Toxic Watchdog Gives Poison Prevention Tips to Protect Children’s Health

To mark the National Poison Prevention Week (NPPW), a toxic watchdog today appealed to the public to take essential precautionary measures to avoid poisoning accidents that can endanger children’s health.

The NPPW is held annually every fourth week of June to raise public awareness on poison prevention as directed by Presidential Proclamation No. 1777, Series of 2009.

In a bid to inform citizens about chemical hazards and the practical ways to prevent poisoning, especially among children, members of the EcoWaste Coalition’s AlerToxic Patrol gathered in the vicinity of Mega Q-Mart (formerly known as the Nepa Q-Mart) along EDSA in Quezon City to disseminate vital information.

Holding big mock images of product containers that bear the toxic symbol of skull and cross bones, the AlerToxic Patrollers gave out leaflets entitled “Kalatas,” which is short for “Kamalayan sa Lason at Lunas” (Awareness on Poison and Cure), to shoppers.

“Kalatas” (Note) contains practical tips that parents, teachers and workplace managers will find useful to reduce, if not eliminate, chemical poisoning as a result of improper purchase, handling, use and storage of products containing harmful substances.

“The myriad of poisoning cases involving children due to the consumption or exposure to harmful products and substances should stir parents, as well as school administrators and teachers, into employing precautionary steps to stop such incidents,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Citing data from the 2010 annual report of the UP National Poison Management and Control Center (UPNPMCC), the EcoWaste Coalition reported that the top 10 poison agents in terms of in-patient referrals for pediatric age group are kerosene, caustics (for example, chlorine bleach), silver jewelry cleaners, pesticides (for example, insecticide lotion and spray and rat poison), ferrous sulfate, elemental mercury (for example, the silvery liquid in some thermometers), paint thinner, paracetamol, button cell batteries and benzodiazepines (psychoactive drugs).

“Many of the poisoning cases that have occurred in the past could have been prevented if only these common sense tips have been applied,” Dizon pointed out.

These poison prevention tips include:

1. Be a health and safety-conscious consumer: read the labels, demand chemical information and select non-toxic products.

2. Keep a record of hazardous and potentially hazardous products, as well as wastes, in your home, school or workplace such as cosmetics and toiletries, cleaning agents, automotive supplies, herbicides, pesticides and other products with added toxic chemicals.

3. Label chemicals and store them properly in a dry, locked or tamper-proof cabinet.

4. Ensure that chemicals are out of children’s and pets’ reach and far away from food and water. Do not store cleaning supplies with or near food items.

5. Follow the instructions for the safe handling, application and storage of products containing harmful substances, including directions for safe disposal.

6. Never mix chemicals unless specified in the instructions to avoid risky chemical reaction (for example, combining ammonia with bleach will yield poisonous gas).

7. Ensure chemicals are tightly capped and securely stored after use to avoid emission and spillage, and never leave them unattended.

8. Do not remove poisonous products from their original containers or packages and do not destroy product labels or inserts, which could contain life-saving information.

9. Never store chemicals in beverage or food containers as children tend to associate potable drink and edible food with some containers.

10. Do not place ant, roach and rat poisons on the floors that children can mistakenly ingest. Try non-chemical alternatives to get rid of household pests.

11. Keep medicines duly labeled and stored in child-proof containers and cabinets, and check the labels and expiry dates before taking them. Refrain from taking medicines in front of kids as they tend to mimic what adults do. Kids should not be told that medicine is a candy.

12. Dispose of used button cell batteries properly and keep the unused ones far from children’s reach.

13. Have a first-aid kit ready and accessible in case of an emergency.

14. Regularly wash or clean children’s hands, toys and other items and places frequently used by kids to minimize potential exposure to lead and other harmful chemicals.

15. Know where to call or get help in the event of suspected or actual poisoning. Call or visit a doctor at once and be sure to keep the original container of the ingested substance for reference. You may also contact the UPNPMCC at the following numbers:

02-5548400 loc 2311