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Poison Prevention Awareness Month

March 1 - March 31

A lab table with different types of jars with liquids in them

Poison Prevention Awareness Month takes place every March and it might be more important than you realize. Poisoning from the Mayo Clinic is defined as an injury or death due to swallowing, inhaling, touching, or injecting various drugs, chemicals, venoms, or gases. It sounds like a distant concept, but the fact of the matter is that most poisonings occur in the home. Smoke inhalation is the most common cause of acute poisoning. The inhalation of carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, and other toxic substances makes it a silent killer.


In the early 20th century, very little was known about poisons. There weren’t any poison control centers, comprehensive drug labeling, or oversight of pharmaceutical manufacturing. As a result, the understanding of deaths and health problems associated with toxicology wasn’t well understood. But as medical science improved, so did the knowledge about poison.

A pediatrician at Duke University named Jay Arena, M.D. collected information about toxic hazards in the early 1930s and The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) was founded at this time. The pediatric practice had begun to recognize childhood poisonings and patient morbidity, and a deeper understanding was needed. Arena gave advice to physicians on poisoning cases and he provided the first reports on the hazards of household products to children.

The first formal poison control center was developed in 1953 by Edward Press, M.D., and Louis Gdalman. It was located in Chicago and it gave people the opportunity to call in for medical advice and collected standard data. They quickly grew after the first one and by 1978 there were 661 centers.

The United States Congress passed a joint resolution on September 26, 1961. The resolution requested that the President proclaim the third week of March National Poison Prevention Week, and JFK proclaimed it so. Since then, it’s gone on to include the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), providing valuable information to pet owners about poisonous substances, and it has taken over the entire month of March.


March 1
March 31
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