The Poison Control Center

Poison Facts and Fiction

There are many myths associated with poisonings. Some of these myths go back to the time when poisonings were not well understood and antidotes were not available. Today, toxicology is a well-studied science and the Poison Control Center would like to replace some of the old tales with established scientific facts.

Fiction: Milk is the universal antidote.
Fact: Milk has no special properties that make it the magic antidote. Water is just as effective as milk for diluting poisons.

Fiction: Milk should be used to rinse out the eyes after an eye exposure.
Fact: Water is the preferred initial treatment for all eye and skin exposures.

Fiction: In a case of an accidental ingestion milk should be given to the patient to induce vomiting.
Fact: Milk does not cause vomiting (unless the patient suffers from lactose intolerance).

Fiction: Lead pencils can cause lead poisoning.
Fact: Lead pencils are made of graphite, not lead. Lead has been found in small amounts in the varnish on the pencil, but not in sufficient quantities to cause toxicity.

Fiction: Poinsettia is a highly toxic plant.
Fact: Poinsettia is a non-toxic. But ingestion of significant quantities cause irritation of the gastrointestinal tract.

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