By Furhana Afrid

New Mexico Poison Center marks National Poison Prevention Week

The New Mexico Poison and Drug Information Center is raising awareness on the dangers and prevention of poisoning as it marks the 54th Annual National Poison Prevention Week, March 20-26.

The Poison Center, a public service program of the UNM College of Pharmacy, reminds the public that while poisoning is the leading cause of injury death in the nation, many poisonings are preventable and expert help is just a phone call away.

Last year the Poison Center received more than 21,000 poison related calls with around 13,000 cases successfully treated on site, and the center saved around $50 million dollars in health care costs to New Mexicans.

New Mexico Poison and Drug Information Center: Call the Experts from UNM Health Sciences Center on Vimeo.

While most poisoning deaths are due to the misuse and abuse of licit and illicit drugs, poison exposures can involve various substances and occur in different ways.

In 2014, around 80 percent of exposures reported to poison centers involved people swallowing a substance. However, they were also exposed through the lungs, skin, eyes and other routes.

Additionally, 57 percent of human exposures reported to poison centers involved medications or pharmaceuticals. Other exposures resulted from consumer and household products, plants, mushrooms, pesticides, animal bites and stings, carbon monoxide, chemicals and other types of non-pharmaceutical substances.

"It's important to remember that poisonings can really happen to anyone, anywhere, and at any time," says Krista Osterthaler, chair of the National Poison Prevention Week Council and director of national outreach at American Association of Poison Control Centers. "While the majority of human exposures called in to poison centers occur at a residence, they can also occur in the workplace, schools, healthcare facilities and elsewhere. The good news is that many poisonings are preventable, and if you need help, it's readily available."

The NPPW Council observes the national week, "Children Act Fast; So Do Poisons and Poisonings Span a Lifetime," with daily themes as follows:

  • Monday, March 21 - "Children Act Fast ... So Do Poisons"
  • Tuesday, March 22 - "Poison Centers: Call the Experts"
  • Wednesday, March 23 - "Poisonings Span a Lifetime"
  • Thursday, March 24 - "Home, Safe Home"
  • Friday, March 25 - "Medication Safety"

The poison center invites the public to participate using the following resources:

Visit the New Mexico Poison Center website at

Interact through social media at

Get help by calling the Poison Help line: 1-800-222-1222

Obtain more information on National Poison Prevention Week at

Follow social media content using the hashtags #NPPW16 and #preventpoison .

Categories: College of Pharmacy, Community Engagement