happen almost anywhere on earth and by becoming aware of the symptoms of some common poisons, one can learn how to deal with them and prevent them from happening. If someone was to ever get poisoned and it was an emergency, then call 1-800-222-1222. Also, one of these two poison control centers in New Jersey can help. One is in Newark, New Jersey called the New Jersey Poison Information and Education Systems located at 201 Lyons Avenue Newark, NJ 07112 (800) 962-1253 (NJ only), (201) 923-0764. The other place is in Philipsburg, New Jersey called the Warren Hospital Poison Control Center located at 185 Rosberg Street Phillipsburg, NJ 08865 (800) 962-1253, (908) 859-6768. By knowing what to do when someone is poisoned from anything, thousands of lives can be saved. Think about it


Poisoning Fact Sheet


The things that you should know about the different important ways to prevent and treat poisoning includes as follows:

1.       Report ALL accidents to the poison control center(s) near you and ALWAYS call 1-800-222-1222 in a case of an emergency.

2.       Use natural gas detectors in order to protect you from natural gas poisoning and from fires or explosions.

3.       Regularly check furnace ducts, chimneys, and vents and your complete heating system to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

4.       Never leave out food for more than 2-3 hours, for they will grow bacteria.

5.       Never contaminate raw meats with vegetables and other foods in order not to poison them.

6.       Always wash your hands after using the bathroom and before and after preparing food.

7.       Keep hot things hot and cold things cold.

8.       Eat a healthy diet rich in calcium and iron in order to prevent too much lead absorption.

9.       Children from every region, race, and socioeconomic level are at risk for lead poisoning and most lead poisoning happens at home. Paint, dust and soil are the most common sources of lead hazards. However, lead can also be found in many other areas such as water, toys, folk medication, furniture, work places, hobby supplies, lead crystal, lead glazed pottery or porcelain, or in the air.

10.  If someone were exposed to natural gas or carbon monoxide to a long period of time, get them to fresh air and get medical attention immediately.

Some interesting facts include:

        About 60% of reported poison exposures occur in children less than 6 years of age, but young children account for less than 4% of fatalities

        Iron poisoning and hydrocarbons are the most common cause of deaths

        Poisoning usually involves a single substance in small quantities; accidental and severe

        Poisonings occur by ingestion, inhalation, optical exposure, skin exposure, mucous membrane association, and parental exposures, ingestions account for about 3/4 of exposures, and inhalation accounts for 14%

        90% of pre-1940 buildings have lead. 

        80% of pre-1960 and, 

        62% of pre-1978 buildings have lead.



(The mainly used website)

(Used for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning)

(Natural Gas Poisoning)

(Used for Plant Poisoning and Introduction)

(Used for Food Poisoning)

(Used for Lead Poisoning)



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