Poison Statistics

The Poison Control Center closely monitors the calls received each year, tracking the volume, reasons for exposure, top substances involved in poisonings and poison-associated fatalities. This data helps us identify poisoning trends and risks to the public, knowledge that informs community education, awareness and treatment efforts.

The following data is based on calls to the Poison Control Center from 2018. View the full 2018 report.

Calls to the Poison Control Center

The Poison Control Center receives thousands of calls each year from residents in Eastern Pennsylvania, the greater Philadelphia area and Delaware.

In 2018, the specialists at the Poison Control Center provided expert information, poisoning management guidance, and reassurance during approximately 90,000 calls. This included 50,154 human exposure cases resulting from poisoning concerns.

Poison Control Center Call Volume by Call Type

Total: 89,734

 
Human Exposures (50,154 cases)
 
Patient Follow-up (32,655 cases)
 
Information (6,033 cases)
 
Animal Exposures (892 cases)

 

 

The number of calls, by call type, received by the Poison Control Center in 2018.

 

Poison exposure statistics

The Poison Control Center works to reduce the number of injuries and deaths associated with poison exposures. In order to achieve this goal and effectively educate the public on poisoning prevention and awareness, it is critical for our toxicology experts to identify new toxic threats and track poisoning epidemics.

We collect this data as part of a national, real-time surveillance system. Tracking this information helps us understand the common causes of poison exposures in both children and adults, and why these exposures happen, so that we can focus our efforts on prevention.

Home poisoning prevention education and advocacy remain important missions! Half of the poison exposure cases reported to the Poison Control Center involve young children and two-thirds involve children and teenagers. Intentional self-poisoning reports among adolescents and adults are more likely to lead to major toxicity or fatality, emphasizing the importance of mental health services for depression and substance abuse disorders.

Human Exposures by Age Group

Total exposures: 50,716

 
≤ 6 Years: 23,854
 
20 to 59 Years: 12,220
 
6 to 12 Years: 4,279
 
60+ Years: 3,885
 
13 to 19 Years: 3,641
 
Unknown Age: 2,837

 

 
 

 

Top substances involved in poisoning exposures

Each year, the Poison Control Center documents the substances involved in poisoning exposures and collects this data. Knowing what substances are causing the most poisonings in both children and adults helps us identify new threats, improve our public education, and tailor the poison-specific information we provide to healthcare professionals and public health agencies.

The following tables compare the most common substances involved in poison exposures in kids versus adults based on calls to the Poison Control Center in 2017.

Top 5 Substances in Kids ≤ 5 years of Age
Cosmetics/personal care products 3,293
Cleaning substances (household) 2,521
Analgesics 2,128
Foreign bodies 1,988
Topical preparations 1,138

 

Top 5 Substances in Adults ≥ 20 years of Age
Analgesics 2,392
Sedative/hypnotics/antipsychotics 2,088
Antidepressants 1,722
Cleaning substances (household) 1,679
Cardiovascular drugs 1,501

 

Among both children and adults, the majority (83.5 percent) of exposures are unintentional.

Human Poison Exposures by Reason

Total: 49,799

 
Unintentional (41,561)
 
Intentional (6,537)
 
Adverse Reaction (1,066)
 
Other (403)
 
Unknown (232)

 

 

Reasons for human poison exposures in 2018, calculated by number and type of calls that came in to the Poison Control Center.

Fatalities Summary

Thankfully, many of the poison exposures that we help manage at our Poison Control Center to do not result in serious medical outcomes. Of the 50,154 human exposure calls reported to the Poison Control Center in 2018, 62 ended in fatality.

Poison Control Center Fatalities 2013-2018

The number of fatal cases reported to the Poison Control Center between 2013-2018.

 
Fatalities

 

 
 
Causes of Poisoning Deaths: All Ages
Substance
No. of cases
Acetaminophen/Cough/Cold/ Allergy/OTC
31
CNS/Psychiatric Medications (Excluding Opioids and Benzodiazepines)
26
Benzodiazepines/Opioids
22
Cardiovascular Medications
12
Alcohol/Street Drugs
7
Other
11
Uknown Drugs
22

 

 

Causes of Pediatric Deaths
Toxicological Cause of Death
No. of cases
Antidepressants
2
Antipsychotics
2
Unknown Drugs
1
Marijuana: Dried Plant
1
Ethanol (Beverages)
1
Melatonin
1
Benzodiazepines
1

 

Previous statistics and trends

Download previous annual reports to find poison statistics and trends from past years based on data collected by the Poison Control Center.


Next Steps
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What to Expect When You Call

When you call the Poison Control Center, we will ask you a series of questions. Here's what we'll need to know so we can help.

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Poisoning Resources for Professionals

Find treatment tips for poisoning events, clinical pathways, information about toxicology assessments, and more.