This week, March 20-26, is National Poison Prevention Week. Ironically, this year’s poison-free celebration is blemished by the fact that Congress is considering a massive budget cut to local poison control centers across the United States. On Saturday, Feb. 19 The House of Representatives voted to cut $27.3 million, or about 93%, of federal funding for poison control centers across the U.S. via Measure H.R. 1. The bill was rejected by the Senate on March 9, however, in the spirit of the proposed bill, congressional leaders are negotiating a ‘compromise’ and may still cut poison control centers funding.
Budget cuts to poison control is a dangerous decision that may effectively lead to the closure of many U.S. poison centers. This decision may also cause health care costs to rise, because if parents can’t call poison control, they head to the emergency room. The ER vs. a simple phone call is a time-suck and an expensive time-suck at that. The fact that poison control centers funding may be seriously cut is almost laugh worthy, considering the United States falls insanely behind other countries when it comes to banning harmful toxic pesticides and chemicals. The government doesn’t want to protect our families. Then when our kids run into these harmful products; think toxic cleaners under the sink or cancer-causing pesticides sprayed on strawberries, who can you call? Not poison control apparently. Maybe the government will start taking these calls – right…?
Poison control centers are more important than many know. Poisoning deaths are the second leading cause of injury death in the United States, after motor vehicle crashes. There are 57 local poison control centers across the United States. Annually, those centers receive more than 4 million calls from concerned individuals. Right now, anyone can call poison control to obtain free medical assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Since 90% of Americans end up getting the help they need, over the phone, from their local poison center, they don’t go to an emergency room, saving time and money. CNN reports that cut funding will also affect the most basic of services, such as 911. CNN points out that when a citizen calls 911 and an operator decides the emergency is poisoning related, they’ll conference call with a poison control center in order to obtain the best information possible.
Without panicking, you should be aware that poisons are everywhere: from bleach and other household cleaners, to medications, to nature-minded problems like berries, mushrooms and insect bites. Poison dangers should not keep your family from living life. Still, it’s nice to know that if your family needs to call poison control for peace of mind, you can. If you want to keep this useful service around, make sure you stand up for poison control center funding. See the resources below to learn more.
+ FREE Poison Help hotline 1-800-222-1222