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Poison prevention

Poison prevention

The Issue

Poisoning is a much larger public health issue than is generally recognized, with children being particularly at risk of unintentional poisoning. For Canadians of all ages, poisoning is the fifth leading cause of injury deaths, hospitalizations and emergency room visits. Researchers estimate that half of all poison exposures occur among children younger than six years of age. Child standing in front of a medicine cabinet


Children are at particular risk of poisoning due to their growing curiosity and inexperience – as children begin to climb and reach new things they don’t necessarily have the experience to know what to avoid. 

It is estimated that: 

Medication is the leading cause of all unintentional poisonings of children age 14 and under. The remaining poisonings are caused by a wide range of products such as household cleaners, alcohol, plants, fertilizers, pesticides, paint thinner, antifreeze and beauty products.  While adults may be deterred from consuming a substance by its bad taste, this is not the case with young children. Their sense of taste is different from an adult’s, resulting in the ability to drink substances like windshield washer fluid without the taste being a deterrent.  


Prevention of poisoning is best accomplished through a multifaceted approach combining education, enforcement and environmental modifications. 

Effective poison prevention emphasizes several pillars:

For further information on poison prevention in Canada, please see:

White Paper on the prevention of poisoning of children in Canada 

Webinar on Poison Prevention - June 23, 2015

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